Before boarding an airplane, travelers are instructed to turn off or put their phones in “airplane mode.” But that warning is about to expire. The European Commission will assign certain frequencies for the new 5G network so that handsets can stay connected while flying.
According to the European Commission, the judgement will effectively allow airlines to allow customers to make and receive phone calls, text messages, and use data in the same way that they would on the ground. The service will be provided by a picocell, which is a piece of specialized network hardware that connects the plane’s network to the ground through a satellite. According to Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market, the possibilities given by ultra-fast, high-capacity connectivity are no longer limited.
Airlines will be allowed to deliver the most modern 5G technology aboard their aircraft, according to the European Commission’s most recent update on in-flight communication, which demonstrates the designation of specific 5G frequencies for user communication.
Currently, laws require passengers to turn off or place their phones in airplane mode prior to takeoff and throughout the flight. The technique is a precautionary measure to avoid the aircraft’s electrical and communications systems from being disrupted. Only through an internal Wi-Fi network provided by the airline provider, often as a paid service, can wireless devices such as cellphones, tablets, and laptops access to the internet.
The European Commission will now allow the use of a specified frequency spectrum for 5G, ensuring that it does not interfere with any of the electrical equipment aboard the flight, allowing passengers to keep their smartphones turned on at all times. However, the network will only work in good weather and at low heights. Furthermore, if they believe it is necessary, the aircraft commander may issue an order to turn off phones at any time. 5G will offer cutting-edge services for people as well as growth opportunities for European enterprises, says Breton.
Wi-Fi with 5GHz frequency bands will be allowed to operate in autos, buses, and other modes of transportation, thanks to European Commission road transportation advancements. The organization indicated that the change will take effect at the latest on June 30, 2023.
Secure But Not Free
Although passengers will be permitted to use their phones on the plane, the service will be charged. Because the connection may necessitate connecting to networks in multiple countries, which results in roaming fees, cell phone carriers and airlines are likely to charge a premium. Furthermore, airlines will have to invest a significant amount of money on the technology required to connect terrestrial mobile networks to flying planes.
When the policy’s original implementation plans were made public, they drew criticism. The US Federal Communications Commission rejected plans to allow in-flight speech and data services using mobile wireless frequencies in 2020. The government highlighted strong opposition, particularly from airline pilots and flight attendants who raised safety and national security concerns.
Major American airlines issued a combined warning earlier this year to the White House and the key aviation regulatory authorities. They warned that turning on the 5G network near airports could jeopardize the safety of thousands of planes. The frequencies of the new networks may interfere with the frequency used by planes to measure their height, resulting in tragic incidents. As a result, several airlines, including Emirates, Air India, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Japan Airlines, have announced flight cancellations and changes to the United States.
In Europe, where there is less risk of interference and higher frequency margins, the situation is different. For more than two years, European government agencies and flight safety organizations have collaborated to avoid conflicts.