Ofcom clears mobiles on planes

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator has confirmed that it will allow airlines to use the radio frequencies to enable them to offer onboard mobile services.However the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency also need to approve these systems before they can be launched. It will be up to airlines to decide whether they will offer these services to passengers and when.

Technology companies have developed systems that can be used in planes without interfering with the aircraft’s navigation systems or with the mobile phone networks on the ground. New equipment has to be installed on each aircraft to make this work safely. Ofcom and other European regulators have been working to establish the technical rules which will ensure there is no harmful interference.

Ofcom understands that billing will be through your network operator using roaming agreements similar to those when you go abroad.

Ofcom cannot predict how much calls will cost and it is up to the service providers to set the call charges. However they expect that the prices for these services may be higher than those charged for regular mobile phone calls because of the various connection arrangements between companies to allow calls to be made and received.

Ofcom will encourage the mobile network operators and on-board service providers to advertise the call charges to passengers if they decide to offer these services.