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Europe gives thumbs up to mobiles on aircraft

The European Commission has given formal approval to the use of mobile phones on aircraft flying in European airspace.

This follows six months of consultation by the European regulator and the first service could launch later this year.

Three weeks ago UK telecoms regulator Ofcom announced it would allow airlines to offer mobile phone connections on board.

EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said: “One regulatory decision for all European airspace was required for this service to come into being.”

She said the price would be capped for people making calls from the ground and those calling from the air should not be over charged either.

“We expect operators to be transparent and innovative in their price offerings. If consumers receive shock phone bills, the service will not take off,” she added.

Phones will have to be switched off on take off and landing, with usage above 3,000 metres. Air France is already trialling the service on some routes, while Ryanair and British Midland are expected to offer services later this year.

The European Aviation Safety Agency still needs to approve any hardware that would be installed on aircraft to ensure it does not interfere with other systems.

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