International Passengers Want Mobile Phones

14th Sep 2004

Nearly half of all
international business fliers would prefer to travel on airlines that
allow the use of mobile phones in flight. That is the emphatic conclusion
from a survey of 1,200 international business and leisure travelers at two
of the world’s busiest airports—London Heathrow and Gatwick. The
research was conducted for Telenor and ARINC Incorporated.The companies are marketing an inflight GSM mobile phone service for
passengers—ARINC-Telenor Mobile Connectivity(TM). They plan to
demonstrate their system at the World Airline Entertainment Association
(WAEA) in Seattle, WA, Sept. 21-24.

“Our research shows a pent-up passenger demand for in-flight mobile
service,” stated Graham Lake, ARINC Vice President and Managing Director,
Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Fully 83% of business fliers now carry
their mobile phones in flight, while about half carry a laptop computer.
The world today has more than 1.5 billion mobile phone subscribers, with
almost 75% using GSM technology.”

Many planes could be readily equipped with the ARINC-Telenor service
because more than 1,900 already have the classic Inmarsat hardware needed.
ARINC and Telenor are offering airlines a comprehensive, one-stop
implementation package.

The technology allows passengers to use personal GSM mobile phones in
flight just as on the ground—and without any enrollments, sign-ups,
credit cards, or dialing of extra digits. The system treats the world’s
airspace just like calling another country. Passengers are charged a
reasonable fee, similar to international roaming rates on the ground.
Calls are transparently billed to passengers’ mobile accounts by their own
cellular providers.

“Passengers can roam onto this system as easily as visiting a new country.
They can make calls, accept incoming calls, and send or receive text
messages,” said Berit Svendsen, chief technical officer for Telenor.
“Close to a third of business passengers found this concept very
appealing, and as much as 28% of all passengers were willing to pay as
much as three to six dollars per minute for inflight mobile service. More
than half of all respondents would send and receive text messages as well.”


The research was conducted in June-July 2004 by IMDC (Inflight Management
Development Centre), an independent UK-based company that specializes in
management support services for the in-flight business sector).


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