European Commission joins Ofcom in giving mobile phones on aircrafts the OK

Just a couple of weeks ago, watchdog Ofcom gave mobile phones on aeroplanes in European airspace the ok.

We figured that while this wasn’t exactly good news (we’re not exactly keen on the idea of having to listen to long winded phone conversations on the plane), the chances that the idea would make any significant progress in the near future were slim. Considering we first heard about it mid-October 2007 and then heard nothing for five months we thought that they might be taking their time with this one.

Apparently not.

Just two weeks after Ofcom gave the thumbs up the European Commission has given the green light meaning planes registered in one country would be able to offer the service to passengers when flying over other EU countries without having to apply for additional national licences.

Both the European commission and Ofcom have approved the use of mobile phones on planes flying in European airspace once you reach altitudes of 3000 ft or more.

The plan is to install small mobile phone base stations, called pico cells, in planes that would be switched on after take-off, the BBC reports.

The base station generates a field of coverage in and around the aircraft. Calls made via the pico cell will be routed to terrestrial networks via satellite link.

While the idea still depends on each individual airline and the equipment will still need approval from the European Aviation Safety Authority, it looks like we could be one step closer to chatting to our mates on the plane home from Spain.

Read the full story on the BBCOnline.

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