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Users Want In-Flight Data, Not Voice, Survey Finds

Only 11 percent of 50,000 respondents want cellular voice access in the air, but more than two-thirds support cellular data access, a worldwide survey has found.
A survey worldwide covering 50,000 people found only a small number -- about 11 percent -- approve of in-flight voice calling but that a strong majority support in-flight use of cellular data, according to market research firm IDC.

While a small majority supported in-flight voice access, about 64 percent supported in-flight use of cellular devices for data, IDC said in a statement. Of the various types of data, text messaging is most likely to be popular during flights, the survey found. Overall, the more interactive the wireless data application was, the more likely it was to be popular, according to the survey.

These results open the way for increased profits for both airlines and for wireless carriers, the market research firm said. Specifically, it would enable both the carriers and the airlines to provide new types of mobile commerce and to encourage data usage as a way of generating revenue.

"By comprehending the needs and criteria specific to the user segment and location, mobility companies can enhance their products to better serve and target the desired customers and market segments," Dana Thorat, an IDC research manager, said in a statement.

While the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Federal Aviation Administration are re-considering their ban on in-flight cell phone use, the move has garnered little support either among users or the airline industry. For example, Cingular Wireless said last week that it does not favor in-flight voice access, although it did support in-flight data usage.

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