The Australian Communications and Media Authority has proposed to permit the installation of in-flight mobile phone
systems, which are necessary for Qantas and Virgin Blue plans to
offer SMS and GPRS services on an aircraft.
The systems go against the 1999 Mobile Jammer Prohibition,
which bans use in Australia of equipment which causes interference
to mobile services.
ACMA said that it has become apparent that some devices which
block the use of certain frequencies to prevent potential
interference to other services, such as the pico cell technology
used to stop mobile phones having adverse affects on aircraft
systems, have benefits.
Last year the Authority authorised Qantas to carry out a trial
of in-flight mobile services on one of its aircraft by amending the
Notice to allow the use of pico cell technology for the trialling
of in-flight GSM services. Qantas
announced the trial a success, saying it intended on bringing services
to a select number of domestic routes serviced by Qantas' fleet of
Boeing 767s and Airbus 330s by the end of the year.
From ACMA's perspective, the trial also had a positive outcome, as there
were no interference complaints during the trial.
Now the authority has said it wants to pave the way for Qantas
and Virgin Blue subsidiary V-Australia to offer SMS and GPRS services on their aircraft by
amending the Notice to allow the use of pico cell systems for
in-flight mobile systems in general.
"Australia led the world when it trialled in-flight GSM mobile
phone services in 2007," ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said in a
statement. "There is growing recognition by regulators worldwide
that in-flight mobile phone services can be deployed without
interference to existing telecommunications services."
Submissions on the changes have to be lodged by the 17
November. A spokesperson for the Authority said that whether
the amendments went into place in time for Qantas' hoped service start at the end of the year would
depend on the nature and number of submissions.