It was only a matter of time

Ok, enough with the “I’m on the plane” gags already. It’s only a matter of time before mobile phone usage is allowed on planes. And you probably fall into one of two camps in this discussion. Either you hate the idea, that you might end up sitting next to someone yakking away, whilst at the same time worrying about the effect on the plane’s navigation systems. Or you think it’s great that you can make extortionately priced calls from your own phone whilst roaming at 30,000 feet, thereby avoiding paying the extortionate charges for using the on board phone system. Either way, I can’t see it taking off big time because of cost. But people will probably pay for the convenience.


  1. Avatar Roger Still 22/10/2007 @ 4:36 pm

    It is unlikely that, as the article suggests “Calls will be billed … presumably at the normal local or roaming rates”. You would not connect to terrestrial networks, as travelling at 30,000 feet and travelling at 500 mph would send the cellular handover systems haywire. Instead, you would probably link to a satellite, handing over to a centrally located base station somewhere in europe and roam from there. Furthermore, airline operators are likely to want a slice of the action, further adding to the costs passed on to the customer. Whether it “takes off” will depend on what the charges are and how important business users feel it is to be contactable for the two hours or so they are up in the air. If it succeeds in Europe it is more likely to be adopted on a worldwide basis in time – the value of this kind of service on long-haul flights is much higher.

  2. Avatar Dimitris 25/10/2007 @ 7:15 am

    There are significant health risks for passengers travelling in an airplane and having a base station with one or more repeaters in addition to several tenths or even hundrends of mobile handsets switched on to provide good coverage and bandwidth capacity to mobile voice and data users into the plane. The risk is not only associated with mobile users themselves, but rather to all passengers, given also the very “enclosed” nature of the airplane cabin, with continuous radiation reflections inside the cabin.

    The issue of providing such licenses to both Mobile Operators and Airlines alike, should be given very careful consideration by regulatory authorities, since the potentially hazardous effects may be serious, especially for children travelling on an airplane!

  3. Avatar M haque 25/10/2007 @ 9:47 am

    It is too early to comment on the technology, however i believe it will have an uptake and definitely a niche market in a more connected world. The airlines will share the upside as well as the costs of introducing this service and may end up with a USP for business travellers.

  4. Avatar ONE_LITTLE_QUESTION 26/10/2007 @ 11:48 pm

    informa MUST be wrong! I am sorry to say.

    The “9-11 Commission Report” [www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf] claims, it was possible to use cell-phones in a flying US-aeroplane in the year 2001!

    Google has just told me so, see link below:

    […] On Flight 93,however, the takeover took place 46 minutes after
    takeoff and there were only four hijackers. […]
    Shortly thereafter, the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from
    GTE airphones and cellular phones. These calls between family, friends, and
    colleagues took place until the end of the flight and provided those on the
    ground with firsthand accounts. […]

    Can anyone solve this riddle? I would be very interested in a logical answer. Was it possible or not in the year 2001 to use a cellphone in an aeroplane? Thank you.
    I MUST admit, either the researchers of “informa” or the “9-11 Commission Report” haven’t done their job right … or was/is it me?

  5. Avatar James Middleton 28/10/2007 @ 6:59 pm

    It has always been technically possible to make a mobile phone call whilst on board a plane, just as long as you are in range of a signal. The reason you haven’t been allowed to make such a call is because of concerns over interference with the plane’s navigation equipment and such during takeoff and landing. During 9-11, i understand that callers were able to get a signal and so make a call. The recent moves to allow calls to be made whilst in the air follow research into mobile phone usage on planes. Calls will still be disallow during take off and landing when the on board electronics are busy landing the plane etc.

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