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How In-flight Mobile Phone Services Work

        Tech | WiFi & Mobile

Implementing In-flight Mobile Phone Services
Some airlines already allow passengers to check e-mail or surf the Internet while in air.
Some airlines already allow passengers to check e-mail or surf the Internet while in air.
Rob Melnychuk//Digital Vision/Getty Images

Air France started with a limited service trial in late 2007, allowing passengers to send and receive text messages and e-mails.

The airline planned to begin allowing voice calls within the first three months of 2008, but said it would regulate call makers "to maintain passengers' comfort and well-being," Network World reported.

Callers are allowed to use their phones only when the aircraft is 10,000 feet or higher off the ground.

Other airlines, especially those based in the United States, allow limited use of cell phones while on the ground. American Airlines and its subsidiaries, for example, allow use of cell phones during taxi-in, as signaled by an onboard announcement. Cell phone use is not allowed during flights, as doing so is against FCC rules.

However, several airlines are experimenting with a different cell-phone function -- using them as boarding passes. The International Air Transport Associations approved a method allowing airlines to send a barcode image to a passenger's cell phone in late 2007. The airline gate attendant can scan the image on the phone the same as one would scan a traditional paper board pass. With a projected 2010 start, advances such as these show that airlines and mobile phone technology will continue working together in the future [source: Into Mobile].

Along with such government rules, other issues, such as uncertain billing, customer service and service availability, keep airlines from providing full cell phone use onboard their aircraft in flight.

For lots more information about in-flight mobile phone service and related topics, check out the links on the next page.