European Commission approves mobile phone usage mid-flight

The European Commission (EC) has adopted new rules that will allow mobile devices to be used on board in the European Union.

The body approved use of 3G and 4G services for calls, text messages and internet usage above 3,000 metres. After the initial take-off period, devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets will be allowed to be used freely. The decision comes after US airlines recently allowed use of devices on-board as they found no threats could be made to in-flight systems.

The Guardian reports adjustments must be made before passengers can make flights mid flight. Companies must install specific hardware on board to create a wireless access point, which is linked to the ground via satellite connections. This ensures communication between ground networks and the cockpit won’t be interrupted. Here, passengers will be charged with international roaming fees which are set out by individual phone networks.

A CAA spokesperson says the rules are not compulsory and it could take a while before it is rolled out across airline carriers.

“This ruling gives equipment manufacturers approval to use 3G and 4G spectrum for rebroadcast of mobile networks aboard aircraft, however, equipment manufacturers will still have to obtain certification from Easa before use,” they said.

“Passengers will not be able to use their 3G or 4G mobile phones on aeroplanes any time soon - we’re talking months not weeks here.”

Source: The Guardian, Europa | Image via Keron Calame

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19 Comments

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DrOmango said,
you cant get network anyways from the air unless there is something I dont know about?

You might, although I would be surprised you would get a decent connection, your cell phone would have to switch too fast between cells.

However, even if it would work, it's not allowed atm

DrOmango said,
you cant get network anyways from the air unless there is something I dont know about?

Correct, normally you lose the network connectivity at around 1000-1500ft above ground. This is because the cellphone antennas don't send any signal upwards but only to the ground.

This new rule is only for aircraft equipped with a satellite connection, relaying the ground signal to your cellphone with the help of their own satellite connection.

Even if cellphone could receive the real ground signal, this would never be allowed as the cellphones need to use their maximum transmitting and receiving power to ensure a proper reception and by this, interfering with this aircraft systems. This is can very dangerous.

Aircrafts equipped with a satellite connection have the antenna obviously very close to the passenger's cellphones and thus, the cellphones work with low power signals not endangering the aircraft's safety.

i am sure i remember the eu cancelling roaming fess with in the eu, sort of make sense if you think about it. making places for people to make calls and receive calls would be appropriate it would think.

this is potentially going to be extremely annoying.... I HATE when people are yelling and swearing on their phones while sitting on the bus. Imagine a 7 hour plane ride with those same people.....

I hope this doesn't catch on. there is no need. Just don't talk to the ground for the duration of your flight.

I came here to express exactly the same feeling as most.
There is no need for everybody to be using there phones while flying, it's just annoying for everybody around you.
The use of laptops and tablets i'm ok with

Regrettably, noise pollution now invades the plane's cabin. Its already bad enough on buses, restaurants, and other public places--where, with varying degrees of difficulty one can move away from the inconsiderate ingrate. On a plane??

Spicoli said,
That's all we need is people yapping on their phone for an entire flight.

Ditto. May I also add that because of the pressure changes hearing is frequently impaired not only will they be yapping, they will be literally yelling. Perfect.

Cabin pressure is usually much lower than you're accustomed too unless you live in the mountains. I think it's more the engine and wind noise that will make people yell though.

If not pressure then I have no idea what causes impaired hearing in my case, but it's definitely not any kind of noise. I feel like someone stuck cotton in my ears and I'm not the only one.

I don't like hearing 30 or 40 kids winging the entire flight either but we can't all be winners. Seeing as sleeping on flights is constantly interrupted either by kids crying, people climbing over you for a dump or other things low cost internet at least lets you carry on with the outside world.

roaming rates will cost a fortune I am sure.. Unless some airline offer theirs own Broadband service via Wifi at-least so that some VoIP can be used or Internet can be used a cheaper cost.