More data freedom above the clouds

More data freedom above the clouds

In the coming months, you can look forward to longer offline usage times and better network connectivity, since the once feared disruptions to the onboard electronics have not been proven to exist.

Currently, the U.S. Federal communications commission (FCC) seems to be leading the way. The authority has proposed to allow mobile phone use on board the aircraft. What many people don’t know: in the rest of the world, and thus also in germany, this has been allowed for a long time, but it usually doesn’t work because of the lack of reception possibilities above the clouds. The FCC’s more far-reaching proposal to also allow voice telephony has met with rejection, at least from the german airlines.

Mobile telephony has been prohibited on board lufthansa and air berlin until now, and this is not likely to change any time soon, as both companies report. While air berlin would not comment on its further plans, lufthansa is clearly on course for more internet and no phone calls. "We know that the vast majority of passengers feel disturbed by phone calls," says reinhold huber, lufthansa’s product and marketing manager.

At the same time lufthansa is making strong efforts to offer their guests access to the internet during the flight, where they should be able to work, but also not to make phone calls via skype or other services. Most of the long-haul crane planes, for example, have an on-board W-LAN provided by deutsche telekom for a fee, but only a few planes have their own mobile radio connections so far. The company has already announced further expansion of both technologies. And those who absolutely have to make a phone call are referred to the on-board satellite telephones. There, the price per minute of 9.95 U.S. Dollars (7.30 euros) is already limiting demand.

In the ICE trains of the german railroads, they have been using phone-free zones for several years, which are easier to separate in the car than in an airplane. Just under one-third of the ICE seats on offer are in these quiet zones, according to a deutsche bahn spokesman in berlin. Technically, the use of stor transmitters is dispensed with and passengers are expected to show mutual consideration. Train attendants were also instructed to ask loudly phoning travelers to enter the cell phone zones. There, additional repeaters provide a technically better connection to the mobile radio networks.

Anyone wishing to use the more convenient W-LAN on the train has to pay a fee to the monopoly provider deutsche telekom, as on the lufthansa jet, or log in with their existing contract. There are currently no plans for a free service such as that offered by competing long-distance buses, according to the railroad headquarters. By the end of 2014, the aim is to have completed the supply of the ICE core network with telecom hotspots.

In air travel, efforts are underway in the U.S. And also in europe to allow offline use of the devices for the entire travel time "from gate to gate. Until now, aircraft had to be switched off completely during taxiing time and takeoffs and landings – probably one of the most frequently disregarded regulations in air traffic. The european aviation safety agency (easa) in poland has announced its intention to follow the relaxation already introduced in the u.S. By allowing tablets, smartphones and other devices to remain switched on at all times when in flight mode. "We want to implement this as early as possible at the turn of the year," said a lufthansa spokesman on monday.