August 7, 2006 6:51 AM PDT

Airlines to replace 'no smoking' with 'no mobile'

"No mobile" signs are to replace the outdated "no smoking" signs above airline seats with the introduction of in-flight mobile phone services in Europe next year.

Air France will be the first airline to try out the satellite-based technology early next year, followed by the U.K.'s BMI and Portugal's TAP.

The technology, developed by Airbus and SITA joint venture OnAir, will allow passengers to make in-flight mobile calls and send text messages on short-haul flights across Europe at a cost of around $2.50 per minute.

The overhead "no mobile" signs will be retrofitted to old aircraft and fitted to new Airbus planes coming off the production line, which will be used by airlines to provide the in-flight mobile phone service.

The illuminated "no smoking" signs have now become outdated since almost universal bans on lighting up on scheduled passenger planes were introduced in the late 1990s.

The "no mobile" sign will show a mobile phone crossed out and will be illuminated during takeoff until the plane has reached a certain altitude in order to ensure there is no interference with mobile networks on the ground.

"After takeoff, an announcement will be made that passengers are allowed to use their mobile phones. At this point the 'no mobile' sign will be turned off," a spokesman for OnAir told Silicon.com.

The new signs are currently only applicable to Airbus aircraft. But OnAir said it hopes to have them on Boeing planes as well if the in-flight mobile service is extended to its aircraft in the future.

Boeing last month warned the financial markets it may take a $315 million hit on the sale or closure of its own troubled in-flight broadband technology operation, Connexion, which has struggled to take off.

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

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20 comments

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SWEET!
That means we can start smoking on the plane again!!!
Posted by whargoul (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
complete the analogy
If the airlines are going to replace the no smoking signs with no mobile signs, when will they create no mobile seating sections? Having hours of self absorbed yammer in the next door seat would be cruel and unusuable punishment.
Posted by turingtest (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
no problem
I am guessing that sitting next to someone chatting on their cellphone is not going to be a problem at $150/hour.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Link Flag
complete the analogy
If the airlines are going to replace the no smoking signs with no mobile signs, when will they create no mobile seating sections? Having hours of self absorbed yammer in the next door seat would be cruel and unusual punishment.
Posted by turingtest (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But wait!
I thought you couldn't use wireless devices at all in any plane ever because it would cause the plane to immediate spiral into the ground! So all this about mobile phones interfering with aircraft instrumentation is a bunch of hooey? Who would ever have guessed that?
Posted by MrNougat (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes and No
Ive been on planes for domestic flights and have left my cell phone
on (accidently) and got a text message during the flight and
recieved a call but obviously didnt talk because that would be
noticable, and as far as i am concerned there were no problems
with the cockpit radios. The only reason they say you cant is
because no one has decided to test the fact that they can use them
because it would be too much of a hassel for the airlines to cancel
flights in the area to test it. So its easier for the airlinees to just say
you cant use them.
Posted by iburkhart13 (4 comments )
Link Flag
$2.50/minute is too expensive
It won't be much more useful than the back-of-the-seat Airfones at that price.

The OnAir press releases talk about being able to browse the web and access corporate networks through their service, but realistically, who is going to do that at $2.50/minute, except in dire emergencies?

$2.50/minute is $150 per hour!

If they asked me for $5 or $10 for unlimited access to the Internet (and it worked at a reasonable speed), I might be inclined to use it to pass the boredom, but not at $150/hour.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow! You're cheap.
The price you cited would be less than using Tmobile Hotspot
without a monthly contract on the ground. Ditto for the rates WiFi
providers charge at hotels.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
Re: $2.50/Minute is too expensive
You're darned right it's too expensive. Way too expensive.

I'm all for companies making a fair profit, but this is ridiculous.
Nowadays it seems like most companies are out to pick your
pockets for every last cent they can...

Like you, I might consider $10 - $15 for the entire flight, but
that's about it.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
2.50/min? PERFECT!
$2.50 a minute is perfect to keep the "yappers" quiet. No one wants to sit next to someone completing business, or worse yet, talking about their awful hotel experience they had the night before. We seem to have forgotten etiquette with our cell phones and keeping conversations limited to a minimum in close quartered areas.
Posted by michaelw623 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Dotso.com had an article on this ...
Dotso.com linked to an article on this yesterday. Can't recall if it was in the News section or the Tech section though ...
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please, don't
I can see it now. Ten years from now, sitting next to some yapper on an entire four hour flight. Now they just need to improve the technology of noise-cancelling headphones.

If you can't stand the 4 hour flight because you can't have your cell phone (and yes, those people are out there because no one would be doing this unless there was a market for it), then take a bus, train, or drive the 30 hour trip.

Be thankful you got from Atlanta to LA in 4 hours. Believe me, no one is "not flying" because it is too boring, but because plane tickets usually cost 1% of the average person's income income to travel on one day single day.
Posted by BoilerTipp87 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Take the train to Europe?
From the US? That's going to be a bit wet, won't it?
Posted by herby67 (144 comments )
Link Flag
oh no...
I'm all for having the internet and being able to communicate while flying...after all a lot of people that do fly on a regular basis are in business related trips....but i have to say that on those international flights of 10 - 11 hours, having someone sitting next to you or in front of you talking on their cell throughout the flight will get frustrating. As we all know there are those people who when talking on the cell you can hear from 1/2 a block away...now imagine that on a flight...after 8.5 hours... that could be dangerous...what's to say that someone with a short fuse won't go crazy and try to get the mobile phone away from the person who is on the call. Besides if you are going to pay $2.50 a min why not just use the sky phone say what u need to say and do it that way. As a person who flights on those international flights this will be a deciding factor for me on which companies not to fly with. I agree with the other person who said if u really need to stay in contact then find alternate ways of travel...
Posted by danidani81 (3 comments )
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