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Cell Phones To Be Allowed On UK Planes

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the oh-great-this-will-make-the-trip-faster dept.

Cellphones 217

Matty the Monkey writes "The British regulator in charge of air travel has approved cellphones for use on airline flights, reports the BBC. Airlines will be allowed to activate base stations in the plane's tail after takeoff, creating a zone of mobile coverage around the plane. 'The services could stop working once aircraft leave European airspace. Initially, only second generation networks will be offered but growing interest would mean that third generation, or 3G, services would follow later, said Ofcom. The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground.'"

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Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874380)

I once had the displeasure of sitting on a plane on the tarmac for two hours while our flight was delayed and the pilot allowed everyone to use their cell phones. It was torture as most folks were not talking on their cell phones to arrange transportation or take care of business, but they were talking (loudly) about everything and nothing and forcing those around them to have to listen! Even worse, people began trying to speak over one another and the volume gradually increased until there was an amazing din of people calling their friends to say "Hey! Hey! Betcha can't guess where I'm calling you from! An airplane! Ha ha ha ha, yeah and on my own cell phone even!". It was a horrible forced invasion of personal space and having to listen to someone blabber on and on "Like I know she does not like me because, like, she totally gave me a bitchy look yesterday and I was so like, peeved you know? because like, I think she is just so.... like not on top of it...... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

I am waiting for the smashed phones and fist fights to start happening in response to this.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (4, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874516)

Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874610)

I wouldn't mind it in the slightest if it were limited to non-voice uses. What's to object to? But conversations would be justification for homicide.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874860)

Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?
The vibration mode thing seems like an essential thing (in ALL public places actually). The sound made by incoming texts is just as annoying as some retard talking on the plane into their phone. It's Pavlovian. The sound of incoming message alert is designed to attract the attention of the recipient -- unfortunately this also means everyone else within 40 feet.

As an aside, I'm sure there must be a way of mathematically proving that the altitude of a phone call is inversely proportional to importance of the call.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Insightful)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875188)

The vibration mode thing seems like an essential thing (in ALL public places actually). The sound made by incoming texts is just as annoying as some retard talking on the plane into their phone. It's Pavlovian. The sound of incoming message alert is designed to attract the attention of the recipient -- unfortunately this also means everyone else within 40 feet.
Agreed. I wish there was a way to force this on people, but as far as I know there isn't.

As an aside, I'm sure there must be a way of mathematically proving that the altitude of a phone call is inversely proportional to importance of the call.
This on the other hand can be fixed. With pricing. Having the cell on the plane essentially means that people are roaming on the planes net, just as if you were in another country, and therefore you could attach a price to different usages. Voice could be made more expensive (i.e. meant for business use only), and data could be priced lower. I people really wanted to chit-chat they could use IM on their laptop instead.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875000)

"Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?"

That would be nice...but, I try not to text msg...as that it costs like $0.10 each, and I pretty much get all the voice minutes I can use in my plan.

But, I understand this is UK...and that maybe it is the opposite...cheaper to txt than to talk on cell phones over there?

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875038)

Possibly. I'm a T-Mobile user, and I pay a flat fee to get unlimited test messages (alerts from servers and SCADA equipment).

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

CmdrSammo (1086973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875432)

Actually standard SMS messages are more expensive, 12p I think now. However almost all contracts that I'm aware of include x (usually in the hundreds) free texts, usually more than the number of minutes on the plan. Even pay-as-you go services now offer like x free texts as long as you top up say £10 a month.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (5, Funny)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874522)

It was a horrible forced invasion of personal space and having to listen to someone blabber on and on "Like I know she does not like me because, like, she totally gave me a bitchy look yesterday and I was so like, peeved you know? because like, I think she is just so.... like not on top of it...... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

When other people force me into their conversations in public, where I cannot really move away without significant inconvience, and the conversations are that inane, I generally join in. For instance, you could have said something like, "Oh, you know I hate when I get bitchy looks. You always know that... [I'm not going to continue, but if you talked for five minutes, they'll get off the phone." Alternatively, instead of talking for a long time, you could be uncouth; "She was probably bitchy because she was getting her period. After she's bled out her vagina for a few days, I'm sure she'll be fine."

