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Communications Hardware Technology

Cell SMS in Planes on Trial Down-Under 116

jetkins writes "Just days after the FCC announced that the use of cellular phones would be officially banned onboard aircraft in the USA, ZDNet reports that Australian airline Qantas is to undertake a three-month trail of a new in-flight cellular service. Initially installed on a single aircraft, the system utilizes technology from British company Aeromobile, providing a miniature GSM 'tower' within the aircraft cabin. Since GSM phones dynamically adjust their transmit power, being in such close proximity to the tower means that phones will emit only minimal RF. The system operates as a separate 'country', meaning phones must be enabled for international roaming and calls are charged at international roaming rates. During the trial at least, only SMS, MMS, and GPRS (data) traffic will be allowed; voice calls will be blocked."
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Cell SMS in Planes on Trial Down-Under

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  • Re:FCC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Friday April 20, 2007 @10:50AM (#18811645) Homepage Journal
    If I remember correctly, the FCC and FAA have both banned it for different reasons. FCC banned it because they are concerned about how it will affect cell towers on the ground. FAA banned it because they are concerned about interference with airplane electronics. To my knowledge neither of them are saying it's definitively a problem, just that it could be and that they don't want to take the risk.
  • Mythbusters. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Rukie ( 930506 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @10:53AM (#18811691) Homepage Journal
    Uhm, as I recall on the Mythbusters show, cell phones WILL interfere if there is no shielding, but because everything is shielded there is no effect. (Right?)
  • Re:FCC? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ptbarnett ( 159784 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:51AM (#18812461)
    And when are these asshats going to learn that cell phones do not interfere with flight controls? You'd figure at least one of them had to watch that MythBusters episode.

    Mythbusters is an entertaining show, but their methodologies aren't exactly rigorous.

    Consumer RF devices vary widely in their behavior. Any testing effort would have to include a large sampling of what is available (and/or still in use). All it takes is one harmonic that collides with the navigation receiver's tuned frequency. It doesn't even have to be very strong.

    A pico-cell in the interior of a plane is a good remedy, as it can tell phones to keep their effective radiated power as low as possible. But in the US, I don't think it's an option until the equipment is built and certified for use in the aircraft.

  • Re:FCC? (Score:2, Informative)

    by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:55AM (#18812535)
    Except if you live in a town serviced by one airline. If I want to fly anywhere without first driving two-and-a-half hours my first flight of the trip is guaranteed to be American Eagle to the airport I would be driving to. It isn't until I get to the hub that I'm free to choose a different airline.

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