A new ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will open the door for carriers and airlines to introduce in-flight data usage on Australian domestic flights. This will effectively allow passengers to communicate via SMS, Facebook, Twitter and other connected services. As with services offered overseas, access will be provided through an on-board system, and communications between handsets and ground-based networks will still be prohibited.
The ruling raises a big question though – who will manage the in-flight network? So far Australia’s telecommunications are in agreement that passengers should not be forced to use any one carrier; however technical limitations may make a multi-carrier offering impossible. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also weighed in on the discussion, stating that a single-carrier option is acceptable if other options compromise safety. Whatever the outcome, the one thing that’s certain is that in-flight mobile service won’t come cheap – up to ten times what they pay for ground-based services.
The Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) was consulted on prior to the ruling and raised no objections.