Clearing the path for airline passengers to make cell phone calls has been finally achieved with Vodafone and Orange agreeing to open their networks to the OnAir roaming system. The two operators join T-Mobile and O2 in allowing their customers to use the service.
However, the OnAir service is only available on a few aircraft in Europe and calls cost nearly €3 per minute, although the company claims that the number of airlines supporting the system will grow rapidly and charges will be clearly displayed. The operators have also stated that they will send a text message to passengers to tell them that they can use the system and how much it will cost.
According to Benoît Debains, chief executive of OnAir, the highest volume of traffic is text and BlackBerry messages, but voice calls rise depending on the destination. The number of people using the system rises after one hour because passengers on short flights will wait until they land to call or send texts.
Debains defended the most common worry about in-flight calls in that they might disturb passengers. He claimed that of the 15,000 flights where the service had been available no complaints had been made as most passengers used their phones sparingly.
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