June 13, 2005 12:16 PM PDT

Ericsson touts cell network for planes

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Amid growing interest in relaxing the ban on cell phone use on airplanes, Ericsson said Monday that it has created a mini cell phone network for commercial aircraft.

The gear, also meant for use on ships at sea, is a much slimmer version of Ericsson's RBS 2000, the wireless giant's most popular lineup of cell phone network base stations. Ericsson says the new network can accommodate as many as 60 people at a time using GSM, the world's most popular cell phone standard.

Ericsson joins the cottage industry that has begun supplying air travelers with wireless services ranging from phone calls to the high-speed Wi-Fi wireless access provided by Connexion, a division of airplane maker Boeing, which has installed its gear in about 60 planes.

As shown by the flurry of comments filed recently with the Federal Communications Commission, there is a consensus building to relax rules that, since 1991, have banned cell phone use on U.S. commercial flights. Most observers say it is almost certain that the rules will be relaxed, though it is not yet clear by how much.

Such rule changes aren't expected until December 2006 at the earliest, however, and they likely won't be made until early 2007. The Federal Aviation Administration, which has the ultimate say on the matter, is waiting for the second phase of a study being conducted by an advisory agency, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. The private, nonprofit company was organized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The second phase of the RTCA report, to include its recommendations on in-flight cell phone use, is due by December 2006.

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Why in God's name?
It's not bad enough that we have to deal with arrogant cellphone usage in every day life. Now along with the zero-legroom seats and lousy airline food and service, we're going to have to put up with the same people yakking on cellphones in aircraft? This simple act will raise the level of air rage. The first person who gets their cellphone out on a transatlantic flight next to me will regret it. Nobody is that important that they need to have a cellphone, let alone use one when flying.
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i agree
the world has survived this long without cell phones in the air. there's no reason we need them now. this is going to cause more problems than it will solve. who the hell needs another constant yakker on the plane while everyone's trying to take a nap?

this brings up another issue. how clear do they think it will sound with the plane engines droning in the background? i have to turn up the volume in my earphones just to hear the music when i'm on a plane. how would you be able to hear the voice on the other end of a cell phone?

all in all a stupid idea. if cell phones become regularly used on airplanes, i bet there will be a lot of people who will actively avoid airlines that allow cell phone usage.
Posted by bob blob (118 comments )
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