Connexion, OnAir to offer in-flight cellular service

Boeing's Connexion and Airbus' OnAir are partnering with other companies to offer in-flight GSM and CDMA device usage. Connexion is working with Qualcomm, and the two companies have been testing cabin-fitted GSM and CDMA 2000 base stations with beam calls from the aircraft to the ground via satellite (the test base-stations are provided by UTStarcom). OnAir is working with software company TriaGnoSys and server maker Miltope to build a similar system, if currently only for GSM. OnAir will use compact base stations from Siemens.

Connexion and OnAir have accelerated their efforts to offer in-flight cell phone service in anticipation that regulators in the US and Europe will soon lift the ban on such calls. We should note that while communication regulators such as the FCC may lift the ban, transportation regulators such as the FAA may well not do so. OnAir's system would support up to 200 users simultaneously making phone calls, sending text messages, or surfing the web. Miltope's server ties in the Siemens GSM base station with the WLAN AP.

For more on the soon-to-come on-air cellular service:
- see the websites of OnAir | Connexion
- and Tony Smith's TheRegister report

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