BMI has become the first British airline to allow passengers to use mobile phones on their aircraft. But the airline has stopped short of allowing passengers to make phone calls while in the air.
BMI will only allow passengers to use mobile phones to text or to access the internet. The price of texts or internet access will be set by the customer’s mobile operator and will be in line with their roaming charges.
The BMI service will be provided by in-flight mobile technology company OnAir and will be trialled for six months on flights between Heathrow and Moscow with a view to rolling it out to other routes later in the year.
Ofcom allows mobiles
Using mobile phones on aircraft was given the green light earlier this year by Ofcom, the telecommunications watchdog. A number of airlines expressed interest in seeking approval by the regulator including Ryanair and Air France. Ryanair had hoped to allow the use of mobiles on board their aircraft from last summer but they are still awaiting regulatory approval.
Onboard mobile connection
The onboard service will work by connecting a passenger’s mobile to an onboard base station. Both of these must be switched off during take-off and landing to ensure they do not interfere with mobile networks on the ground. Once the aircraft reaches 9,480ft (3000m) the system may be switched on by cabin crew.
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