Sunday, April 6, 2008

EC Clears Way for In-flight Mobile Calls over Europe

The European Commission cleared the way for mobile communication services on aircraft over Europe. This allows people to receive and make calls and messages with their own mobile phones on-board aircraft during flights. Passengers' phones will be linked to an onboard cellular network connected to the ground via satellite. The system will at the same time prevent phones from connecting directly to mobile networks on the ground below. This will ensure that transmission powers are kept low enough for mobile phones to be used without affecting the safety of aircraft equipment or the normal operation of terrestrial mobile networks.

"Pan-European telecom services, such as in-flight mobile telephony, need a regulatory 'one-stop shop' to operate throughout Europe and this is why the Commission has acted today. One regulatory decision for all European airspace was required for this new service to come into being," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "Now we expect operators to be transparent and innovative in their price offerings. In-flight mobile phone services can be a very interesting new service especially for those business travelers who need to be ready to communicate wherever they are, wherever they go. However, if consumers receive shock phone bills, the service will not take-off. I also call on airlines and operators to create the right conditions on board aircraft to ensure that those who want to use in-flight communication services do not disturb other passengers."

Now that the technical requirements for the safe deployment of in-flight mobile communication services are complete, national licenses will be granted to individual airlines by the Member State in which they are registered, The licenses will be recognized throughout the EU. For example, an aircraft registered in France or Spain will be able to offer mobile communication services on aircrafts to passengers when flying over Germany or Hungary without any additional licensing procedures.