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Qantas says it will launch new technology on some domestic aircraft later this year to allow passengers to send and receive e-mail and SMS via their mobile phones or GPRS-enabled portable devices.

Qantas says it will launch new technology on some domestic aircraft later this year to allow passengers to send and receive e-mail and SMS via their mobile phones or GPRS-enabled portable devices.

But it has stopped short of allowing passengers to make voice calls on mobiles phones in flight – a prospect that does not appeal to many other passengers who like a bit of peace in their cramped quarters.

The e-mail/SMS service is to be delivered via a partnership with technology developer AeroMobile, which claims its platform allows devices to be used safely without interfering with aircraft systems or the ground communication network.

AeroMobile is a UK-based company owned by Arinc of the US and Norwegian telco Telenor. It has also marketed its system to international carrier Emirates.

 

“Customers wanting to send or receive an SMS will require only a GSM phone and a global roaming account, while customers wanting to send or receive e-mails will need a GPRS-enabled device like a Blackberry or an appropriately equipped laptop,” said Qantas executive GM John Borghetti.

As for voice calls, Qantas says simply: “Voice connectivity is a feature of the technology but will not be activated as part of the new service.”

The technology initially will be installed on a number of Qantas’s B767-300 and A330-200 domestic aircraft. The Flying Kanga did not reveal charging plans for the service, but a note on the AeroMobile Web site says: “Charges for these services are conveniently billed to passengers’ existing mobile phone account, similar to any other mobile ‘roaming’ traffic. “

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