The important thing is to entertain yourself as you interfer.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Interesting)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874996)

The important thing is to entertain yourself as you interfer.
Sound advice, I only wish people would stop trying to be so polite and take it.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874532)

The passengers don't deserve to be fist-fought nearly as much as the assholes who approved the policy.

mod parent insightful (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874878)

so very true.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (5, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874570)

>I once had the displeasure of sitting on a plane on the tarmac for two hours....

It will be much worse when the plane is up and flying. Changes in pressure, plus the engine noise, are going to make hearing the tinny little speaker in mobile (since this is the UK) phones very difficult. And when hearing goes, shouting follows. Joy.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (4, Interesting)

kpainter (901021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874648)

This is an opportunity! Bose makes that headset that cancels out engine noise pretty effectively. If somebody could make a headset that cancels out idiots on their cellphones, they would make a fortune. I say this jokingly but I am serious. I would buy one in a heartbeat.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (3, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874696)

I have the nice Bose headsets and while, yes... they do cancel out engine noise nicely, they are so well engineered that you can very easily hear voices and conversations sitting next to you or on the overhead PA. Believe me, I have elite frequent flyer status and fly enough to know that this policy is going to cause problems.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874842)

I don't have a set but I understand that they almost enhance voice because the background noise is so effectively reduced. Since voice is not usually periodic, it is very difficult to cancel in the same manner. But somebody will figure out a way to do it if they go through with this stupid policy.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875272)

If it's expensive enough to phone (e.g. £0.50 per minute? £1 a minute?) then it shouldn't be a problem, people will text instead. But probably the airlines will try and maximise the return on the calls made (assuming they take a cut), rather than minimise the annoyance.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875286)

A headset that cancels out the idiots is easy - just make sure there's a high enough potential difference between the two earphones. The difficult part is persuading said idiots to wear it...

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Informative)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874708)

As someone who uses public transportation, I know that a weak signal for someone using a cell means I have to plug in the canal phones [wikipedia.org] . Now with satellite delay and engine noise, I think I'm going to need more noise blocking.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874760)

There's only one thing to in this situation: Retaliation. You should have pulled out a giant phone and stood right next to them and screamed "I'M ON A PLANE!!!" right next to their ear, "I'M ON PLANE AND THERE'S THIS WANKER NEXT TO ME TALKING SHIT!!!!".

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (5, Interesting)

elliotm00 (1204958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874820)

This whole problem of people talking loudly on a cell phone is due to a fundamental flaw in cell phone design. In the old-style AT&T wired phones, your voice was fed back to the handset receiver, so you could hear yourself when you're talking.

With cell phones, this doesn't happen, so you feel like you need to speak loud enough to hear yourself. Which is louder than a normal conversation because you're covering one ear.

Why cell phone manufacturers don't feed back your voice to the receiver, I don't know.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875352)

This whole problem of people talking loudly on a cell phone is due to a fundamental flaw in cell phone design. In the old-style AT&T wired phones, your voice was fed back to the handset receiver, so you could hear yourself when you're talking.

No, it wasn't.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (3, Informative)

psmears (629712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875436)

No, it wasn't.
Really? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (4, Funny)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874990)

Death cannot come swiftly enough to those morons. I ride the bus every day and I get a full dose. Apparently some people don't see anything wrong with subjecting fellow passengers to an hour long conversation. There are 3 types of calls on the bus -

1. Incoming Call - Ring ring. Hello, Hi Larry, No, I'm on the bus, I'll call you when I get to the office. Bye.

2. Person gets on bus and calls - Hi, I just got on the bus, pick me up at the bus loop at 5, thanks bye.

3. Person gets on bus (ok, girl gets on bus) - talks loudly, same conversation as the one you quoted. "So she's all like get over it you know and I go like whatever and she goes.......blah de blah ..." for a solid hour.

