Whether you like it or not, in-flight mobile calls may soon be coming to an airline near you.
Air New Zealand recently signed up with Geneva-based OnAir, an onboard system that allows airline passengers to use mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices to communicate with the ground using voice and/or data connections.
While some carriers, such as British Airways and Qatar Airways, use OnAir to allow only data communications (text, e-mail), Air New Zealand joins several other airlines, such as Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian and TAP Air Portugal, that use the technology to allow mobile voice calls on certain flights. It’s a highly controversial notion in the US, where lawmakers have proposed laws that would ban in-flight voice calls.
OnAir and other companies such as Aeromobile employ picocell technology, deemed safe by aviation authorities. With the flip of a switch, any airline using OnAir can set the system to offer both data and voice calls on any flight. (Voice calling is available to anyone with a GSM phone and an international roaming agreement– calls typically run $2-$3 per minute)
To read the rest of this post and learn which other airlines could be offering cell phone service, click here and read it on my BBC.com Travel Blog
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