OnAir Backs FCC Proposal To End US Ban On Inflight Cell Phone Use


Geneva, Switzerland | November 22, 2013–

OnAir totally supports the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its move to end the ban on the use of cell phones on aircraft. Mobile OnAir, OnAir’s inflight mobile phone service, has flown with more than 55 airlines on thousands of flights across the world since 2007, with the full backing of over 100 national authorities. There has not been a single complaint about disruption caused by people making calls.

The Tentative Agenda for the FCC meeting on December 12 2013 includes an item that will address the use of mobile communications on commercial aircraft. Should this be passed, the next stage will be a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), opening the way for repeal of the current ban with authority to use frequencies on a secondary, non-interference basis, over all U.S. and international mobile communications bands. As well as the mutual recognition of systems operating on foreign-flagged aircraft meeting equivalent technical standards. Providing for the licensed use of cell phones on aircraft will in turn increase global consumer choice for inflight broadband connectivity.

The FCC’s intention is very clear: give consumers access to inflight cell phone services by revising outdated and restrictive rules.

“Think about how you use your cell phone every day – email, text messages, updating social media, reading newspapers and magazines, as well as answering calls and phoning people. It is important to recognise that the voice element is just another app,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “It is no surprise that inflight usage mirrors terrestrial usage. And because it is so simple – just turn on your phone and use it – around 80 per cent of passengers choose the GSM network when both GSM and Wi-Fi are available.”

“Forget the hyperbole about the chaos inflight cell phone usage could cause,” continued Dawkins. “The issue simply hasn’t arisen anywhere in the world in the past six years. An aircraft is a noisy environment, so the sound of a conversation doesn’t carry very far. Flight attendants can also control the use of Mobile OnAir by disabling the voice element during quiet times, such as the plane’s night. Passengers can still use data – email and text messages, for example – but cannot make or receive calls.”

OnAir’s airline customers which provide Mobile OnAir include world–leading global airlines such as Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. Passengers typically use Mobile OnAir for data – largely email – and to update Facebook and Twitter. Voice calls account for slightly over 10% of total inflight usage.

OnAir has over 55 customers, including 18 airlines, around the world. Its technology has been tested rigorously and we have regulatory approvals from approaching 100 national and supranational regulators, including the European Aviation Safety Authority, as well as more than 350 roaming agreements with mobile network operators. It is safe to use cell phones on equipped aircraft and people want the choice of being able to do so.


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