Calls #1 & #2 - no problem, they don't bother me, the person is being considerate of others. Call #3, They'll find her corpse stuffed into a culvert somewhere, and the cause of demise will be suffocation due to a cell phone lodged in the trachea. Not that I'm angry or anything. As long as the jury members are over 30 I'll never be convicted either.

Sure, cel phones on a plane, what could possibly go wrong. /twitch.

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875060)

Apparently some people don't see anything wrong with subjecting fellow passengers to an hour long conversation.
It has always amazed me more so that these people care nothing for their own privacy. Anytime that I'm out in public, I try not to be heard while conversing because it isn't anyone else's business. Of course, in a society that devalues privacy more and more everyday, it isn't entirely surprising. Or are these people just that self-centered and oblivious of their surroundings?

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875298)

I get <i>embarrassed</i> if other people can hear me on the phone.
   "Yes mum, I'm on the train, I'l--"
   "I can't hear you, can you talk louder?"
   "No, I'm on the train.  To London.  It'll be there in 40 minutes, it won't be late"
and while that's going on I'm trying to still look cool (and probably failing).

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875102)

This is the exact reason why the FAA barred cell phone use on US flights. What is with the Brits? Maybe they don't have cellphones growing out of their ears like many Americans?

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (1)

Second_Derivative (257815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875148)

Well, this is Britain we're talking about. The ones who'll be doing the most talking will be the chavs. Dare to complain at them, and you'll get your head kicked in, since starting fights is their main form of entertainment (although at least on an airplane you can be reasonably sure that you're not going to get knifed)

Re:Fist fights at 30,000 feet. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875160)

Right when I saw the summary I predicted this comment.

Someone talking on the phone next to me is no worse than them watching hentai on their Neno with the volume turned up to deaf-before-50 level.

Yes, that has happened to me.

Damn Brits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874390)

The plane is mobile, not your cell phone!

Aaaargh (4, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874392)

Sales of noise-cancelling headphones suddenly rise...

Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874496)

Wonderful invention. Buy them by the box.

 

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874626)

It makes it impossible to hear announcements over the PA.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (2, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874674)

Don't worry, if the plane tips over and points straight down that's your cue to take them out.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875262)

It makes it impossible to hear announcements over the PA.

You say that like it's a bad thing. I have NEVER heard ANYTHING said on an airliner's PA system which made one whit of difference to me.

When people begin making peace with their maker, I'll know it might be time to ask what was just said, though.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875404)

I have NEVER heard ANYTHING said on an airliner's PA system which made one whit of difference to me.
Sure there are things that aren't that important, but I usually like to know things I've heard on the PA like "we're landing at a different airport due to weather."

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (2, Informative)

sricetx (806767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874642)

I always fly wearing earplugs. Specifically Flents' Flitemate pressure-reducing earplugs. Not only do they keep my ears from building up painful pressure upon descent, they have the very beneficial side effect of sending the message "no, I do NOT want to talk to you" to the fat dimwit inevitably siting next to me on the plane.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874726)

Finally! Someone that doesn't want to hear other people talk, yet is smart enough to buy earplugs. For some reason it seems that the less a person likes to hear other people use cell phones the lower their intelligence goes. It is good to see that this is not a universal truth. There might actually be hope for other people that like it to be silent in public places.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

Fishead (658061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874962)

I pulled out ear plugs once on a road trip when the kids were getting loud in the back seat. I got in flack though because I didn't bring a pair for the wife.

When I used to fly, I would wear earplugs, then ear phones (the big ones) on top. It worked pretty good, and with engine noise and such, wouldn't disturb anyone else. My biggest problem was that cranked to full volume, the battery wouldn't make it for the 8-10 hours of flying.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875054)

"Finally! Someone that doesn't want to hear other people talk, yet is smart enough to buy earplugs. For some reason it seems that the less a person likes to hear other people use cell phones the lower their intelligence goes. It is good to see that this is not a universal truth. There might actually be hope for other people that like it to be silent in public places."

I just plug in my Shure in ear phones...open up the laptop, and usually play my Zeppelin DVD or a bootleg Stones DVD I got...and jam with that. Pretty much eliminates talking to anyone. I only pause or stop to order drinks.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875366)

Wearing earplugs doesn't just filter out cellphone talker noise. It's important to be able to hear unexpected sounds.

