5G in-flight calling and data could become a reality in Europe with new ruling

The European Commission is opening the door for European airlines to start offering 5G in-flight connectivity, the organization has announced, by allocating some spectrum for 5G in-flight as well as “previous generations of mobile technology”. . Passengers will connect to an on-board pico-cellular base station, which will then connect to terrestrial networks via satellite. Calls, texts and data should all be supported.

“5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European businesses,” said European Commissioner Thierry Breton. “The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to the possibilities offered by ultra-fast, high-capacity connectivity.” The Commission’s announcement does not give details on exactly when 5G services might become available to travellers.

“The sky is no longer a limit”

Although passengers have historically been asked to put their devices in “airplane mode” on board flights, the rules have been relaxed in recent years. In 2014, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency updated its guidelines to state that airlines need not require their passengers to use the mode for safety reasons. Airplane mode typically limits cellular connectivity, but often allows other wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

In-flight 5G shouldn’t create safety concerns because it uses different frequencies than those used for cockpit communications, the International Air Transport Association said. The telegraph. Phones will use the 5 GHz spectrum and above, while aircraft themselves will use the 4.2-4.4 GHz range for their connectivity.

In the United States, the relationship between 5G and the airline industry has been more strained, with airlines fearing earlier this year that the deployment of new 5G spectrum near airports could disrupt sensitive in-flight equipment. Spectrum rollout is now expected to take place by the middle of next year, giving airlines time to upgrade their planes with equipment that is not sensitive to the frequencies in use. Bloomberg notes that the FCC dropped plans in 2020 to allow in-flight cellular connectivity due to opposition for “security and national security reasons.”


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