It's good to talk... but at 30,000 feet?
Like it or not, this is the way things are headed after the EU confirmed it has given its backing to a plan which will introduce a dedicated space in the aviation airwaves for mobile phone use.
Headed up by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the proposed system will introduce an onboard base station - called the 'pico cell' - which creates a network large enough to cover the entire plane and automatically re-routes signals through a satellite which then communicates with mobile networks on the ground.
Calls through this system will be more expensive than regular calls, but the EC said it will monitor pricing and step in if it deems costs unnecessarily excessive. There will also be initial support only for 2G not 3G connectivity.
Sounding a note of caution in all this is UK regulator Ofcom which says there are many evaluation stages that have to be passed before the tech is officially introduced. Despite this however both the CAA and EASA are hopeful that base stations could be rolled out during 2008.
While no doubt beneficial to those making the calls it has to be asked whether this is good for the sanity of fellow passengers? I'll expect a 5,000 word socio-environmental essay tomorrow. Now discuss in groups...