People have always had conversations in public. It's only become a particular nuisance on cellphones because they talk so loud. There's no reason to talk above a 6-inch voice in a face-to-face conversation on a train or airplane, and no reason to do so on a cellphone either. But because people have a hard time hearing on cellphones and don't have feedback of their own voice through the earpiece they talk louder and louder until they're practically yelling. Look, sometimes people talk loudly in face-to-face conversations and they're obnoxious too. It's not a matter of cell-phone hate, it's a matter of courtesy. Often in public hearing things is useful, and I'm not going to put in earplugs because people can't keep their voices down. I'll ask them to quiet down.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875086)

It must be hard to be that special.

Re:Earplugs... £0.15 a pair. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875388)

I always fly wearing earplugs. Specifically Flents' Flitemate pressure-reducing earplugs. Not only do they keep my ears from building up painful pressure upon descent

That of course breaks the laws of physics...

Re:Aaaargh (1)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874836)

I personally prefer those headphones that fit into the ear canal (e.g. Etymotic ER-6i). They do a very good job in blocking the noise from that jerk next door who likes to play Guitar Hero when I'm trying to study.

More expensive? Why? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874464)

First off, why would it have to be more expensive. Secondly, just how do you intend on advertising that increased fee? What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground? Would I still have to pay a higher rate when today I don't have to?

Re:More expensive? Why? (3, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874512)

>What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground?

from the summary....

>Airlines will be allowed to activate base stations in the plane's tail after takeoff...

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Dannkape (1195229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874566)

This is similar to the services available on several ferries. The increased fee is advertised as "cost might differ from your regular service" or something like that. Usually in small print.

Also, like with the ferries, as long as you can connect to you own network, you are not affected by their prices. No idea what kind of ground-based coverage you get at 30 000 feet though...

Hope the prices are high enough for people to only make the mistake once of making a non-essential call.

Re:More expensive? Why? (0)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875354)

No idea what kind of ground-based coverage you get at 30 000 feet though
One that really breaks the network. At that altitude, you can see tens, if not hundreds of towers (almost direct line of sight, no multiple return paths issues) and the one you are closest to changes every few minutes, if not seconds. The amount of traffic you generate chatting to all of the towers and the load on the system from constantly switching your local tower (something the system is designed to do quite infrequently) places a lot of strain on the network. If there is a microcell (or femtocell, or whatever they are calling them these days) in the plane, then your phone will find a strong signal from it, lower its transmission power (the other towers won't be able to receive its signals) and ignore everything else.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874618)

First off, why would it have to be more expensive.
To deter people from yakking all the way on an 8 hour transatlantic flight.

Secondly, just how do you intend on advertising that increased fee? What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground? Would I still have to pay a higher rate when today I don't have to?
From what I've read, they'll disable the cells while on the ground and during takeoff and landing.

Practicalities aside, who else thinks that cramming many people into a small space for hours on end, then adding the aggravation that's on top of most people's list of annoyances (loud cell phone conversations) into the mix, is a monumentally stupid idea? They better make it damn expensive.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874768)

I think it is monumentally stupid to go into a crowded public place and NOT expect a lot of noise. Once you get past that monumentally stupid mistake, the next monumentally stupid mistake often made is not knowing what ear plugs are for, and thus knowing that if hearing other people talk annoys you, you can solve the problem with $0.15 worth of equipment.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875370)

I think it is monumentally stupid to go into a crowded public place and NOT expect a lot of noise.
You clearly haven't used public transport in Britain.
No one talks to each other.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875438)

That's a bunch of bologna. I've been to London. I took the Tube every day and a heavy rail into and out of London every day. The heavy rail had like 5 people per car when we went to we all talked to each other. The Tube was packed and while we didn't carry on coversations, others did usually loudly. I learned some new words during those times.

It's more expensive because ... (2, Insightful)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874636)

(1) The extra base station costs money, and someone has to pay for it, after all I want to get paid for the work I've done on it don't I!

(2) The satellite bandwidth costs money.

