3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) communications may be used above an altitude of 3000 metres

LONDON ( MEDIA)

The European Commission has adopted new rules that will allow the use of 3G and 4G mobile devices on board aircraft flying over the European Union. This means that from now on, spectrum for 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) communications may be used above an altitude of 3000 metres. Until now only 2G (GSM) was allowed on-board aircraft flying in the EU.

It remains up to the airlines to facilitate these services, by equipping their planes with on-board systems. These create a mobile network on the plane, using satellite backhaul to a ground station. Users then roam on the on-board network with billing by their usual operator. The EC said over 200 aircraft flying to the EU are already equipped to support the 2G services.

In a separate decision, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) is expected to issue guidelines for airlines by the end of November on the use of electronic devices on-board planes. This will extend to all phases of flight the possibility to use electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, e-readers and MP3 players as long as the devices are in ‘Flight Mode’ or ‘Airplane Mode’. Current EASA guidance allows the use of the devices only during flight and not during taxiing, take-off and landing.

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