Feeds

Ofcom hits green on in-flight calling

EU price caps won't apply 3km up

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Ofcom will allow airlines to install GSM base stations on their planes, operating at 1800MHz, as long as they are only used more than 3km from the ground.

The regulator has no say over the safety of using a mobile on a plane, but is responsible for deciding what frequencies in-flight calling can use and how much to charge airlines for using them. For the moment, services will be restricted to 1800MHz and every aircraft will need its own licence - though licenses will be free of charge.

The statement (pdf) follows a consultation document published last year, and addresses the concerns of various companies in the industry, concerned individuals, and one (apparently fictional*) consumer organisation.

Seventeen of the 35 respondents were concerned about the potential irritation to other passengers, but Ofcom compared this to serving alcohol on aircraft and said it's up to the airline to deal with.

Three respondents thought switched-on mobiles might be used to trigger bombs, though it's debatable if the existing ban would prevent the dedicated suicide bomber from switching on a handset in-flight.

The most legitimate concerns regarded potential interference and the cost of the tests needed to ensure it's not causing a problem.

Ofcom said its 3km altitude limit should deal with this, and expects to get access to flight plans (from the National Air Traffic Service) to identify any interference problems.

Also of concern was that in-flight calling would be subject to the cap on roaming rates applied across Europe. Calls made from a plane are routed by satellite, making them more expensive for the operator who wants to pass that cost on to the customer.

Ofcom states that the EU cap clearly applies to "terrestrial" systems, so expects in-flight use to be exempt, though it does suggest airlines should make call charges clear. ®

* The "Open Minds Foundation" which has no address, phone number, or website and is represented by a "Mr AM Constant I".

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?