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back to article First permitted in-flight mobile call made

UK communications regulator Ofcom yesterday cleared the way for mobile phone calls to be made on board aircraft, but airline Emirates has already begun allowing passengers to phone home from the wide blue yonder. The airline today claimed it was the first commercial airline to have permitted a mobile call to be made from a plane …

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Roaming?

Even with micro-power picocells on board, I still want to know how they plan on stopping people using the "Select Network" option of their phone to bypass that and connect directly to a ground-based cell, at much higher power outputs from the handset, to avoid the undoubtedly extortionate inflight roaming change that will be levied.

Anyone?

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Unhappy

The last place of freedom has gone

The last sanctuary from the arsehole with the mobile phone is soon to be no more. Not only will we have to content with seats that were designed for agrophobic midgets and those "little darlings" that seek to piss everyone off on the plane while being totally invisble to their sibling parents, but we'll have the arseholes describing every bit of their journey to their nearest & dearest for the whole flight. Then when they're bored / run out of credit they'll start to play with the ringtones and we'll all be treated to polyphonic/static-riddled mp3 renditions of indecipherable ditties and various messaging tones.

What the hell could anyone possibly have to say to someone that can't wait until they get off the plane? It's not like you can drive a bit faster or take a short-cut.

The introduction of allowing mobiles on planes will have to be accompanied by training the trolley-dollies to remove mobiles from rectal cavities.

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And, so, it begins...

...anyone want to start a pool on when the first in-flight riot breaks out because of some rude-assed doorknob yakking on a mobile phone _all_the_way_through_the_whole_friggin'_flight_?

You think "air rage" is a problem _now_... Y'know, I'm not normally a violent guy -- in fact, I'm a long-haired, spliff-smoking, tie-dyed-in-the-wool Deadhead -- but I'm actually looking forward to the day when I can introduce some nap-disrupting mobile-phone yakker to my good buddy, Mr. Knuckles.

Cripes.

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HB
Unhappy

Guaranteed air rage

It's bad enough being stuck on a bus or train with someone who has a perpetual need to be attached to their phone, but if this becomes common place on long haul flights, then people are going to get hurt!

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How to land a plane fast

Typical phone conversation between Jack and Tim, Tim is in the plane, Jack is in a poor reception area on terra-firma

Tim

: Hi Jack

Jack

: Hello, I can't hear you very well

Tim - raising his voice

: I said Hi Jack

And the rest is history

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DJ
Unhappy

Cancel my reservation...

I suppose it will be interesting to see if this proves to be an incentive to choose or to avoid an airline offering this service.

As a semi-regular flier, the last thing I need is some moron shouting into his cell and thus, my ear, during what has become an increasingly unpleasant exeperience.

Will airlines offer a 'no cell-phone' section on such flights? Is this even practical?

Wireless internet access? You bet. Cell phone service? No thanks.

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Stop

I concur

Mobile phone calls may only be taken outside the aircraft. That is all

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Please ensure your table is up...

and chair is in an upright position, the captain has illuminated the no-mobile phone signal (convienently replacing the no smoking sign) so please switch off your phone as we prepare to take off - or crash in a firey ball of hell, thankyou for choosing our airline for this filght....

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Reminds me of an IT joke

A passenger is sitting in an airliner using his laptop, and a message appears on his screen:

'Bluetooth: new device found: Airbus A310'

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Re: Roaming?

Oh, have you ever tried to turn your phone on at 38,000 feet?

There is no chance you will ever get a GSM signal there even over a large city, let alone in the middle of the Atlantic.

Having said that, I hope the airines will think fifty times before actually allowing calls on their flights. I expect a sharp increase in people willing to hijack their plane and CFIT it into a (airline HQ?) building otherwise.

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IT Angle

Do mobes(tm) actually interfere with 'aircraft operations'?

I always thought that it was a ruse along the lines of 'no outside food' in cinemas. How exactly would phones interfere with planes? I've always wondered... Links to New Scientist articles or Mythbuster youtube clips greatly appreciated...

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I'M ON THE PLANE...

...YES I'LL BE HOME FOR DINNER. WHAT ARE WE HAVING? I'M VERY IMPORTANT YOU KNOW!

Presumably the outbound calls will be routed the same way as Skyphones. Oh sorry, you lot in the back don't have them....

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Should make it easy

to phone the bomb in the hold!

Or maybe they didn't think about that.

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Not likely

My cricket bat says the person sitting next to me will seriously regret using their mobile phone if I'm asleep.

Thing is the dicks that can't shut up for five minutes already use their phones on planes regardless of whether it's allowed. And usually at the most dangerous points of any flight "Hello.. yeah we're taking off!" How vital that must be for the loved ones back home to know, almost as irrelevant as "Yeah.. we're landing on the runway right now.. it'll be another 30 minutes before I get off, and up to an hour before I get my bags, then go through customs and immigration. So yep, you're absolutely right, there was no point at all in me risking making this call right now - it could easily have waiting until I got to the terminal, or even when I was collecting my bags!"

And while admittedly the risk of the plane blowing up is pretty low just because someone used their phone - having the instrumentation going screwy while making a landing in zero visibility is generally the sort of thing I'd prefer to avoid.

"What? I've buggered up the ILS? I might be a bit late then, bit of a bumpy ride at the moment - was that one of our wheels I just saw fly past the window?!"

Again, small chance. However one thing I can absolutely guarantee has a massive chance of occuring - almost 100%. If you wake me up on a flight, shouting your personal life down a phone for the benefit of everyone sitting within 1/2 a mile of your obnoxious self - you'll personally find out whether cell phones double as anal sex toys.

