ACMA moves towards inflight cellular regulations

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 9, 2009

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a discussion paper about licensing arrangements for the use of mobile phones on board aircraft.

“In 2007 the ACMA took the regulatory lead on this initiative by approving a trial of inflight mobile communications on a single Qantas aircraft on domestic routes,” said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman. “In view of the success of the trial and service announcements by Qantas and V Australia, the ACMA is now proposing radiocommunications licensing arrangements that would allow inflight mobile communications services on Australian aircraft.”

ACMA is proposing to allow inflight communications on aircraft by third party agreements with spectrum licensees for airspace above geographical areas where frequencies are spectrum licensed, and apparatus and class licensing in areas where frequencies are not spectrum licensed. It says that this approach will allow it to protect existing terrestrial mobile services from interference and allow for the use of new technologies on board aircraft. The discussion paper is available for public comment, with submissions due by January 2010.

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Qantas and V Australia have announced that they plan to introduce mobile connectivity on their aircraft,  limited to data and SMS use only, through installing a small ‘pico cell’ on board the aircraft which would route the signals over satellite communications networks back to a ground station.

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