Europe To Allow In-Flight 5G Cell Service


The European Union says it will allow airline passengers to use their 5G cellphones in flight, but it hasn’t set a timeline for the rollout. The EU has assigned frequencies it says won’t interfere with communications and avionics for cellphones meaning passengers will be free to use their phones as usual on most flights. “5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies. The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, told European media.

At lower altitudes, passengers will connect to the regular network and be able to use 4G and 5G services. For higher altitudes (specifics were not included in the release) airlines will be able to set up local networks on their aircraft called pico cells that will gather and relay the 5G data to ground stations. Pico cells will operate on frequencies of 5 GHz and higher while aircraft equipment will be at 4.2-4.4 GHz. The 5 GHz frequencies will be available for ground vehicles by summer but it’s not clear when airlines will have access to them.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Wonderful. Now the fat person sitting next to me taking up half of MY seat will by yakking away for hours and driving me insane. Somewhere in the cosmos, Steve Jobs is looking down and laughing at what he did to humanity.

    • You’re still seeing people talk on their phones?

      I barely scratch one cell phone call a week and it’s very rare for me to see another on an actual cell “phone call”.

      The only exceptions to this rule is the telemarketers and the crazy person in the parking lot taking a call via Bluetooth in their car. Volume turned all the way up to 11 for all the world to hear.

  2. Steve jobs really?

    I think you need to go a little bit before Steve Jobs was even involved in computers and phones to around April 1973 and lay the blame squarely on Marty Cooper and Motorola.

    • I thought of saying that but it wasn’t until the smart phone was built and became universal (just look at the butt bulges walking around) that it became ubiquitous. I doubt if there are any Motorola ‘brick’ 5G phones around.

      • You musta missed out on the Motorola startac and Nokia candy bars.

        The Nokias were so universal, they spring up an entire industry of case modifications and hacks. Couldn’t walk in to a mall without seeing a Nokia accessory booth.

  3. I still have some of my 20 and 30 plus year old Motorola phones from my days at Moto RF in Phoenix. They are great for showing to the younger kids, watching them try to figure out how to work the interface if fun.

  4. I collect old Motorola and other Mfg two way radios and early cell Phones so some of these old beasts are still around and still in good condition.

    I also have several of the first Wulfsberg RT18 series 453/458 MHz airborne Flight-phones for buiz jets and such all from the early to mid 1980’s and all of them came from my 20+ years at Wulfsberg in Arizona.

    These beasts are of course not even close to being carry around phones but they worked fine in their days and are also great to show off to younger engineers.