That’s a good start, Australia!

Just read an article from It Wire about how Australia is gearing up to allow in-flight mobile phone use, although passengers will likely be limited to GPRS and SMS. Hey, that’s a good start, Australia!

US lawmakers, do you still think your Hang-Up legislation is a good idea? Honestly? Come on. Think!!!

Some key pars from the story but please read the whole thing:

The ACMA is proposing new spectrum licensing rules that would enable airlines to offer mobile phone services in-flight, but these are likely to be limited to SMS and GPRS data – Australian airlines aren’t keen to offer voice services.

In practice such a service would be implemented via a small cellular base station, a picocell, installed on board the aircraft along with a control unit. Communication with the outside world would be via a satellite link.

The control unit would block most of the frequencies normally used by mobile phones, preventing them from communications directly with terrestrial cellular networks and would force them to use one of a handful of specific bands to communicate with the picocell.

The ACMA has already amended prohibitions on the use of mobile phone jammers to allow for operation of the control unit and has now issued a discussion paper looking at various options for licensing the spectrum that an in-flight mobile service would use. Submissions are due by 29 January 2010.

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27 Responses to That’s a good start, Australia!

  1. thewinchester December 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Thankfully voice calls will still be a no-no. Sorry, but the air is the one of the few places we can still get some peace and quiet.

    Any carrier who even proposes in-flight calling will see pax voting on the idea with their dollars… flowing to other sane carriers.

  2. Mathew McBride December 9, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    After each party gets a cut of the pie, voice charges are likely to be so high only the top paying passengers would use them.

    In which case the only people using it would be in first/business where everyone has good headphones on :)

    i.e Singapore Airlines has had ‘sky phones’ (in seat) for more than a decade. They cost so much, I doubt anybody has complained about noise.

  3. Bob December 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    That’s the problem with the new business models, Matthew. In-flight chatting could be very inexpensive and we’d all be subjected to those annoying conversations the big-mouth next to us can’t wait to have. Yet the industry providing the technology keeps pushing for it. Luckily, Mary seems to be the only one who wants to see it happen!

  4. Mary Kirby December 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    All by myself, don’t wanna be all by myself anymore. I could sing it but you’d beg me to stop :)

  5. TL December 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    If one day voice calls are available, maybe by then the airlines could equip each seat with a ‘cone of silence ‘ a la secret agent Smart. Until then, I will continue to make do with my trusty ear defenders in trains and planes.

    In the former case there is though a downside… after a beer and a nap, it is almost too easy not to get off the train when you are supposed to…

    In the latter case, sitting near a cute two year old who quite vocally and physically refuses to be strapped in for the descent only helps marginally…

    I do have a different question for Mary though. In all these fancy IFE systems, do any of them offer collaborative games, IM or whatever with other passengers through the IFE’s portal?

    There seems to be such a focus on comms mainly for business/work etc. as an obvious revenue stream, but what about the above (and maybe endless Pingu too) being something that parents would also pay extra for to keep their kids occupied???



  6. Dave December 11, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Personally, I’d rather have the IFE industry and airlines focusing on making the experience of flying less of a living nightmare than concentrate on phone services. I mean I was flying on US Air this past Monday and it was horrible. There was no IFE to speak of and no leg room. Fortunately, I had liqoured myself up pretty well prior to each of my three flights to make it more bearable, but even with 110 oz of beer- it still sucked- at much of that was before 10 am.

  7. Peter December 15, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Yes this is pointless for most of us.
    The phones will be too expensive to use and trying to shout louder than your neighbor to be heard on the other end will make most flights unbearable.
    The airlines do seem to be trying to get rid of their passengers at the moment. Extra charges for printing boarding passes and bigger charges for not printing them.
    I wonder how much they will want to charge those of us who like to sleep on planes for NOT using their ife systems…….????

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    I know this is going to sound a bit old fashioned but, I really like taking care hearing and whilst I do agree with the previous poster and I really hope I do not get shot down for saying this, but I believe it is important to take all things in moderation.

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