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In-flight cellphone use allowed on EU airspace

Posted: 11 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EU in-flight cellphone service? Internet? mobile phone?

The European Commission announced it has opened the way for air passengers to use cellphones to talk or text during flights throughout the European Union airspace, according to Agence France Presse.

EC spokesman Martin Selmayr, however, stressed that the in-flight service was not yet generally available and passengers should still heed the advice of flight attendants to switch off phones during flights. Selmayr added that that the 27 EU member states have six months to comply with the new rules.

Using mobile phones during flights is currently limited to a very few travelers for fear of interfering with the aircraft's functioning. Some airlines, including Air France, have begun testing the in-flight mobile system.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Vivaine Reding commented that while in-flight mobile phone services will be an interesting feature, service fee should be considered and courtesy to other passengers should be observed.

Selmayr disclosed that on-board calls would be "a little more expensive" than those on the ground because the planes need to install their own in-flight cellphone network. According to Selmayr, the competitive market place should take care of the price of calls and the commission will not interfere with it but will keep a close eye on it.

For safety concerns, Selmayr said cellphone use will only be allowed when the plans are at least 3,000ft in the air and that flight captains have the authority to switch off the on-board service if they deem necessary.

Consumer response
Despite the EC's optimism on the in-flight mobile phone service, German airline companies Lufthansa and Air Berlin expressed reservations, citing passenger responses on the question.

The AFP reported that both airlines said some clients they had questioned did not want to be disturbed by neighbors' in-flight phone calls. Neither carrier plans to run tests on the service.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman the airline would rather develop Internet use onboard.

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