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Phone Use on Planes Ready for Take-Off with GSM on-BOARD

The head of OnAir today predicted that use of mobile phones on planes would mean at least twenty times the number of calls presently being made per flight using existing in-seat telephones.
OnAir CEO, George Cooper, speaking today at the IPEC* Conference, said that for ease and convenience mobile phones were far superior to existing aircraft phones which were unfamiliar devices to many, capable of making outgoing calls only and, in addition to a set-up charge, cost $3 to $10 per minute. He noted that current use of in-seat aircraft telephony is less than one call per flight.

“By contrast, mobile phone users will be able to use their personal devices for both outgoing and incoming calls and text messaging; and they will be able to pay through a regular mobile operator with invoicing based on Êinternational roaming rates,” the OnAir CEO stated.

“It’s not about technology. It’s about what people need and are prepared to pay for and integrating elements of both aviation and telecoms into one solution,” said Cooper.

He said there were two key challenges for OnAir as it moves towards its goal of providing passengers with economic choices in the use voice and data communications on both Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

These were adapting existing technology to the airborne environment and the creation of an international framework for the operation of a mobile network in an aircraft as current regulations are only designed for ground networks.


Cooper said that OnAir estimates the addressable market for onboard GSM on both long and short haul flights will be over 700 million passengers by 2009 and that the value for onboard communications will be $1.6 billion for voice and $400 million for data.Ê OnAir aims to provide mobile telephony on European flights in 2006.