Ofcom today announced plans to allow mobile phone calls on UK airlines in EU airspace, following the first ever authorised in-flight call last week.
The regulator hopes airline operators will implement the measures ‘as soon as practicable’, and it could see calls being made on UK flights this year.
Aircraft will have an onboard base station which will be turned on by air stewards above 3,000 metres, and mobiles will connect to the system for 2G data, voice and text services. If successful it could be extended to 3G.
During the announcement Ofcom raised concerns that mile-high calls could lead to sky-high bills, and it warned operators that it will ‘monitor the situation closely’.
The plan to allow mobile calls on planes has been developed jointly with other EU countries, however take up in the UK is subject to approval by the Civil Aviation Authority and European Aviation Safety Agency, and new equipment will have to be installed on planes to stop the signal interfering with the aircraft’s navigation system.
Last Friday, the first ever authorised in-flight mobile call was made on an Emirates flight between Dubai and Casablanca.