Air France launches in-flight cell phone trial
Permits SMS, e-mail, no voice for now
IDG News Service - Air France launched a commercial trial of an onboard cell phone service, but in a limited fashion that avoids a controversial aspect.
Travelers on certain Air France planes on European routes can send and receive short messages and, provided their phones support Internet access, send and receive e-mails.
Initially, travelers won't be able to make or receive voice calls. That limitation skirts an important issue -- whether cell phone talkers will annoy nearby passengers.
However, in about three months, Air France plans to allow voice calls, but said it will regulate the service "to maintain passengers' comfort and well-being." It did not elaborate.
Onboard calls and messages are routed through a small cellular base station inside the plane. From there, messages are transmitted over satellite to the ground and then onto the telephone network. The service is supplied by OnAir, a company part-owned by airplane maker Airbus.
To use their phones, passengers must dial as if they're making an international call. Air France did not say how much each message would cost for users, but said the price is comparable to traditional mobile phone use.
The planes come equipped with a new illuminated sign that instructs passengers when to keep their phones off. Travelers can send and receive messages only when the plane rises above 10,000 feet.
Tips for using the service will be explained on a leaflet in seat pockets, Air France said. In addition, users will be able to fill out a survey about their experiences using it. After six months, Air France will consider whether to launch the service on all its flights.
Airlines and regulators worldwide have been considering onboard cell phone use for years. Some regulators, including the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, have banned mobile phone use on airplanes. The European Union, however, has approved the idea, and various national regulators there have begun to allow it. Airlines in other regions, such as the Australian operator Qantas Airways Ltd., are also conducting more limited tests of the service.
JetBlue Airways, Yahoo Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. recently launched a service on one airplane in the U.S. that allows users to send and receive e-mail from BlackBerry phones, Wi-Fi smart phones and laptops. However, the service uses an onboard Wi-Fi network instead of cellular phone technology.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry Security Works Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more