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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware

WirelessCabin: Use Your Mobile Phone on Airplanes 296

Posted by michael
from the e.t.-phone-home dept.
securitas writes "What if didn't have to turn off your mobile phone when you travel by air? eWEEK's Matthew Broersma reports on a European Commission project to enable mobile phone use on airplanes. The technology works by creating short-range 'picocells' that force transmission output power to drop to 1/1000th of normal, reducing electronic interference, then using a satellite uplink. The WirelessCabin project members include the German Aerospace Centre, Siemens, Ericsson and Airbus. Initial trials will use 'GSM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections' but will add CDMA and 3G standards. WirelessCabin is already making a picocell with CDMA2000. The first demonstrations are scheduled for this summer on Lufthansa long-haul flights with the A340-600 jet."
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WirelessCabin: Use Your Mobile Phone on Airplanes

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  • Sky high rates? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:42PM (#8919931)
    The only thing is, you might as well use the back-of-seat AirPhones to get to that satellite trnasponder rather than your own phone and the picocell...

    I get the feeling that even if this allows you to use your cell phone like normal, you're going to be considered to be on a "roaming tower" as far as your cell phone company is concerned because your cell phone company won't own the picocell. Therefore, forget about using your unlimited night and weekend minutes on these flights, you'll be still paying the same through-the-nose rates for plane-to-ground communications.
    • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:46PM (#8919990) Journal
      Therefore, forget about using your unlimited night and weekend minutes on these flights, you'll be still paying the same through-the-nose rates for plane-to-ground communications.

      Do cell phones actually interfere with airliners anyway? I mean c'mon -- are the systems onboard a modern aircraft really so fragile that my cell phone will bother them? Of course I always turn my phone off anyway because I don't want to be arrested and wind up in Cuba but still...

      Of course I do recall that with my old Nextel (i700 plus -- that phone was a beast) I could tell when a call was incoming before the ringer went off because it would interfere with nearby speakers. I've never seen a cell phone other then that one (and I've used lots of different cell phones) interfere with anything though.

      • His Monitor starts going nuts a few seconds before the cell phone rings. It's weird when you see it happen.

        Sean D.
        • His Monitor starts going nuts a few seconds before the cell phone rings.

          The exact same thing happened with my old cell phone and my old monitor, but only if the cell phone was lying on the table where it would be about 20 cm from the monitor. Obviously this means, the phone must know the call is comming, then why doesn't it start ringing until a few seconds later?
      • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Two things:

        1) When you're on the ground and your call drops because some jackass on an airplane owns the same cell you are on then you might care.

        2) When the only time you can get 3 hours of peace is on a flight from X to Y and you have to sit next to Joe on the phone to his secretary talking about the meeting he has five days from now (which he could call and talk to her about tomorrow) you might care.
        • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:01PM (#8920212) Journal
          When you're on the ground and your call drops because some jackass on an airplane owns the same cell you are on then you might care.

          Why would roaming between cells on an aircraft be any different then roaming between cells while driving? Do I kick people off their calls if I switch to a new tower when I drive behind a building? Somehow I doubt it -- the cell networks are designed with roaming in mind.

          When the only time you can get 3 hours of peace is on a flight from X to Y and you have to sit next to Joe on the phone to his secretary talking about the meeting he has five days from now (which he could call and talk to her about tomorrow) you might care.

          That's a physiological problem not a technical problem. My question was is there any technical reason why cell phones won't work from airplanes? They obviously do work -- some of the people on the hijacked planes during 9/11 called out on them -- yet the FAA won't let you use them because they might 'interfere'. Is this founded or just paranoia?

          • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:15PM (#8920396)
            Broadcasting from a plane is bad from a network point of view because you light up sveral hundred cells at a time. Since you are above them with clear line of sight your signal travels much farther than normal. Most of the time is traveld further than the frequency reuse distance, meaning that you just trashed the capacity of the cellular system.

            And yes, it is possible for Cell phones to affect accuracy of onboard instuments in older planes... There is NO GROUND PLANE on an aircraft. You are sitting a nice big faraday cage... so the onlything to absorb your signal is the equipment around you.

