Mobile phone calls will be allowed on planes flying in European airspace under new European Commission rules.
The decision means that mobiles could be used once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000m or more.
It follows six months of consultation by the European regulator and the first services could launch next month.
What do I think about this? It’s terrible!
Air travel is unpleasant enough as it is, without hearing someone in the seat next to you (or behind you, or in front of you) shouting into a cell phone as soon as the plane reaches cruising altitude.
Just a year ago, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission rejected cell phone usage on aircraft in the United States, as I discussed in “The FCC grounds cell phones.”
It’s a shame that the European Commission went the other way. According to the BBC story, “Europe clears mobiles on aircraft,”
The plan is to install small mobile phone base stations, called pico cells, in aircraft that will be switched on after take-off. The base station generates a bubble of coverage in and around the aircraft. Calls made via the pico cell will be routed to terrestrial networks via satellite link. Across Europe radio spectrum has been set aside for the technology.
The story adds that captains can turn the service off. Call me a Luddite, but I hope they do — permanently. I hope airlines refuse to implement it.
I hope it all just goes away.