In-Flight Cell Coverage Gets Grounded

jet planeUpdate!!  If you are still hanging on to the sliver of hope for making cell phones calls while in-flight, you can let go now. We are sorry to update this post with the news that the FCC went official today with their intention to ground cellular activity for good. It’s really ashame that AirCell won’t be allowed to use the frequency spectrum that it already paid for. So it looks like even a successful European rollout won’t help AirCell, or you, make cell phone calls from airborne planes.

Yahoo! News reports that the tentative plan, by the FCC, to lift the ban on in-flight cell phone usage may be abandoned. Anonymous sources gave insight into FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s recommendation. The decision comes amid FAA investigations into whether cell phone signals interfere with navigation gear used by commercial jets and major concern over in-flight cell usage regards the broadcasting of the cell signal to hundreds of towers at once. This is a valid problem, as cruising at 35,000 feet gives the average cell phone incredible range.

To solve this problem, AirCell is planning to route the calls through a plane’s “pico cell” antenna. The company hopes to beam the cell phone calls to a specific tower, alleviating concerncs of widespread network congestion. However, even more concern was raised when CTIA, a wireless association, concluded that the pico cell still caused interference. This dealt a huge blow to AirCell, which has already acquired the frequency spectrum that is to be used to pico cell transmission. But all is not lost. A sucessfull European rollout could give the company new hope.

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