(3) The extra infrastructure on the ground costs money.

And, last time I heard, the ground in most places is lower than 3,000m so if you use your phone on the ground what happens is that you'll be just as liable to prosecution as you are today.

Look mate, when there's a phone switched on in my plane I can hear it over the VHF radio - how do I know it's not also affecting the NAV radio (adjacent band) and making the VOR needle point the wrong way? - you can't hear that.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874752)

First off, why would it have to be more expensive.
Can you think of anything on a plane that isn't more expensive?

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874818)

> Can you think of anything on a plane that isn't more expensive?

The headphones they give you with the groovy `you can't use this at home even if you steal them because it won't fit anything` plug are pretty cheap.

Re:More expensive? Why? (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874906)

They are £1 earphones, sold for £5, and you can only use them on planes!

I mean, the nuts are pretty cheap, they're still more costly than their terrestrial analog.

About the nuts though- you don't get the fart smell when you open them, because your olfactory bulb is already saturated with the ass-gas of your fellow travelers. Bonus.

I'm in a plane (0, Offtopic)

zaax (637433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874486)

I'm in a plane

Epic Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874498)

There went the last cell-free place on Earth. Thanks a lot UK, you've ruined the only good thing about air travel.

just so long... (5, Funny)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874520)

as the pilots aren't making calls while flying. I don't want the last thing I hear is "Gotta go, about to crash"

Call This Number NOW (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874538)


1-800-ALQ-AEDA [huffingtonpost.com] and ask for John McCain.

9/11 anybody? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874556)

Funny how all those 'cellphone calls' were made from planes above 3,000 feet on 9/11...

"Mom, this is Mark Bingham"...

Re:9/11 anybody? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874830)

Yeah they were. I was on an airplane on 9/11 that was diverted from it's original destination of LA to Las Vegas. Immediately some guy pulled out his cell phone, made a call, and let us know what was going on.

So I can tell you from personal experience that cell phones do, indeed, work on planes.

Re:9/11 anybody? (4, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875216)

Yes, dammit, cellphones will work from an airplane. That is not the problem.

When your phone connects to a terminal, both the phone and the terminal measure the strength of each other's signal and they adjust their transmitting power to give a usable signal. That's why your battery charge doesn't last as long out in the country: your phone is transmitting at full power.

When you're at high altitude in an airplane, your phone will connect to a terminal that might be fifty or a hundred miles away, it will use full power to do that, and it will hit every other cell tower within that range. That loads the system down.

The system described in TFA puts a terminal right in the airplane, where your phone can communicate with it at minimum power. Then the signal goes over a reserved channel from the airplane to a dedicated ground terminal and into the main cell system, without fscking up everybody else on the same channel as your phone.

rj

Can't we make calls now? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874564)

According to the 9/11 commission people made cell phone calls from flight 93. How come they need extra equipment to make the calls now? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_93#Phone_calls [wikipedia.org]

Re:Can't we make calls now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874652)

Um, what happened to that plane again?

Re:Can't we make calls now? (3, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874678)

Ok, troll feeding, but apparently you didn't even bother reading your own link.

A. All but TWO of the calls came from cell phones. The rest were from Verizon Airfones that are mounted to the back of the middle seat that charge like $20/sec. (But ya know, if you're being hijacked, you make the damn call, charges be damned)

B. The plane was about 2,500 feet off the ground when the cell phones were able to connect and then were dropped shortly after as the plane, well, crashed. Abridging the last paragraph in the LINK YOU BLOODY GAVE.

So...yeah. Make a cell call from 30,000 feet and get back to us.

Re:Can't we make calls now? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875372)

So...yeah. Make a cell call from 30,000 feet and get back to us.
being as we're only talking about 5-6 miles [google.ca] of completely open air, i don't think that would be a problem, though you'd be jumping cells pretty frequently, which is presume is why they're putting a cell site on the plane itself.

Re:Can't we make calls now? (2, Informative)

cloakable (885764) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875292)

The problem isn't in the mobile phone - it's in the infrastructure. Your mobile phone, when switched on, tries to make a connection to the strongest base tower it can 'see'. On the ground, in a car, etc this isn't a problem - the car isn't moving too fast, and there's probably buildings, trees, etc blocking signals from lots of towers.

