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Planes will no longer be a haven from irritating ringtones with the arrival of cheaper ways to allow mobile phones to be used on aircraft.

Arinc and Telenor are demonstrating technology this week which will allow people to use their phones while planes are flying. The company claims technical problems have been solved but regulations still need to catch up.

The companies are giving live demonstrations at an airline trade show in Washington DC. The system uses a small picocell in the plane's cabin. A picocell is the smallest kind of radio cell or antenna. The system is cheaper than other products because it uses the satellite system the plane already carries rather than providing its own. It links up to the Inmarsat satellite equipment which is already carried by most long distance carriers.

By enormous coincidence late last week Arinc and Telenor put out a survey showing that almost nearly half of the 1,200 people questioned would prefer to travel on airlines which allow mobile phone use.

Separately, Airbus and French firm Icarelink have tested systems which allow flying passengers to use their mobile phones. The Airbus system also uses picocells to route calls down to the Globalstar satellite communications network and then onto the phone network. Phones were used to call and send texts without interferring with navigation systems. The manufacturer hopes the system will be in regular use by 2006. Call charges should be broadly in line with international roaming charges and users will be able to pay via their mobile phone bill.

Qualcomm and American Airlines tested a similar system for CDMA phones in July.

More on Arinc's website here ®

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