Emirates to offer in-flight mobile phone service

AeroMobile signs deal with Emirates Airline to offer in-flight mobile phone service.

As one group abandons its in-flight Wi-Fi Internet access, another hopes to be more successful with an on-board mobile phone service for air passengers.

Emirates Airline has signed up for a new in-flight mobile phone service offered by AeroMobile, a joint venture between communications and systems engineering vendor Arinc and Norwegian telecommunications service provider Telenor, the companies said Friday.

The Dubai airline expects to launch the service on board one of its Boeing 777 airplanes early next year, provided it receives necessary approval.

AeroMobile joins OnAir, a joint in-flight mobile phone venture between European aircraft manufacturer Airbus SAS and SITA, a provider of air transport IT services. Last year British carrier BMI (formerly British Midland Airlines) and TAP-Air Portugal agreed to introduce OnAir's new in-flight voice and text messaging service on European flights after receiving approval.

Officials in Europe have signalled interest in allowing the use of in-flight mobile phones, while various agencies responsible for radio communications and airline safety in the U.S. continue to review the technology.

Numerous experts are concerned about the possible risk of wireless devices interfering with cockpit and ground-based communication systems.

Calls made with AeroMobile are beamed to the ground through Inmarsat's satellite communications systems, already installed on all Emirates aircraft.

All calls and text messages will be billed to users' regular phone bills, at rates comparable to international roaming rates.

The AeroMobile system allows cabin crew to control the system at all times. For example, the crew may disable voice service and select text only operation mode for night flights.

Features designed to protect the peace of passengers come in response to concerns voiced by numerous airline customers about being disturbed on long flights by other passengers making calls.

Later next year, Emirates and AeroMobile plan to add Internet access using GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which offer data speeds of around 50K bps (bits per second). The service will support the use of BlackBerry and Palm Treo devices, in addition to mobile data-enabled PDAs (personal digital assistants) and notebooks.

Whether the data service, not to mention the voice service, will ever take off remains to be seen.

The Emirates-AeroMobile deal comes as The Boeing Co. phases out Connexion by Boeing, an in-flight service that delivered Internet access using a combination of satellite transmission and Wi-Fi.

In August, Boeing announced its plans to phase out Connexion after failing to find a buyer.

Connexion was rolled out on some flights in Europe and Asia but was never adopted by a major U.S. carrier. First conceived in 2000, the service was approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in May 2002 as the nation's airlines were reeling from a travel slump that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Blau

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?