Airline passengers in the European Union (EU) will soon be able to use their phones without putting them in flight mode in the coming months. A new directive by the European Commission states that airlines can offer 5G mobile connectivity services along with slower mobile data on flights, and the passengers will no longer need to turn on airplane mode once they board the flight. As per reports, EU member states will have until June 30, 2023 to make 5G services available for airplanes.
A report by the BBC says, that the EU is paving the way for mobile connectivity in flights, and the passengers will be allowed to use their phones normally to make and receive calls and access internet services to watch videos, browse websites and send out text messages.
Currently, only functionalities like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are allowed on certain flights globally.
Why are phone calls restricted?
When smartphones are trying to connect or are connected to a mobile network, it can interfere with aircraft instructions and readings, due to which the passengers are asked to switch off their phones or keep them in flight mode.
Why is the EU making the new changes?
The EU Commission since 2008 has reserved certain frequency bands for aircrafts, which means that calls are less likely to interfere with the aircraft instructions. Hence the EU has given this directive to allow passengers to make calls.
This new frequency has allowed some flights to offer mid-air internet access but they were slow. Now the airlines will use special network equipment called 'pico-cell' which will route calls, messages and data through satellite networks which will connect the aircraft to the ground-based mobile network. With this new system passengers will be able to access 5G, which has speed around 100Mbps.
Is it recommended?
5G interference with the flight's navigation system has been a concern in the US. But, as this concern is not in the UK due to different frequency bands. But yet it may not be recommended. As in most cases, when your device is trying to connect with a mobile network it will use up more of your battery, so unless you have a power bank or the flights install infrastructure that will allow you to charge your smartphones, your phone may die down faster than it normally would.
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