Up in an aircraft, it's a very different situation - your phone can see plenty of different towers, and it'll register with all of them. The plane is moving pretty quickly too, so your phone is going to be registering with plenty of towers as time goes by. This creates a huge strain on the mobile infrastructure, compared to normal useage.

What the microcell in the aircraft will do, is give mobile phones a very local 'tower' to register with, and stay registered with. No strain.

Re:Can't we make calls now? (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875346)

Yes, it is perfectly possible for a cell phone in a plane at 3000m and probably much higher to contact a ground station and make a call.

The problem for airlines is that in order to do this, the cell phone has to be operating on full power.

When the cell phone is operating on full power, it is highly likely to interfere with the plane's navigation systems.

By installing a mini base station in the passenger compartment of the plane, cell phones on the plane will lock onto the base station on the plane and operate at minimal power. This makes it far less likely to interfere with the plane's navigational system.

An additional problem with using a cell phone on a plane to talk directly to a ground station is that the phone keeps switching ground stations as local conditions vary and the plane moves between cells. This switching is much more rapid than it would be for a person moving at normal speeds on the ground and this causes problems with the phone network. By using a base station on the plane this problem is completely avoided.

Security Double Standard (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874638)

With all the paranoia at airports, you can't even get on a plane with a 120g tube of toothpaste. But somehow cellular phones are ok, even though we can supposedly crash the plane if we turn it on at the wrong time? Basically if there is a buck to be made, the authorities and airlines are surprisingly flexible.

Re:Security Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874732)

What's really exciting is I've finally got my disposable very-long-range remote detonator for my toothpaste bomb.

Posting anonymously for no good reason because the NSA has my IP anyway.

Mobile phone jammers (2, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874686)

Sooner or later someone will mention phone jammers, and a few posts later someone will counter with the fact that it might block a doctors phone.

This is the Godwin of mobile phone topics. Ok wait for it...

Re:Mobile phone jammers (2, Informative)

wiz31337 (154231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874826)

Screw the doctor, I'd be more worried about jamming the Pilot's radio communications.

Re:Mobile phone jammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874900)

What kind of no-cell enforcement Nazi feels the need to pack a jammer around with them?

Re:Mobile phone jammers (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875076)

The kind who is wearing headphones or earplugs, and just gets a kick out of both disrupting the calls of people who are on phones, and irritating the piss out of everyone else when the phone people start shouting.

Re:Mobile phone jammers (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875260)

Phone jamming. Awesome idea! After 25 minutes of listening to some idiot blathering on a cel phone at 30,000 ft his fellow passengers beat him senseless and then jam his celphone right up his....Oh wait, you're talking about a different kind of phone jamming. I guess that would work too. Not as educational though.

Old news (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874688)

Everyone knows that several cellphone calls were placed without a "base station" in the plane on 9/11, somehow successfully hopping from cell tower to cell tower in seconds at 400+ MPH without disconnecting. We all know this was already possible. Right? Right?!?

So what? Others been there already (1)

justfornow (558786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874744)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7308041.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Dubai-based airline Emirates has become the first commercial airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls during flights.

Yay, I can't wait (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874770)

So not only will we have to put up with babies crying* when the entire flight is trying to sleep, we'll now have to put up with some prick, most usually the same one from the cinema, who's left his phone on outdoor mode and is the only person on the flight who doesn't realise that its their phone that is ringing.

*I know babies can't help it, but the parents could at least try and comfort them instead of letting them scream their heads off.

Re:Yay, I can't wait (0, Troll)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875210)

I know babies can't help it, but the parents could at least try and comfort them instead of letting them scream their heads off.

My view on it is quite simple - an entity that is in a state of maturation whereby all it does is eat, sleep, cry a lot and shit itself probably does not give a tinker's cuss whether or not it spends two weeks in Benidorm or two weeks in the home of its grandparents so save some money and leave the bloody thing at home!