            From a practical standpoint I would prefer rules that ban Cells on aircraft for comfort reasons... an aircraft is close personal quarters... I really don't want to hear your conversation on a long flight... (AIRRAGE!)
        • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by luckyguesser (699385)
          When the only time you can get 3 hours of peace is on a flight from X to Y and you have to sit next to Joe on the phone to his secretary talking about the meeting he has five days from now (which he could call and talk to her about tomorrow) you might care.
          You say that as if it would be peaceful without cell phones! Hah! The little kid behind you doesn't care whether or not he/she could drive the most steel-nerved adult crazy within the course of a couple hours (or maybe it's the parent who refuses to d
      • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:2, Informative)

        by adam mcmaster (697132)
        Do cell phones actually interfere with airliners anyway? I mean c'mon -- are the systems onboard a modern aircraft really so fragile that my cell phone will bother them?

        There's an article [wired.com] in this month's Wired that talks about this. Basically, no it wouldn't cause a problem.
        • I know someone whose job it is to call cell telephone manufactures when they confiscate cell phones.

          If you use a cell phone, and it interferes with the controlls(auto pilot) the airline will buy your phone, then contact the fcc and the phone manufactures to complain that there phone is out side specs. It's not all phones, or even all the same model, just a 'bad' phone that came out of the line.

          If you read the article you link to, you would have noticed that it does not say that they are safe.
        • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hpa (7948)
          It won't cause a problem if the cell phone is working properly. The thing people are worried about (for valid or invalid reasons) are what happens if the cell phone is broken and starts transmitting (or have subcarriers or harmonics) on air traffic control or guidance frequencies. The likelihood is small, but it's likely to happen in the most critical moments of flight.

          Note that the subcarriers/harmonics problems isn't limited to intentional radiators (transmitters.)

      • Nokia 5160 (TDMA) will cause pops and rattles in my speakers and distort my crappy old 15" monitor at home, my 19" monitor at work seems to be immune to the interference tough. SMS messages seem to be worse about distortion than incomming calls as well.
      • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by whovian (107062) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:02PM (#8920231)
        There were some archived posts to /. on this that I read recently. the upshot was that modern planes wouldn't suffer interference, but older planes would. The easier solution when dealing with the public at large was simply to ban all passengers from using them on all flights until the airlines could be sure none of the older planes was in use.

        Can't find the post. Maybe s/b else can.
      • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:3, Informative)

        by stephanruby (542433)
        Do cell phones actually interfere with airliners anyway?

        No, they interfere with cell towers, that's the problem. The plane is going so fast that the cell phone keeps on switching towers.

        • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:2, Informative)

          by goates (412876)
          You can also be in range of more than one or two towers at a time as well. Either way, the cell networks have trouble with it.

          goates
      • Interference? (Score:2, Informative)

        by bsd4me (759597)

        There was an article in IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org] about this a few years ago. I would post the results, but (1) I forget what the article said, and (b) I am lazy.

      • Re:Sky high rates? (Score:3, Informative)

        by sir_cello (634395)

        I wish I could remember the reference, but I read recently that supposedly the main issue with mobile phones on flights is the way they splatter themselves across cells on the ground. The article acknowledged that there have been many examples of people accidently leaving phones on during flights.

        Personally, I've left a GSM phone on during a flight once.

        Additionally, as an engineer, I would be _extremely_ suprised if the GSM standards bodies and the FCC/licensing authorities actually permitted the GSM tec
      • Of course I do recall that with my old Nextel (i700 plus -- that phone was a beast) I could tell when a call was incoming before the ringer went off because it would interfere with nearby speakers. I've never seen a cell phone other then that one (and I've used lots of different cell phones) interfere with anything though.

        My last phone, a Motorola T193 (the worst phone I've ever seen), would routinely interfere with my speakers. If I left it on my desk within a foot or two of the speakers I would get a b

      • When I was working in Europe last year, all the mobiles caused distortion in nearby equipment, monitors or speakers. Those were with new Nokia and Ericsson phones.

        However, I don't think it's something that shielding can't protect from. Otherwise I'm sure our PCs wouldn't have been very happy.
    • That probably puts paid to my question:

      Could one chase the off-peakedness across time-zones? :o)
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by xSquaredAdmin (725927) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:42PM (#8919932)
    We're supposed to turn off our cellphones on airplanes? Whoops.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by cmdr_beeftaco (562067) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:03PM (#8920238)
      I've used my cell phone on planes for years and have only been involved in one crash and it didn't really hurt as much as I expected. I would definitly not be interested in this service. Anyone know of amplifiers and/or high gain antennae that can get through security checkpoints?
  • I never turn it off (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jzuska (65827) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:43PM (#8919939) Homepage
    I never turn my mobile off. The phone just doenst work that high up, and I travel by air weekly. Never had any problems either.
    • by radish (98371)
      Please wear a badge so I can avoid going on a plane with you.

