In-Flight Mobile Use One Step Closer

July 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

While businessmen and women no doubt eagerly look forward to being able to use their mobile phones in-flight, it seems that there are a still a few obstacles that need to be tackled before the move becomes final. One of those obstacles was recently overcome after a ruling by communications regulator Ofcom.

Ofcom recently announced that radio equipment for MCAs (mobile communications on aircraft) would soon be licensed under the 2006 Wireless Telegraphy Act. It further stated that UK aircraft operators could have licenses issued to them on request but added that EU regulators, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority would still have to approve the proposed systems before they could be used. And it seems that the concept is still raising concerns about potential discomfort for fellow passengers who will not only have to endure fellow passengers annoying them by engaging in lengthy conversations, but will also likely be exposed to anti-social behavior while air-hostesses may have to deal with ‘air rage’ from passengers using their phones. Then there are the security concerns, with mobiles providing the perfect mode of secretive communication between people on the plane and with others on the ground. According to Ofcom, the security concerns will need to be addressed by the Department for Transport’s transport security branch while the other concerns will be addressed by the airlines themselves at an operational level. Essentially it will be the task of the various regulatory bodies to see to the welfare, safety and security issues that will no doubt be raised by this practice.

Other concerns that were raised related to the cost of making phone calls from airplanes. Ofcom noted that “tarrifs may well be high relative to other mobile communication services and there is a danger that consumers will receive unexpectedly high bills.” It seems that the regulatory body plans to monitor the situation and to communicate with all concerned parties to try and prevent this from happening by keeping customers informed of the costs of in-flight mobile use. All this is fairly exciting news for those who can’t wait to dial-out at 3000 feet above ground level. Unfortunately for them, they will not be permitted to use their mobiles below this height. Ofcom’s recent announcements will only affect planes that are registered in EU countries or which are flying in EU airspace.

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