Farewell to flight mode: The European Commission allows the construction of a mobile network on airplanes

Photo by Shiwa ID on Unsplash

Passengers traveling within the European Union can use their mobile phones with maximum capacity and features, just like with a ground-based 5G mobile network. According to a decision by the European Commission, airlines can also deploy the latest 5G technology in their aircraft alongside previous generations of mobile communications.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: “5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies. There are no longer any limits to the possibilities that super-fast, high-capacity connectivity offers.

Since 2008, the Commission Implementing Decision has reserved certain frequencies for mobile communications on airplanes, allowing airlines to offer messaging, phone calls and data services to passengers flying in the EU. This update of the Commission Implementing Decision on mobile communications on board aircraft paves the way for the widespread deployment of 5G services.

The service is provided in the cabin of an equipped aircraft using special networking equipment called a “pico cell” to connect users and route calls, texts and data, typically over a satellite network, between the aircraft and the ground cellular network.

The commission also changed to Implementing Decision on 5 GHz Frequency Bandsmaking the tapes available to Wi-Fi on the road, for example in cars and buses. The change decision lays the foundation for innovation in the automotive industry and potentially for metaverse applications. According to the amendment of the implementing decision, Member States shall make the 5 GHz frequency bands available for use on board road vehicles as early as possible and no later than 30 June 2023.

The question remains whether airlines are ready to bring this technology on board. And that passengers are willing to pay the (high?) ​​cost price for data.

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