“Flight mode” is set to become a thing of the past in Europe under plans to have airlines equip planes with 5G technology for all passengers.
Under the EU plan, passengers’ phones will be connected to masts on the ground during low-altitude flights, while airlines will be required to install a pico cell on board that acts as a booster to extend coverage when flying at a higher altitude.
“The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to the possibilities offered by high-speed, high-capacity connectivity,” EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said in his announcement.
Airlines have been allowed to offer wi-fi to passengers since 2008, but passengers are usually required to pay extra for internet access, and the service is usually only available on long-haul flights.
There are no known incidents caused by the use of a mobile phone in flights, but pilots do report hearing distracting sounds in their audio systems, such as the beeps heard when the phone rings next to the loudspeaker system.
While EU rules around frequencies may change, the airline industry is not set up to see it as an order of business.
The International Air Transport Association told The Telegraph it welcomes the EU’s move. The plan is to put telephone networks on 5GHz and more, while cockpit communications fall between 4.2-4.4GHz. She was reassured of the safety of the plan.