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.
- Assessing ROI for Mobile Acceleration Clients This EMA® paper examines the business case for deploying mobile WAN optimization client software and builds a ROI model based on the experiences...
- The Apple-ization of the Enterprise: Understanding IT's New World Read this paper for how to tackle Apple-ization (and the related consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device/BYOD).
- A Practical Introduction to Enterprise Mobility Management Read the white paper to better understand the basic concepts within mobility management and to learn how you can apply EMM technology to...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- 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...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts