On MSNBC.com, Adam Hunter sounds the alarm again that cellphone use may soon be permitted in flight within the United States. It’s still up to two separate federal agencies — the FAA and the FCC — to come to agreement before cellphone users can burn through their minutes.

Phones have been on board for years, most commonly the Verizon Airfones that are installed in the backs of seats. The cost of making a call has been a deterrent, even when subscribers to a company cellphone plan get a discount.

I certainly sympathize with Hunter’s fear that we’ll soon be hearing more annoying chatter in the cabin. The poll associated with his article, while unscientific, shows that most people agree that cellphones are unwelcome inside aluminum tubes that hurtle through the air at over 500 mph.

But even if normal land-based cellphones are not approved (which I bet WILL happen), wi-fi in flight IS increasingly a reality. Several international carriers have installed Connexion by Boeing on their planes, which allows passengers to purchase high-speed wireless internet access for the duration of their flight. The planes are equipped with a wireless hub and a satellite connection.

Already today, a passenger flying, say, Asiana Airlines from Seoul to Seattle could buy a day pass for “Asiana Airnet,” then plug in a headset, fire up Skype or Net2Phone or any other VoIP service, and start making calls. Perfectly legally.

The next logical step is wi-fi enabled phones on board. In fact, they’re already being tested.

Granted, these are both currently more cumbersome than just dialing your existing cellphone, but the technology is here. Cellphones may be prohibited, but VoIP in the sky is coming.

pixel No to cellphones, yes to VoIP in the sky?

5 Responses to “No to cellphones, yes to VoIP in the sky?”

  1. Anna Sibal Says:

    I guess it’s true what they say, that what is good for one may not be good for the other. True enough that the coming of VoIP in the sky is inevitable and would be an added breath of convenience to business travelers who prefer to get some work done even while they’re on board an aircraft. The added noise and chatter it would bring, however, won’t be a good thing.

  2. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » Secrets of inflight cellphone use — revealed! Says:

    [...] I have always gone along with the directive, shutting everything down, even though I thought it was probably overblown. The cynic in me assumed that this was a way for the airlines to get you to use the Verizon Airfone in the seatback (or the inflight wi-fi). After all, how could a laptop or PDA bring down a Boeing? And if the electronics are THAT sensitive, wouldn’t there be risk for the duration of the flight, and not just during the climb and descent? But this bit in the article gives pause: Granger Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy Department, said the activity recorded shows that the use of electronic devices should be limited on airplanes. Morgan said the disruptions are enough to impact a plane’s navigation or other systems. [...]

  3. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » 7947 travelers can’t be wrong Says:

    [...] The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) rehashes the recent report that cellphones cause interference to aircraft navigation instruments. (previously discussed here and here) [...]

  4. vic Says:

    Good news for those that spend a bulk of their time traveling and in the air for work. For the traveling businessman, they can finally get VoIP on trains, cars (a major car rental company is making their cars ‘hotspots’), and now planes. Yay!

  5. john Says:

    That would be cool if people can use their cells on the flight. Or use Voip, but will the agencies allow it? Probably not and the costs will be really high at first.

Leave a Reply