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Ofcom clears in-flight mobile services for take off

The telecoms regulator has approved tech enabling in-flight mobile-phone services on UK airlines, bringing calls from on high a step closer
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Written by Tim Ferguson on

In-flight mobile phone calls may soon be a reality for travellers on UK airlines after telecoms regulator Ofcom gave its approval to the technology.

Calls will use the aircraft's network services and be routed via satellite to ground-based mobile networks.

The approved system will be useable once planes are more than three kilometres above ground level, so they don't interfere with ground-based mobile networks.

The service will initially work with 2G mobile spectrum but could be extended to 3G and other services if the initial scheme proves successful.

The news follows a consultation on Ofcom proposals published in October last year, and the regulator has worked with other EU countries to come to the decision.

In a statement, Ofcom said the safety of passengers is paramount, as a result of which no system will be fitted before the Civil Aviation Authority and European Aviation Safety Agency have also approved the technology.

Ofcom will amend the aircraft operator licences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 to allow these services.

Emirates recently launched the world's first commercial in-flight mobile service, while BMI announced plans to trial mobile technology back in 2006.

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