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*sigh*

Great, because we all know how courteous people are with their mobiles. Air travel is miserable enough already without some chav or suit in the next seat showing us all how "important" they are by being on the phone all the bloody time.

Until we reach a point where our schools don't have to ban the things, where cinemas and even churches don't have to remind people to turn them off, and where every other twit in an SUV isn't swerving erratically from lane to lane while holding that oh-so-important conversation, it's obvious that the sheeple aren't responsible enough to be allowed to use mobile phones *anywhere* yet.

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One thing I don't get...

I'm going to sound like I crawled out from under a rock. Doesn't this already work then, at least when you are close to the surface (eg shortly after take off, flowing over a city etc)?

I seem to recall that the hijacked victims of the 9/11 attacks left poignant voicemails to their loved ones' by calling from their cellphones. Or was that all made up?

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Solution to the irritation

I thought that its been 100% essential to have some loud / noise blocking (cancling is expensive... all I need is a bit of foam) headphones to live through any flight for some time now. I mean as it stands right now there are invariably crying children, in flight 'entertainment,' old women talking about their grandchildren, people coughing, and who knows what else. My cheap set of in-ear headphones and some soothing music ("Still Alive" from the ending of Portal) keep me sane and isolated from the packed in crazies, and I don't think that phone use will affect that at all.

Plus these calls are routed through the airline's cell, meaning that they're going to charge a criminal amount for them, which is punishment enough to anyone who wants to spend 5 hours yacking.

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@Answers to questions

1) A mobile phone can *THEORETICALLY* interfere with the operation of a plane, because it can induct signals into electrical circuits. I'd be very surprised if there isn't any interaction; my mobile phone once made my mouse pointer move across the screen (it was laid over the mouse cable, when someone called) and it can't be left near my radio/alarm without du-du-dudu-du-dudu every few minutes. There are anecdotal reports of pilots finding out that 'odd things' are happening on a plane and cabin crew finding mobiles turned on, the 'odd things' ceasing when the phones were turned off. The crucial point here is that it hasn't been proved that they are safe and the consequences of them not being safe are very, very severe, aircraft engineering is, rightly, very, very wary of anything untested.

2) You can (from a functional point of view) use a mobile phone on a plane, if it is sufficiently low. The problem here is that your phone will try to establish a connection to all of the base stations that it can see (at full transmission power too, which will aggravate any potential problems from point 1.) The problem here is that, because you are up in the air, you can see a whole load of base stations and your phone tries to connect to them. This causes the routing algorithms in the network you are connecting to screw up as it tries to work out where the hell you actually are.

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And when the picocell fails?

Or is accidentally switched off in mid-Atlantic?? 50 cell phones swiftly ramp up to max power in a desperate attempt to contact the nearest working base station 10 km down and 2000 km East.

It will be the ultimate test of whether avionics can resist EM interference, but I don't want to be on board when it happens.

PS I think the calls from hijacked flights on 9/11 were from the satellite phones installed between the seats, popular with US carriers. I sit to be corrected.

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Anonymous Coward

Roaming? II

You'll be able to connect to a base station but as you rise up, you'll find the signal very rapidly drops away to nothing. Reason: the antenna system is designed to transmit and receive a horizontal fan-like pattern with the minimum vertical deviation - after all, the network designers didn't expect to 'see' mobiles floating several thousand feet up, it's a waste of power to fire signals up and it's easier to make a high-gain antenna if it only needs to focus in one plane.

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Great

The one place I can't take my phone jammer, and they go and let people use phones on it.

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Anonymous Coward

re: skyphones

"Presumably the outbound calls will be routed the same way as Skyphones. Oh sorry, you lot in the back don't have them...."

What 3rd world airline do you fly with, emirates and singapore have phones and email in cattle class. You have to pay to use it but it's only a few dollars.

Made me laugh when our boss said of his BA first class where he was able to have any DVD he liked put in for him - on either of the above the entire plane can watch anything from the massive movie / tv database just by clickong on their touch screen.

BA - backwards airlines.

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People can already talk to each other

And do so. What's different about the phone.

If it works as well as the seatback phones (like, almost not at all) then there won't be much chatting going on. Maybe a few texts.

Lufthansa had WiFi on their planes for a while, but took it out again - I'm guessing lack of takeup.

In the case of the plane that was <strike>shot down by fighters</strike>"heroically recaptured by its passengers", I think the calls were mostly voiced by actors.

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Planes aren't exactly electrically quiet environments

You already get cell service on cruise liners through a satellite link. It works fine on the ship but since the traffic is routed through a base station on some remote carribean island the charges are at nosebleed level. I expect aircraft will use the same system.

Planes aren't exactly electrically quiet environments. If you something with a radio in it then 'accidentally' activate in flight. You won't crash, but unless you're listening to FM and you're right by the window you are going to hear a lot of noise.

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They have gone this far...

Why not just implant a call phone equivalent into everyone (for a fee). It would be biological powered (no need for a battery), and then it could read your mind so you don't need to talk.

It could also be used in place of a fingerprint to identify you for those going through the new terminal at LHR.

Step right up and we'll install one for you.

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And with mobile phone use also comes...

...The annoying shit heads who think it is okay to have their phone playing music at full volume. That is possibly more infuriating than people talking non-stop on mobiles.

It is bad enough on buses and trains, but on planes when it is REALLY confined..... I can feel me going the same way as Mike Flugennock!

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