Is In-Flight Calling A Good Idea, Or A Bad One? - InformationWeek

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4/7/2008
02:50 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Is In-Flight Calling A Good Idea, Or A Bad One?

Today the European Union cleared the air for passengers to make phone calls from their mobile phones while in flight. Even though the FCC essentially put the idea on hold here in the United States, American travelers are sure to encounter the phenomenon when overseas. Do we say "yay" or "nay"?

Today the European Union cleared the air for passengers to make phone calls from their mobile phones while in flight. Even though the FCC essentially put the idea on hold here in the United States, American travelers are sure to encounter the phenomenon when overseas. Do we say "yay" or "nay"?Honestly, all I can think of is the annoyance. It's already taxing enough to listen to businessman Bob check in with his boss about six different accounts before the cabin door closes. I dread Snarky Suzy and her terrible teen accent even more, though. For the time being, all these calls are silenced when the cabin door shuts. And that is a big relief.

Well, no longer for European travelers. The EU has given the go-ahead to mobile operators and airlines alike to offer in-flight calling. The EU Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding, already has said that the EU won't actually set a price cap on the service, but has strongly discouraged the operators from charging too much for the service. Further, Reuters reports that the EU executive will harmonize a pan-European framework for mobile communications on aircraft so passengers can make and receive calls, text messages, and use e-mail with their own mobile phone. (In case you were wondering, the EU conducted six months worth of tests and determined that in-flight calling is safe to passengers on the plane.)

Reding also wants to simplify the technical requirements for using mobile phones and the way EU states will grant national licenses to airlines to make it a more homogenous and consistent experience. Lastly, she directed airlines to make sure passengers who don't want to be disturbed aren't.

I can't imagine how this is going to happen unless airlines start creating Phoning Sections, and Non-Phoning Sections with some sort of hard partition.

Can you imagine someone chatting next to you the entire time you're on a red-eye (OK, well at least until their battery dies)? What if you're on an early morning flight and just want to get some shut-eye before a meeting at your destination city?

What are your thoughts? Will this be a lifesaver, or just something else about air travel to make your blood pressure rise? One study says that it can increase productivity. I am not sure I buy it.

Come this summer, all I can suggest is that you invest in a good pair of noise-canceling or -isolating earphones.

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