One of a series of legislative hurdles in the path of on-board mobile telephone services has been cleared after telecommunications regulators agreed to adopt aviation-style country-of-registration governance.

Two companies, Connexion by Boeing and the Sita/Airbus/ Tenzing Communications consortium OnAir, have developed the technology for using cellular telephones in flight, but have been hampered by telecommunications rules that tie service providers to national borders.

Connexion by Boeing is likely to launch services first with a US domestic carrier, requiring authorisation from the US Federal Communications Commission, but OnAir is chasing European and Asian contracts, requiring a pan-European deal.

Such a deal was caught up in definitions of where the service provider, which uses an on-board picocell receiver and transmitter linked to a satellite, is regulated – by each territory overflown, by departure point or by the airline’s registration country.

The European telecoms regulator, the Conférence Européenne des Postes et Télécommunications, agreed late last month to adopt a proposal giving airline registration jurisdictions licensing authority for the picocell.

However, details such as interaction with ground-based providers while the aircraft is at airports, revenue splitting and technical standards have yet to be defined and a technical compatability study is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of next year, OnAir says.

This framework agreement could pave the way for services to start by the end of 2006, the company adds.

Source: Flight International