Feeds

Mobile phones soon to be allowed on aircraft

Hiya, I'm on the plane

High performance access to file storage

Mobile phones will soon be heard on commercial aircraft, subject to regulatory approval. UK communications regulator Ofcom published a proposal (pdf) today that would license the right for passengers to make calls above an altitude of 3,000 metres.

However, Ofcom points out that its remit is limited to the regulation of spectrum and electronic communications services. Safety must be assured before phones are allowed to ring in the air – and safety is the responsibility of other regulators. These are the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and, in the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority.

Ofcom's main issue in spectrum management is that Mobile Communications on Aircraft (MCA) systems "should not generate any harmful interference to terrestrial networks". It notes a European standard that should reduce the risk. That standard states that the absolute minimum height above ground for any transmission from the system in operation shall be 3,000 metres.

Aircraft will need to be fitted with onboard networks for passengers' phones to operate and Ofcom believes the necessary equipment should be licensed rather than licence-exempt, "given the uncertainty surrounding the performance of these systems in operation and the substantial risks to terrestrial networks if they were the victims of interference".

Ofcom said it does not currently envisage any additional fees being charged for the use of the spectrum as a result of it being licensed. It adds that a move to a deregulated environment could be taken in the future if the risk of interference is proved negligible.

Onboard networks will be allocated mobile country codes and mobile network codes, one for each service provider, to give connectivity to passengers.

Ofcom acknowledged consumer concerns "about the potential for discomfort and agitation among passengers as a result of others using mobile phones". But this is the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority, it said.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.