PASSENGERS onboard commercial airlines will be able to use their own mobile phones while in flight in the near future, according to Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm.
Onboard base stations hold substantial revenue potential for mobile network providers and airlines. “We expect the total volume of fees for mobile telephony during flights to reach two billion Euros ($2.56 billion) in Europe alone by 2010,” said Booz Allen principal Dr Uwe Lambrette.
This advancement in technology will have a significant effect on Middle East business. “The Middle East in general and hubs such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jeddah and Riyadh in specific are witnessing increasing traffic year-on-year so in-flight mobile telephony will certainly have an impact on the region,” said Karim Sabbagh, vice-president Booz Allen Hamilton. “If you combine that with the fact that mobile phone penetration is advancing rapidly in our region you can see why something such as onboard base stations would be of considerable importance.”
Mobile telephony is currently banned onboard commercial flights because of its potential to disturb an airplane's sensitive electronic systems. Today, mobile handsets emit high-powered signals when searching for an available base station for incoming and outgoing calls. Those high-powered signals can cause interference with an aircraft's electronic circuitry, especially when it is out of reach of a base station.