Listening to the signal to activate or deactivate airplane mode on a cell phone during flight may be a practice of the past, at least in the European Union (EU).
After several years of study, the group of 27 countries is about to designate specific frequencies of the new 5G telephony technology, allowing mobile devices to connect over the air.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to the possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, said in a statement.
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The 27 member states have set June 30, 2023 as the deadline to provide 5G technology on aircraft for travel within their region.
How will it work?
As reported by the Spanish media Pawn, The intention would be possible through so-called picocells, a specialized team that would triangulate aircraft and land mobile networks through a network of satellites. This would allow passengers and crew members of an aircraft, on the ground, to use their devices to receive and make calls, send text messages or connect to data networks.
A delicate aspect is ensuring that this network does not interfere with any of the aircraft’s electronics. In the United States, for example, some airlines have warned that the safety of thousands of flights could be at risk if carriers turn on 5G near airports.
In Europe, four of that continent’s biggest operators—Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange and Massmovil—are participating to ensure the new technology is safe for aviation.
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However, there will be some limits. The equipment will work only at low altitudes and as long as the weather conditions are favourable.
In addition, the aircraft captain may order mobile devices to be switched off at any time if he deems fit.
Will it be free?
So far, everything indicates that both mobile phone companies and airlines will charge a special rate, as land networks of more than one country may be used during the connection, for which costs will arise. roaming,
This concept, called roaming in Spanish but better known by its term in English, refers to the possibility of using a device in a network other than the original network, which is particularly useful when traveling abroad. Is.
It also added that airlines would have to invest in installing equipment that allows them to connect terrestrial mobile networks via satellite to aircraft in flight.
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Why was Airplane Mode born?
Airplane mode was born to facilitate communication between the flight crew and the controllers. Airlines ask passengers to turn off cell phones or activate airplane mode for safety reasons before takeoff and during the duration of the flight, to avoid interference with any other electrical or telecommunication systems on board the aircraft.
Connection is only possible via an internal Wi-Fi network on the aircraft, which is usually a paid service.
But, over time, industry and experts have discovered that the risk is lower than originally thought.
“What experience has found is that the risk of interference is very small.” Dai Whittingham, chief executive of Britain’s Committee for Flight Safety, told the BBC: “It has always been advised that once you’re in flight, the device should be turned off in the air.” Must be in ship mode.”