      Most of the civil aviation regulators of the world ban cellphones on flights, I really don't believe that they do so simply to make the network operators happy. There has been at least one crash (a CrossAir flight in Switzerland) which the official report blamed on a cellphone, and there is at least one post on this very thread from a pilot who says it is a real problem. But you know more than all of them right?
    • So you waste your batteries, don't use the phone, can't get service... But feel compelled to point out that you never turn it off? What good can that do?

      I'm personally not scared of mobiles on planes, but breaking the rules just because you feel like it doesn't really benefit anyone.
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:59PM (#8921035) Journal
      I never turn my mobile off. The phone just doenst work that high up
      Exactly, and even if your phone made the aircraft twitch, the pilot would just correct it as a matter of course.

      And then, just as the plane approaches for landing in a tricky crosswind, your phone comes within range of the radio tower, and starts receiving a bunch of SMS messages (the 'welcome to such-and-such network' ones, and yes, phones do transmit as well when receiving messages), and screws up the avionics. But now, there is very margin for error and that twitch might well cause a crash.

      Not following these safety regulations on aircraft is not only illegal, it's utterly stupid.
  • Too complicated (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zweistein_42 (753978) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:43PM (#8919940) Homepage
    Why not just use existing phones/ethernet jacks in Airplanes? I cannot see this much technology being any cheaper, so what is the point in using your own cell vs. built-in phones?
  • by Marxist Commentary (461279) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:44PM (#8919961) Homepage
    is simply a red herring. The airlines stand to make confiscatory profits from the seat-back phones, which charge upwards of $10/minute. Thus, there is no incentive for them to change. Why would this be adopted?
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:49PM (#8920039)
      Nope... there's two bans on phones in flight...

      - The FAA doesn't like them because of the longshot theory that radio waves of any kind might just add up to a signal that tricks autopilot or other navigational systems into glitching, causing the plane to crash. That's a long shot risk, but the disaster case is kinda a bad one if it ever happens.

      - The FCC also has a ban because when you're in flight, you're always at least 6-8 miles away from the nearest cell tower. You end up communicating with too many towers and bogging down the network. One or two such calls is tolerable, but a whole plane load moving through would disrupt the ground-based users of the network.

      This picocell concept solves both problems by moving the nearest cell tower to just a few feet away from the phone. Therefore, the phone kicks into its lowest power setting, and never talks to any other tower.
    • by LordDartan (8373) <dthiery&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:51PM (#8920062)
      I've been a pilot for 15 years now and I can tell you without a doubt that cellphones (and most any electronic device) can affect instruments in the airplane. Yes, in this day and age the chances of that have been reduced, but it can still happen.
    • Cell phones CAN cause problems with radar systems. However only in select spots (ie where yuo are in relation to the radar). Rather then say that yuo can use a cell phone anyplace on the plane other then this red circle, they just say no phones. Hell, you cant use a cell phone in the front section of the ferry boat I ride home each day because its under the radar dome.
    • Why would this be adopted?

      Probably because the airlines can still get a piece of the action with this scheme. They can do a deal with the phone companies to split an outrageously priced "roaming" fee for these calls. People would be much more likely to use their own phones than those crappy phones in the backs of seats. (I can't remember ever seeing anyone actually use one of those things.)

      Even if they only charged half or less of the unbelievable current air phone price, the total call volume would g

  • I can't tell you how nice it would be to have wifi on the plane...
  • Uh-oh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:44PM (#8919970) Homepage
    I'm not one of those virulent mobile phone haters (I use mine all the time), but imagining a long flight with a cabin full of people having inane conversations with their chums and having to yell over the engine noise... all 100+ of them... is my idea of a bad time.
    • by ArmenTanzarian (210418) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:52PM (#8920089) Homepage Journal
      There's always that one lady with the super high-pitched voice and horrible accent (I'm picturing Fran Drescher) who just has to talk about something horrifically mindless. She's been on planes before, but decorum was preserved by the fact that her friend fell asleep with all the other normal people. Now she can ring up her equally annoying family and drone on through every time zone, I can't wait...
    • Re:Uh-oh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:55PM (#8920135)
      The way I see it, if they can have their cell phones, then I should get my gun. Its a checks and ballances issue.
    • It is allready happening on the bus, on the train, in the subway and (god forbid) in the movie theatre. Expect planes to be infected soon.