All problems have solutions (2, Funny)

pimpinmonk (238443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874788)

The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground
The cost of punching annoying cell-phone blabbing passenger on the phone next to you in the face, however, will remain constant

But do you know why cell phones are not allowed? (5, Interesting)

nickull (943338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874856)

The real reason why cell phones are banned on planes has nothing to do with their interference with a planes navigation system. Think about it - if there was even a minimal chance that a cell phone could cause a crash of a commercial jet, no one would be allowed to bring one on board. The FAA has tests and will fail any wire not shielded to withstand such interference.

The real reason is that cell phone networks are based on a 2 dimensional system. Cell towers grant leases based on which tower has the strongest signal from a particular phone. When the user of the phone moves from one tower's coverage to another, the lease is transferred. If a plane full of people flew over a metropolitan area with 150 cell phones negotiating leases, chaos ensues as the system is not designed to support a 3 dimensional model. Newer networks are but the older ones will be problematic. I highly suspect the British trial will have a special base on the plane which will take all the leases so the ground towers will not be affected.

The last reason is annoyance. I actually used Skype on planes from Vancouver to Frankfurt equipped with Boeing's Connexion internet service. While the trial ended, it was clear that using Skype on an overnight commercial flight could cause a great deal of annoyance to passengers wanting to sleep. ON local flights, it might be acceptable for a few sociopaths to talk the entire time thus ensuring their fellow passengers have full details of their personal lives.

I personally think that it will be less than two days before we see a newspaper article about a cleaning crew finding a passenger duct taped to the planes toilet with a cell phone shoved up his hind side.

Re:But do you know why cell phones are not allowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874938)

I personally think that it will be less than two days before we see a newspaper article about a cleaning crew finding a passenger duct taped to the planes toilet with a cell phone shoved up his hind side...

Yes. God I can't wait for that day.

Re:But do you know why cell phones are not allowed (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875162)

. Cell towers grant leases based on which tower has the strongest signal from a particular phone. When the user of the phone moves from one tower's coverage to another, the lease is transferred. If a plane full of people flew over a metropolitan area with 150 cell phones negotiating leases, chaos ensues as the system is not designed to support a 3 dimensional model.

Wouldn't a bunch of passengers on a high-speed train have the same problem? Especially the Intercity ones doing 120 miles/hour? From using a wireless modem card, it seems that it takes the modem card five or more minutes to pick up every nearby cellphone tower and lock onto the home network. Then a whole bunch of passengers zipping across the sky would skip through the honeycomb arrangement of cell towers, connecting with every N'th tower?

Re:But do you know why cell phones are not allowed (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875252)

There's a big difference between 120 mph on a train and 650 mph on an aeroplane.

Pilot Killing Waves (3, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874858)

Wait, I'm so confused. I thought cell phones and other wireless devices emitted invisible pilot killing waves, so deadly that we must turn off all devices upon takeoff and landing, and put them into "pilot safe" mode when in flight?

I saw a documentary on it here:
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/10/30 [penny-arcade.com]

Oh, I guess that frequency-hopping signals really aren't that bad.

Wrong direction. On a bus in tokyo they say .... (2, Interesting)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874874)

On the Tokyo airport bus, the announcement says:

"Passengers are reminded that portable telephones should not be used on the bus as they annoy the neighbors!"

So they've been lying (0, Redundant)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874882)

all these many years that they've been claiming that mobile phones interfere with navigation equipment, that was just lies right?

Cause if mobile phones really interfere with navigation equipment then why do they let people take mobile phones on the plane?

I bet someone could make a radio jammer that will fit in a mobile phone form factor.

Attacking aircraft is just so damn simple that it is obvious that "terrorists" are just not interested.

In Other News... (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#22874916)

... the number of mid-air fatal beatings of fellow passengers with in-flight meals is about to rise 5000%.

Attention all passengers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22874954)

Please switch off your portable audio tape players as radiation from the headphone cables may interfere with the flight.

For entertainment, you may instead dial through the wireless GSM base station we have stuck to the back of the aircraft.

