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The "airplane mode" is over: finally you can talk on your mobile on flights


The European Union will reserve frequencies for the new 5G telephony so that travelers can use their cell phones on board without restrictions

The first message air passengers receive when the plane is about to take off is to turn off their mobile phones or put them in “airplane mode”.

But that instruction is about to disappear.

The European Commission is going to designate specific frequencies of the new 5G telephony that will allow the connectivity of mobile phones in flight.

In practice, that decision will authorize airlines to allow customers to make and receive phone calls, text messages and data just as they would on the ground, the European Commission has noted.

The service will be provided using special network equipment called a picocell that connects the in-flight network to the ground via a satellite.

“The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to the possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said in a statement.

Airlines will be able to provide the latest 5G network technology on their planes, according to a latest update from the European Commission on in-flight communications, which advances the designation of certain 5G frequencies for user communications.

Currently, the regulations require passengers to turn off mobile phones or activate "airplane mode" before takeoff and throughout the duration of the flight, as a security measure to avoid interference with any other electrical or telecommunications systems on the plane.

The connection with wireless devices such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops is only possible through an internal Wi-Fi network provided by the airline, generally as a paid service.

However, the European Commission is going to enable a specific frequency band for the use of 5G, making sure that it does not interfere with any of the electronic devices on the plane, so that the traveler can keep their mobile phones on at all times.

However, these will only work at low altitudes and as long as the weather conditions are favourable.

In addition, the aircraft commander may order mobile phones to be turned off at any time if he deems it appropriate.

"5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies," Breton said.

It will be safe but not free

But the fact that you will be able to use your mobile phone on the plane does not mean that it will be free.

Everything indicates that mobile companies and, where appropriate, also airlines, will demand a special rate, since during the connection land networks of more than one country can be used, for which a roaming cost will be generated.

In addition, the airlines will have to make a considerable investment to install the equipment that allows them to connect the terrestrial mobile networks with the plane in flight through the satellite.

The Commission has also introduced innovations for road transport, where Wi-Fi with 5GHz frequency bands will be able to run in cars, buses and other means of transport.

A measure that will take effect on June 30, 2023 "at the latest", according to the institution.

The measure already caused a strong controversy when the first plans for its implementation were glimpsed.

In 2020, the US Federal Communications Commission scuttled plans to allow in-flight voice and data services over mobile wireless frequencies, citing strong opposition, including from airline pilots and flight attendants. , for reasons of security and national security.

In fact, at the beginning of this year the main airlines in the United States raised the alarm by sending a joint letter to the main aviation regulatory bodies and even to the White House itself warning that if the operators turned on the 5G network near airports, the safety of thousands of flights was in jeopardy.

The reason for this alarm is that the frequencies on which the new generation of mobile telephony works can interfere with the one used by planes to measure their altitude, which can lead to catastrophic accidents.

Emirates, Air India, Lufthansa, British Airways or Japan Airlines, among others, announced cancellations or changes of flights to the US for this reason.

However, in Europe the situation is completely different because the frequency margins are higher and there is no danger of interference.

This was made known by the different administrations responsible for air safety in contact with the European authorities that have been working for more than two years to prevent it.

Indeed, the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA), the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures (SETID), in coordination with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have studied the issue in various meetings of their working groups. and they have made several reports to guarantee that when 5G becomes general in Spain, it is fully guaranteed that it will not interfere with the security systems of aircraft, official sources informed EL PAÍS.

The four big operators —Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange and MásMóvil— are also participating in various meetings to ensure that the new technology, set to revolutionize telecommunications and the connected industry, is safe for aviation.

Source: elparis

All business articles on 2022-11-28

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