Winner Of In-Flight Broadband Spectrum Wants Cell Phones On Planes, Too - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Infrastructure
News
6/7/2006
03:32 PM
50%
50%

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.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll