US regulators hang up on mid-air phone calls

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US regulators hang up on mid-air phone calls

US regulators won't allow in-air phone calls.

The US Federal Communications Commission has abandoned plans to allow mobile phones to be used on airplanes within the US.

The organisation in December 2004 started studying potential interference issues for cellular networks on the ground by phones on airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also prohibits the use of mobile phones out of fears that the devices interfere with the aircraft's communication systems.

The FCC said that it had "insufficient technical information" to make a decision. The organisation also deemed it premature to issue any statements on the impact of cellular devices in mid air because airlines and device makers are still conducting their own studies. The government institution may reconsider its position at a later time if new technical data becomes available.

OnAir is preparing to offer mobile service on board of European aircraft. The service will only support the GSM standard and to prevent phones from connecting to domestic mobile networks, passengers will only be able to use their phones above 10,000 feet.

Although OnAir has yet to get regulatory approval, company officials in the past have dismissed regulatory hurdles as a formality.

Air France is scheduled to start a six-month test of the service shortly. Ryanair already has committed to equipping its entire fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft with OnAir's base station that uses a satellite connection to relay voice and data traffic to the ground.
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