Australia May Allow In-Flight Cell Calls - InformationWeek

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Government // Mobile & Wireless
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10/16/2008
07:26 PM
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Australia May Allow In-Flight Cell Calls

The government's Communication and Media Authority is contemplating lifting existing bans on in-flight cell phone calls, texts, and GPRS data.

If you plan to fly in Australia, you may soon be able to use your cell phone on the flight.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority is proposing to change the current prohibitions on cell phone calls in Australian airlines for domestic and international flights.

"Australia led the world when it tested in-flight GSM mobile phone services in 2007," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement. "There is growing recognition by regulators worldwide that in-flight mobile phone service can be deployed without interference to existing telecommunications services."

The ACMA has been testing in-flight calls for the last 18 months, and it said there haven't been reports of interference. The move could eventually lead to cell phone calls on flights, as well as text-messaging capabilities and GPRS data services.

The Australian agency is still seeking public comment on the change, and it did not say when a decision would be made.

Like Australia, the European Union is on the path toward allowing cell phone communication during flights. In April, the EU Commission rolled out plans to create a framework for mobile communications on planes so passengers could make calls, send SMS, and check e-mail on a handset.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration already bans cell phone calls during flight. In August, Congress moved forward with the Hang Up Act, which would make that ban permanent with certain exemptions for members of the flight crew and law enforcement officers.

Americans also appear to be divided on the subject. According to a study by the Department of Transportation, 45.2% of respondents said cell phones definitely or probably should not be used on a plane, while 39.2% said passengers should be allowed to use them.

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