Completely useless (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875036)

as we don't have 'cellphones' in Britain. Now, as for mobile phones....

Cell hopping? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875040)

So, let's say I'm talking on my cell phone. However, a plane with its own "cell tower" is in its tail heading toward me. What happens next? Will my phone see that as a stronger signal and hop to the plane, and then back to a ground station?

I hope they figured this all out, because I can imagine overhead flights causing a lot of cellular interruption of service for those of us on the ground. Better yet, what happens when two planes cross paths?

Re:Cell hopping? (1)

jkf (85908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875214)

The pico cells they would put on the planes have only a fraction of the power output of a normal base station, so I would be highly surprised if your phone received any signal from the plane, let alone enough for the phone to consider handing off to the plane. Two planes crossing paths might be problematic, but the base station in your plane would have a stronger signal compared to the other plane, so your phone should stay associated to the closer station.

Re:Cell hopping? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875228)

So, let's say I'm talking on my cell phone. However, a plane with its own "cell tower" is in its tail heading toward me. What happens next?

What will happen next is that if I am on the plane, your cellphone will disappear down the nearest toilet.

Re:Cell hopping? (2, Funny)

wasted time (891410) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875412)

Better yet, what happens when two planes cross paths?

My guess is all calls get dropped; and those two planes don't make their scheduled arrival times.

Done with planes (3, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875078)

I'm old enough to remember the Jet Set era. Air travel was so glamorous then. But now...

Phones. The latest in a series of moves designed to make traveling on a plane as excruciating as possible. Were I wearing a tinfoil hat I might even think it were a deliberate policy to discourage people from taking planes, in the name of terrorism or whatever this week's Reichstag fire is.
  1. First there's the awful journey in a car and the cost of parking in the long-term carpark (slightly cheaper than buying your own plane). Or a similar fee in any taxi, should you decide to leave your car at home.
  2. Next up is the confusing maze of finding your check-in point in a plastic ugly 60s monstrosity designed by the same blind architect who also does all the world's supermarket carparks.
  3. Then you wait in line to check-in. Usually behind a Mongolian rugby team, who all have visa issues, and who all want to ask very, very detailed questions about their seats.
  4. Then there's the security check. The hours of waiting, then the removing of shoes, belts, rings, laptops, false teeth, and god knows whatever else. This despite the fact that it's pretty easy to throttle a steward using the shoulder strap on your carry-on.
  5. Then you have to hang around for hours in the departure lounge (you arrived 3 hours early to beat the lines at security). You fill the time by buying bad coffee which costs about the same as 100 gallons of avation fuel. Tastes like it too.
  6. Then you get on the plane....
And now some fucker's gonna sit and phone for hours?

Screw planes, I'm going by boat. It's probably quicker.

noise (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875084)

One more reason not to fly so often anymore.

trolLkore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22875098)

sys7ems. The Gay leaving core. I

Why Test This On Us British. For Christ's Sake... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22875166)

We already have far too many problems from uneducated idiots breeding like rats with their own kin and causing the creation of far too many chavs [wikipedia.org] in this once-great country of ours.

These idiots are the social equivalent to US trailer trash with the same lack of attention to proper dentistry, but with enough benefit money leeched from we honest tax payers to be able to afford the latest mobile telephones and countless numbers of spoilers in an attempt to turn their shitty little cars into something that looks like, but doesn't go anywhere near as fast as, an F-15 fighter aircraft.

It is this same social undercurrent that drag their rattish litters onto commercial aircraft once a year in order to enjoy eating fish and chips in the sunshine of Benidorm in Spain. These half-wits are so mindbogglingly stupid that they will probably do without a packet of "fags" and four cans of export lager just to make phone calls on aircraft as loudly as possible just because it gets right up the noses of every other non-chav passenger on the same plane.

"Oooh, look Shazza. We're up in the air now, let's phone your half-sister mother Tracy and she how many cheap fags she wants brought back wiv us!"

God forbid! I hope they also give the attendants a few extra pairs of rubber gloves for the flight because they're going to need them in order to hygenically retrieve the mobile phone of the first dolt that uses a mobile phone on a plane near me.

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