Mobile Phone Use On Planes Could Be Reality Next Year

BBC News says that mobile phone use on planes within European airspace might be implemented next year. These wouldn't be United Flight 93-style grab-whatever-cell-tower-you-can calls, but GSM calls routed to a base station located on the plane, then bounced off a satellite down to switches on the ground. The service would, of course, cost more than normal. As you might expect, there are some concerns, according to British regulator Ofcom:

• A biggie is safety. There is evidence that "mobile phone signals skewed navigation bearing displays by up to five degrees."

• Another is fair business practice: "Ofcom said it would investigate and address any evidence of 'excessive charges and abuses of competition' if prices were set unfairly by airlines and mobile networks."

• The final concern is "passenger welfare." The story says that UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency are working to make sure passengers don't go postal on the businessman from Des Moines who's just got to talk golf at 30,000 feet. I can already picture Samuel Jackson grabbing a flight attendant to bitch about those mutha... well, you get the idea. [BBC News]