Opinion: End of the plane phone era ahead?

Occasionally, I’m stopped by someone who says the new rule for using cell phones on flights is not working because their flight is over the Atlantic. Because there are no cell phone towers in…

Opinion: End of the plane phone era ahead?

Occasionally, I’m stopped by someone who says the new rule for using cell phones on flights is not working because their flight is over the Atlantic. Because there are no cell phone towers in the Atlantic, they’re forced to fall back on what they have and their internet is slower. However, just like in other parts of the world, Europeans are increasingly abandoning landlines for cell phones as they want to keep in touch when flights are delayed or canceled.

Part of the idea for airline wifi is that businesses who supply commercial airlines with equipment will make money by renting people time to return their equipment to business centers. Airlines are now developing their own apps on which passengers can pay to access their own wifi. That way they’ll keep their own equipment. In the U.S., I believe it’s more the burden of moving so many large, bulky electronics on and off airplanes that will prevent a move to cell phones. I prefer the old days of sending short voice messages via postal mail. My personal belief is that you’re better off just using the old fashioned phone. It allows you to spend more time talking or texting and makes it easier to separate your work from your free time. This is the era of too much travel and too much time spent away from the office.

I see little prospect that phone calls on planes will be welcome until the end of the next decade. That’s when satellites will be the norm. Satellite phones typically take minutes to send and receive. So a passenger needs a signal, which is not always available in areas where cell towers are not located. In those situations, you’ll need to wait until your flight lands and then look up the tower’s internet status. Basically, you’ll have to wait for your area to get a cell tower and hope you’re reachable. While that sounds like a mess, that’s how it used to be.

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