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Mobile phones tested inflight

Connexion by Boeing has concluded a week of demonstration flights in Europe that showed travelers how mobile telephony can be provided safely and conveniently for passengers in flight.
During flights aboard a Boeing 737-400 test and demonstration airplane, Connexion One, guests sampled roaming-enabled mobile phones to make and receive phone calls.

Chris Petersen, program manager for voice and cellular service at Connexion by Boeing commented: “We allowed our guests to make calls to the ground while we flew over international waters, and almost everyone’s first call was to their boss. Both callers and call recipients were equally excited and impressed by the voice quality and the reliability of the connection.”

The ability to make Global Standard for Mobile (GSM) and code-division multiple-access (CDMA) calls over Connexion by Boeing’s system was made possible through UTStarcom.  UTStarcom supplied its MovingMedia 2000 all-IP mobile network infrastructure equipment to Connexion by Boeing and also provided technical support on the ground for call switching and completion.

“Our MovingMedia 2000 product is one of the only all-IP mobile infrastructure solution on the market today, and is designed to provide significant operational cost savings to service providers as it does not require traditional TDM transmission backhaul,” said Jack Mar, president of the CDMA/GSM division at UTStarcom, Inc. “UTStarcom’s MovingMedia 2000 network solution is compact, uses IP transport technology and is capable of working over satellite transmission medium, making it an ideal solution to offer cellular service for passengers on commercial airlines.” 

Connexion by Boeing intends to enable mobile phone devices onboard commercial airplanes utilizing the existing broadband satellite link and make this available to its airline customers as early as 2006.  “Enabling mobile connectivity is a natural service evolution for our system, which currently allows passengers on more than 120 flights a day to use WiFi-enabled laptops to connect to what is important to them,” said David Friedman, Connexion by Boeing vice president of marketing and direct sales. “We plan to make it available to our airline customers should they want it, once discussions between regulatory authorities and airline customers worldwide have been concluded, and the industry has come to an agreement on how to implement it in practice.”