We love our Smartphone. Don’t we? And it’s sure to make us annoyed if someone asks us to switch it off, and that too, for a couple of hours! Well, and that’s precisely the airline staff asks us to do when we are onboard. Silly, as it may seem to you, but they have their reasons for it.
Making an in-flight voice calls using terrestrial cellular signals can obstruct the navigation and communications equipment of the plane, making it unsafe to fly. But, is there a solution to the problem? Yes. Airlines have already started to provide Wi-Fi so that you could not just use it to browse the internet but also make calls. The facility may be dependent on the class for domestic flights but could be available to all classes on long-distance international flights.
The internet being provided can also be utilized by passengers to access live TV channels, news, and other services. However, there are separate charges for the facility. The cost could be much higher as compared to the price of using the internet at home. But again, if you wish to use the internet when you’re flying thousands of miles above, the cost is bound to be higher. (No pun intended). You can either purchase it by redeeming your reward miles or simply use your credit card. However, you need to check if the Wi-Fi voice calls are allowed on the flight before you buy the ticket.
Apart from Wi-Fi, there is yet another option that has been figured out by a leading mobile network operator for the aviation industry. The technology is called Picocells, which enables the use of communication devices such as phone and tablets in places where cellular signals cannot be received from towers.
By installing a picocell site, up to 100 passengers can access their phones, which makes it ideal for a small-midsized aircraft. Moreover, the technology has been found to be safe as it does not interfere with terrestrial cell sites. The system performs like any other cellular network, which allows passengers to use their GSM phones. Once you enable roaming voice and data service on your phone, an active roaming agreement is established between your home carrier and the system’s provider. Your phone is now ready to be used for placing and receiving calls or using data services.
As more and more airline companies are implementing the latest technology to make onboard communication possible, the economies of scale would ensure that the facility is not just improved but also cost effective.
However, as using phones would become a common thing on flights, there is a possibility of passengers bellowing on their phones, and could end up disturbing fellow passengers. Well, it could lead to squabbles, and subsequently, turn into chaos. Business travelers specifically, who have been long advocating the use of phones onboard, must make sure that they are not invading the privacy and seclusion of their co-passengers.
In general, people should remember that being allowed to use phones and other communication devices on the flight does give them the advantage of being more productive. However, it should not come at the cost of being a distress to others.