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Airbus to enable in-flight mobile phoning in 2006

Siemens supplying the kit

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Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has followed arch-rival Boeing to announce it will enable on-board mobile phone calls next year.

Airbus said it would offer to incorporate Siemens-made base-stations on behalf of new customers of its 100-200 seater, mid-range A320 family.

The Siemens kit ensures calls will not interfere with avionics equipment - it's questionable whether they do in any case - or terrestrial networks, Airbus said. In other words, Airbus owns your phone until you get off the plane.

The system will be operated and maintained by Airbus subsidiary OnAir. Similarly, it's Boeing's subsidiary, Connexion, which has already said it will roll-out in-flight mobile phone systems during 2006. Both companies' kit is expected to be available for each others' aircraft.

Germany is expected to lift the ban on in-flight mobile usage next year after an EC review of the technology and the issues surrounding on-board wireless telephony found that the benefits of enabling phone usage outweighed the disadvantages. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has said it too will review its rules on the use of mobile phones during flights. ®

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