Feeds

EU sets cellphone users loose in aircraft

Will you shut the f**k up

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The European Commission did its bit for the battle against climate change today by backing mobile phone calls on aircraft, thereby stripping air travel of any residual glamour or appeal.

But the Commission also warned operators that it would be watching closely to ensure they don’t try and scalp their air-bound customers to offset price caps on other parts of their business.

Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner, said: “In-flight mobile phone services can be a very interesting new service especially for those business travellers who need to be ready to communicate wherever they are, wherever they go. However, if consumers receive shock phone bills, the service will not take off.”

The Commission’s statement emphasised that the current regulations on roaming only cover terrestrial networks, but pointedly said those regulations are due to be reviewed at the end of the year, adding that it will “closely monitor the levels and transparency of prices charged to consumers”.

Reding paid scant lip service to the fact that the Commission will have made air travel even more stressful and intrusive, by forcing passengers to listen to businessmen and holidaymakers braying into their phones above the engine noise.

“I also call on airlines and operators to create the right conditions on board aircraft to ensure that those who want to use in-flight communication services do not disturb other passengers," she said.

Given that budget-conscious airlines are loath to even allocate you a seat before you get on the plane, we look forward to seeing how operators work out how they can best monetise peace and quiet.

The UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, gave its approval to inflight calling last month. Ofcom has been skirmishing with Reding’s department in recent months, as the EU flexes its muscles on pan-European telecoms regulation.

Reding couldn’t resist niggling national regulators in her statement today, saying “Pan-European telecom services, such as in-flight mobile telephony, need a regulatory 'one-stop shop' to operate throughout Europe and this is why the Commission has acted today.”

At a technical level, today’s policy envisages in-flight networks using picocells for GSM phones operating on 1900MHz. As well as a picocell, planes will carry a network control unit to ensure phones can only use the picocell, cutting highpower transmissions by phones and reducing any possible interference with the plane’s own systems. The services will only be offered at altitudes over 3000m. Calls will then be routed by satellite.

Pricing of inflight services will be set by the customer’s home service provider, “taking into account all charges, including agreements with the MCA provider, the air carriers, the satellite service providers, and other mobile network operators”. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
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
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.