      I recall a few months back, going to a movie (don't remember which one. It was supposed to be funny but apparently it didn't stick as such) and there was a couple in front of us with a 4 month old baby. Although I don't consider movie theartres an appropriate place for babies (mainly becasue of audio volume), the kid was adorable and slept the whole show through. When
    • Re:Uh-oh... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Minwee (522556)
      Having all 100+ conversations being "Hey, guess where I'm calling you from!" and "Can you hear me now?" would be even worse.
    • This is something I don't get. People don't get bent out of shape when you carry on a converstion with a live person in a restaurant, or a plane. But when you put that other person on a phone, it becomes offensive.

      What up with that?

  • by still cynical (17020) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:44PM (#8919972) Homepage
    Does anyone know where I could find some sort of evidence that there is a danger to begin with? Maybe then I'll stop believing that it's purely a matter of hoovering my wallet as completely as possible.
    • So you'd rather... (Score:5, Informative)

      by lxt (724570) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:46PM (#8919997) Journal
      ...a plane crashed to prove it?

      There's lots of evidence that phones can interfere with navigation equipment, and from my experience as an audio engineer I can tell you digital cell phones can very easily intefere with electrical equipment, disrupting signals etc.
      • One already did. A CrossAir flight in Switzerland went down a couple of years ago - the official report said a phone was a likely cause. Haven't got a link but I guess google will find one for you.
      • How many piecese of your equipment are RF shielded?
      • I live in an area with no coverage. When I get into coverage, my cell phone starts talking to the network and you hear various beeps etc come through the car audio system. This also happens when the phone acknowledges an incoming call. This still happens when there is a tape playing (ie radio off), which means that this signal is pretty huge.

        About ten years ago there way a posting on sci.electronics where a guy who is an EE and a private pilot claimed that he could set up his autopilot to steer towards a ra

    • by cheide (731641)
      There is certainly a potential for interference. Electromagnetic compatibility isn't always a straightforward matter; I briefly worked on a software tool to assist in compatibility testing and there are a *huge* number of ways signals from different components in an aircraft can combine and interfere with others. You can't just certify a range of frequencies as being okay and leave it at that, because it also depends on how the frequencies are generated inside the device, which may be different from devic
    • by kc8tbe (772879)
      The situation isn't really dangerous. In fact, HAM radio operators are allowed to use their radios during flight (just not during take off and landing). The problem isn't in interference with avionic equipment but rather, as has already been mentioned, in the cell network.

      Normally several adjacent towers pick up your signal, and then decide which one has the best signal quality. That tower then handles the signal. Remember, signal quality/strength is best with a line-of-sight to the cell tower. Well, on an
    • by jay2003 (668095)

      Most people don't understand the statistics involved when it comes to expected norms of commercial airplane safety. There are almost 10,000,000 commerical airplane flights a year so if unlimited cell phone crashed only 1 in 10,000,000 flights, one plane every year would be lost. Even if it's 1 in a 100,000,000, that's one plane every ten years. I just don't think it's a worth plane crash with potentially hundreds of passengers dead just so people can talk for cheap on their cell phones.

      Look here fo [boeing.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reliable independent comm in flight, and even internet connectivity, could be used to notify officials and the military if they're asleep on the job about a terrorist event.
  • Cell phones can tranceive at 0.1% their normal power level -- in addition to who knows how many times normal when in that highest-power mode? What, 1000x? That would be millionfold range. Is that true? Talk about planning ahead...
  • by Paul Crowley (837) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:47PM (#8920001) Homepage Journal
    I've been predicting picocells for a while. I think there will be a lot of them. A private owner (eg a shop or a bar) installs a picocell, hooks it up to their broadband connection, and gets some of the call revenue from the network provider in return for taking some of the weight off the towers. Battery life is improved, radiation reduced, and everyone wins. The cells units are small and cheapish, and when they fail you just send them back by post and get sent a replacement. You'll see them underground in metro stations, or at the backs of shops in buildings which block radio waves.
  • by sibdib (772980) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:47PM (#8920011)
    CDMA is both a mobile phone standard (IS-95) and a technology (Code Division Multiple Access) and if you're comparing "GSM" to "TDMA" to "CDMA" then you're refering to phone standards. CDMA the phone standard is junk, in all honesty, and is being phased out. The direct replacement for it is CDMA2000, which existing US IS-95 operators like Sprint PCS and Verizon are moving to.

