Winner Of In-Flight Broadband Spectrum Wants Cell Phones On Planes, Too - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Infrastructure

Winner Of In-Flight Broadband Spectrum Wants Cell Phones On Planes, Too

AirCell wants to connect people to their cell phones on flights. Many passengers dread the thought.

AirCell, one of the high bidders that won an in-flight broadband license late last week in a Federal Communications Commission auction, wants to do more with its spectrum than provide Internet access. The manufacturer of airborne telecommunication systems also hopes to convince carriers to allow cell phone use on airplanes.

A lot would have to happen before it would be allowed, including regulatory changes and deals with cellular providers. But if AirCell pulls it off, it would re-ignite one of the most heated debates in the air: Should travelers be allowed to use cell phones in the air, even if it's safe?

Nine companies bid in the FCC auction for the right to license the 800-MHz spectrum now owned by Verizon Airfone for the rarely used in-flight telephones. AirCell, which paid $31.3 million for one of the licenses, says it has a broadband system that can be ready by next year to let passengers on airplanes use their Wi-Fi devices, such as laptops and PDAs, for Internet access. AirCell also said this week it will reach out to wireless carriers with hopes of making it possible for cell-phone customers to use their phones and PDAs while in the air in the same way they now use those devices on the ground, in exchange for a roaming fee.

Cell phone aren't allowed on commercial planes today, so federal regulations would have to change to allow this. Even then, many airlines are hesitant about allowing phones on planes even if they're allowed by regulation, because so many passengers say they don't want the annoyance from fellow travelers' talking. Nearly 70% of them want to keep restrictions on cell phone use, a poll released last spring by the National Consumer League and a flight attendants' association found. Some have said they wouldn't allow voice-over-IP calling if Internet access is offered on board.

AirCell has yet to complete the official licensing process with the FCC and will be having discussions with a several airlines interested in providing broadband to their passengers. The AirCell network will initially cover the U.S. and will be expanded to the rest of North America, including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
IT Careers: 10 Industries with Job Openings Right Now
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/27/2020
Commentary
How 5G Rollout May Benefit Businesses More than Consumers
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/21/2020
News
IT Leadership in Education: Getting Online School Right
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/20/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
Download this report from InformationWeek, in partnership with Dark Reading, to learn more about how today's IT operations teams work with cybersecurity operations, what technologies they are using, and how they communicate and share responsibility--or create risk by failing to do so. Get it now!
Video
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
Slideshows
Flash Poll