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.