    CDMA the technology is rather better and is being used in a number of newer systems. GSM "version 2" is called UMTS, and has a configurable air interface which can be GSM's Time Division Multiple Access, EDGE (a more modern and efficient Time Division MA system), or a variant of Code Division Multiple Access (ie the CDMA the technology, not CDMA the mobile phone standard) called WCDMA, depending on the operator's preferences.

    Only CDMA2000 is based upon CDMA the standard. UMTS is based upon GSM. TD-CDMA is a completely new system and isnt' based upon anything. It does use "CDMA the technology", but it certainly isn't related in any way, shape, or form to IS-95.
    • CDMA the phone standard is junk, in all honesty, and is being phased out. The direct replacement for it is CDMA2000, which existing US IS-95 operators like Sprint PCS and Verizon are moving to.

      I assume you are implying that the voice quality is junk. The cellular providers are under pressure to make a profit so that generally means they utilize lower bit-rate voice coders on their IS-95 networks (to get more users on a given bandwidth). cdma2000 uses the exact same voice coders (well there is a new on

      • I assume you are implying that the voice quality is junk.

        No, I said in my original comment that the standard is junk. The call quality is fine, it's approximately the same as EFR GSM. However, it's an absurdly basic, if not positively backward, system which is only slightly more capable than an AMPS phone with a built in pager and a modem.

        There's no position independence (your phone book will not work properly if you leave the region you set the numbers up in, for instance), there's no device independe

  • ...for some reason I just have this feeling this is going to be expensive...
  • Cost? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slykens (85844) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:48PM (#8920018)
    What kind of fees can we expect for this?

    Inside the US seat-back phone calls run $2-$3 per minute. I had to make a call over India from Lufthansa's satellite phone on Inmarsat's network at $10 per minute a few years ago. That was an expensive call.

    Roaming on a $10 per minute network certaintly would keep the chatter to a minimum for those who don't want to listen to people on mobile phones in airplanes. SMS, however, would be very cool and should be very quiet.
  • Shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:48PM (#8920020)
    What we do NOT need is 300 assholes all chatting away while in a confined space for 6 hours.

    The RULE on all airplane flights should be, "Sit down, don't smoke, don't talk, shut the fuck up and read a book because hundreds of strangers need to get along so be fucking polite, please." That should be written on every ticket.

    I can't stand how self-indulgent most people are, and how important they want to think they are, and can't go without a cell phone or a deep conversation about Cosmo magazine for a few hours. Grow the fuck up and learn to sit still and read something quietly on a place. Seriously.

    This is technology being used in a very BAD way IMO.

    • While I generally agree, I think random surfing on a high speed link (in cabin wifi) would be neat. It could also be quiet, as long as people don't enable VoIP applications while in the air. That would be a nightmare!
    • The RULE on all airplane flights should be, "Sit down, don't smoke, don't talk, shut the fuck up and read a book because hundreds of strangers need to get along so be fucking polite, please." That should be written on every ticket.

      I on the other hand... I have no objection to the person next to me talking on a mobile. Just so long as they are not talking to me. Not that i'm anti-social or anything, I've had the uncomfortable experence of someone trying to convert me to their religion.

      I can see where a
    • Exactly. If you're important enough to *need* your cellphone while on the plane, you're important enough to charter your own jet. Or at the very least be in business class with the business people who might understand.
    • A-frickin-MEN!

      People lately are letting their cell phones "ring" for 30 seconds or so. That's just waaaay too long.

      maybe they are just insecure about themselves. But I'm geting tired and am to the point of leaning over and speaking very loudly "EXcuse me...phone call for you!"

      I don't think I could take 40 phones going off at once in such a confined space. I know Lt. Cmdr. Data could discern all those tones, but could the phone owners?
      • If it takes someone 30-seconds to figure out how to answer their cell phone, I think that's nature telling them they are too stupid to own one. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. :(
    • I really wish they would look into other ways of fitting people in planes. I would love it if they could do it Japanese capsule hotel [japanvisitor.com] style (as long as each one is at least 6'5" long so I fit :-)

      That way each person would only annoy themselves. Or perhaps they need an assholes and non-asshole section like the smoking/non-smoking sections of yore.

