Air travellers could soon make calls from their mobile while on a flight under new proposals from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
New antennas could be fixed to aircraft that will mean passengers will be able to make phone calls and text while in the air, although not during take-off and landing.
The proposals will be discussed at a FCC meeting on 12 December and will then be open to public comments.
“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” FCC’s chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”
In-flight mobile providers have welcomed the announcement, with one confident that previous technical concerns by the FCC will be eradicated.
“Forget the hyperbole about the chaos inflight cell phone usage could cause. The issue simply hasn’t arisen anywhere in the world in the past six years,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.
Dawkins also played down potential concerns from passengers that phone calls would create more noise onboard, saying: “An aircraft is a noisy environment, so the sound of a conversation doesn’t carry very far.”
Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile said the relaxation will create more ancillary selling opportunities for airlines and help US carriers compete with others that have already adopted connectivity solutions such as its own.
“The Notice of Proposed Rule Making is also great news for our current airline partners. As well as offering an improved service, extending coverage to the United States means increased ancillary revenues for those airlines that offer mobile connectivity,” he explained. “We are seeing increasing demand for our services as more and more airlines and passengers realise the benefits of inflight mobile connectivity. The ease of using your mobile phone inflight makes it perfect for checking voicemail, sending SMS messages, checking emails or updating your social media status.”
Texting is the most popular service on AeroMobile’s network with 60% of users sending texts through its services.