Chinese airlines to offer in-flight mobile use?

Three Chinese carriers reportedly in talks with authorities and telcos to allow use of mobile devices during flights, but airlines have denied moves.

Three major airlines in China are said to have signed agreements with China Mobile and China Unicom to offer in-flight mobile use, but the carriers have reportedly denied making such plans.

Media reports last week pointed to deals between the two local mobile operators and China Southern Airlines, Air China and China Eastern Airlines. The plans have been submitted to the Chinese government for approval, the airlines were reported to have said at a forum held by China Air Transport Association (CATA) last week.

The carriers were said to have plans to charge 15 yuan (US$2.21) per minute for usage.

Last month, China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou revealed that the company had been in talks with Chinese airlines to provide in-flight mobile services, the Shanghai Daily reported.

However, the airlines have reportedly denied the moves. Citing a report by the Beijing Business Today, the People's Daily Online said a China Southern Airlines official clarified that the carrier neither signed any agreements with operators nor made any applications to government regulators to provide in-flight mobile services. Air China and China Eastern Airlines also denied making similar plans.

An expert quoted in the article noted that to provide in-flight mobile services, airliners will need to ensure support not only from mobile operators but also satellite telecommunication operators. In addition, planes will need to be retrofitted.

Egypt bans bandit Chinese phones
A separate report Monday revealed that Egypt has initiated a clampdown on "shanzai" or bandit phones from China.

According to, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Egypt approved a ban to block anonymous users and China-made mobile phones carrying the same Imei (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers as global-branded devices.

The authority said the measure came about as these shanzai mobile phones have affected the development of the Egyptian mobile phone market and are difficult to track. Shanzai devices first entered the Middle Eastern country six years ago and the number of devices has since climbed to over 2 million.

Egypt's move follows that of India which in December 2009, following security concerns, blocked connections of phones without genuine Imei numbers.

An industry player told that the ban on shanzai mobiles was good news for Chinese mobile manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE and K-Touch, which produce legitimate phones with real Imei numbers.