    • I have these things I take on an airplane, called headphones. Perhaps you've heard of them?

      I find they do quite nicely at blocking out conversations, screaming babies, etc., while cocooning me in my own choice of music, not the crap the plane provides.

      Get yourself a nice pair of closed-ear or in-ear phones. (Sony EX71SL is good blocker of amient noise)

      They also work very well with this other thing I take on a plane, called an iPod.
  • by Dubber (101609) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:48PM (#8920027) Homepage
    (from the bottom of the article):"Connexion's pricing, announced late last month, puts unlimited Wi-Fi access at $29.95 for flights longer than six hours; $19.95 for flights between three and six hours; and $14.95 for flights less than three hours. Connectivity can be purchased on a metered basis for $9.95 for the first 30 minutes and 25 cents for each additional minute. Airlines are considering an option to pay for connectivity with frequent-flyer miles, Boeing has said."

    $20.00 / 6 hours = $3.33/hour
    or
    $30.00 / 6+ hours = ~$5.00/hour on East Coast US to Europe flights down to 1.50 an hour or so for those West Coast US to Australia flights.

    & I thought 24.95 for a day's access at a conference was exorbitant!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    just imaging trying to think with 200 stuttering zombies around you chatting about nothing

    The airplane is one of my last refuges, keep it sacred!!
  • FFS, minus the infrequent emergency use of cellphones on airplanes, please keep them out. All i need is that group of kids on my plane to be talking insanely loud to their friends on their cellphones. We've made out well without cellphones on airplanes for several decades of flying. we don't need them now.

    It's just a matter of time before the cellphone companies make cellphones somehow work on the subways. It's going to be so damn annoying the day that happens.

    • We also made out well without the internet for quite a while before the 1970's. I think we should get rid of that too. Also, things like computers, cars, telephones, and flush toilets. Why do we need all these new fangled things.
    • The airlines could test the markets... "cellular section" and a "no cellular section". Just like "wailing child section" and a "no wailing child section".

      Toddlers are the worst. Some f-ing numbnuts came up with the idea that they shouldn't have their own seat. Have you ever seen a person try to hold down a three year old during takeoff? Have you sat next to them? I mean, your ears six inches from the toddler's face? Being spat on and scratched as the toddler tries desparately to escape his mother's

  • Please see this movie for an approximation of what will happen if you use your cell phones during a flight.
    Look about 80 percent into the trailer. Beware, QuickTime required.
  • by Wiseazz (267052) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:54PM (#8920117)
    Seriously. I enjoy not being hassled by clients, etc. for those hours that I'm flying. I also like not having to listen to OTHER people gabbin' on the phone.

    Just relax... Read a book. Listen to some music (softly).

  • Picocell? Man, that's a stupid word. Some marketing droid decided that if the "nano-" prefix was hot, then "pico-" would be hotter.

    Hey, who wants to talk on my femto-phone?

    Douchebags.

  • What if didn't have to turn off your mobile phone when you travel by air?

    What if didn't have to reread submissions before posting to Slashdot?
  • Why can't I play my Game Boy Advance on take up on landing!

    Plus I don't want to hear people talking on the planes. The ones that do (on the tarmac) are VERY loud, annoying and very rude. Every single one of them yells into the phone so everybody knows half the conversations.

    Has anybody actually seen anybody use the phones in the airplane? I haven't, and I've been playing my whole life.
  • IM access (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deicide (195) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:21PM (#8920500)
    A United flight SFO-EWR flight I took a couple weeks ago allowed IM (AIM, MSN, ICQ and Y!) access for $5.99 for the duration of the flight. You connect your laptop to a phone line, dial up to any number and it connects. Their router then only allows IM traffic to the ground.

    Brilliant! Why would I need to use a phone with some rediculous per-minute charge if I can chat with 5 people at once while in the air without disturbing other passengers nonetheless..

    Email (POP3/SMTP) access was $20.
  • by sulli (195030) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:32PM (#8920645) Journal
    to tie down all those yakkers who won't shut up.

    Seriously. I use my phone and stuff, but can we have some peace and quiet anywhere these days?!

  • Trains, planes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbstone (457308) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @05:49PM (#8922528)
    Before you wish for cell phones on planes, take a train sometime.

    hi! guess what! my cell phone works on the train! but it never seems to work quite right unless i yell into it!!

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