In-flight mobile connectivity in USA is inevitable: ECS

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Early adopters of in-flight mobile connectivity in Europe and elsewhere will ultimately prove to US regulators that the nation's carriers should be permitted to use this technology, a top executive with ECS predicts.

At present the FAA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ban the in-flight usage of mobile phones on US flights. Legislation moving through Congress would impose a permanent federal ban.

ECS has been handling the install and integration STC process for equipping Ryanair Boeing 737s to feature OnAir's in-flight mobile service. Peter Chilsen, director business development at the firm, says US lawmakers and the FCC may succeed in slowing the USA's adoption of in-flight mobile connectivity for a while. But the service is likely to eventually be offered to US consumers.

Speaking today at the Inmarsat Aeronautical Conference in Vancouver, Chilsen pointed out that EASA has set exceptionally high standards for in-flight mobile connectivity providers. "They put us through a lot of hoops to get certification," he says.

Consequently, as European carriers - as well as airlines in Asia and the Middle East - move to quickly equip their aircraft with mobile connectivity, US regulators' safety concerns will be put to rest and their excuses about why the service cannot be offered in the USA will run out.

The concern that passengers will talk incessantly and disrupt other passengers will also be quelled. There has not been one complaint by passengers, says the ECS executive.

In the USA, "passengers, especially the young passengers that want to connect", will prove there is a growing appetite for this sort of service. And, in short order, it will become apparent that banning the service on US carriers will be "unfair" and puts them at a disadvantage, says Chilsen.