U.K. Gives Preliminary Approval To Cell Phones On Aircraft

[Satellite Today 3-26-08] Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for U.K. communications industries, confirmed plans to enable airlines to offer mobile communications services on U.K.-registered aircraft, Ofcom announced March 26.
    The system routes cell phone service through an on-board base station, which enables the phones to use the aircraft’s network service to make and receive calls routed via a satellite link to the network on the ground. The announcement comes less than a week after the world’s first authorized in-flight mobile call was made on a commercial flight from Dubai to Casablanca via Inmarsat‘s network using AeroMobile’s in-flight solution.
    “We welcome Ofcom’s decision, which opens development of services within the European Union,” Andrew Sukawaty, Inmarsat’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Inmarsat recognises that a great deal of thought will be applied by airlines on how best to introduce this new service. The Inmarsat-based system can be used to establish quiet zones, time restrictions or voice service limitations, giving airlines the flexibility they need. Inmarsat can supply the opportunity; the airlines will determine the relevant applications.”
    The European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority must still approve the plan.

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