Paris (France) – You soon will be hearing familiar Nokia ringtone’s while flying the friendly European skies. The European Aviation Safety Agency has approved in-flight mobile phone usage, but airline staff will have the final say and can disable or restrict usage at will. While some mobile phone addicts will rejoice at the ruling, they better be prepared for sky-high prices.
The mobile phone service will be offered through the OnAir system that will be installed on certain Airbus planes. The system only works when the plane is above 9800 feet because it bounces phone signals from within the cabin to a satellite – this prevents interference with ground-based towers.
The cabin crew will be able to disable all mobile phone calls at a flick of a switch. They can also restrict mobile phone service to SMS text-only messages.
You better grab that air sickness bag because we are about to tell you the price. OnAir estimates that calls will be around $2.50 a minute and SMS messages will probably cost around 50 cents each. No prices will be posted on the plane because it will vary depending on your provider and the location the plane is flying over.
The OnAir service is due to start in September 2007.