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Airlines can offer phone services

Telecoms regulator authorises 3G and 4G services on flights in French airspace, but leaves final decision to airlines

THE FRENCH telecoms regulator has paved the way for airline passengers to make and receive mobile phone calls during flights.

L’Autorité de régulation des télécoms (Arcep) announced today that it has authorised the provision of 3G and 4G services on planes during flights over French airspace, but said that the final decision on whether to allow passengers to make phone calls on flights rested with the airlines.

The decision, approved by the French government, comes following a public consultation, and includes a number of restrictions.

Mobile services can only be used above 3,000m, and on a limited bandwidth - 2100MHz for 3G and 1800MHz for 2G and 4G.

“Airlines will be able to provide passengers on their aircraft with 3G and 4G services, provided they comply with civil aviation regulations.

“All airlines will have the option of offering these in-flight services, and will be free to set their own prices,” Arcep said.

Of the mobile telephone service providers in France, only Bouyges Telecom uses the 1800MHz band for 4G.

The new conditions for 3G and 4G use in flight are in addition to the conditions for using 2G frequencies on board aircraft that have been in effect since 2008.

Earlier this year, both Ryanair and easyJet relaxed their rules on the use of Personal Electronic Devices, allowing them to be used in “flight mode”, meaning no internet or phone connection.

The restrictions were in place so that mobile phone signals would not interfere with communication between the cockpit and the control tower.

Photo: Kai Hendry

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