When most of us take a flight, one of the first things we’re asked when taking off and landing is to turn our mobile phones and gadgets off. Although we’re able to turn them back on after a short while, they won’t connect to our networks.
That’s all set to change with Virgin Atlantic’s London to New York service, where users will have access to mobile phone signal, meaning that calls can be made and received, as can sms and mms messages, and the internet can be accessed.
Technology from a company called AeroMobile will be fitted to a new fleet of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus 330 jets, allowing for in-flight signal on smartphones and other cellular-connected mobile devices. In-flight signal is in place on several airlines around the world, but Virgin Atlantic will become the UK’s first to offer such a service.
Initially to be used on a select few planes for the London to New York route, Virgin plans to put mobile signal in no fewer than 17 planes on several different routes by the end of this year.
The tech from AeroMobile effectively creates a miniature mobile network 35,000 feet up in the air, allowing you to join a new kind of extremely geeky mile-high club. Unfortunately as you’re leaving the country you’ll technically be roaming using AeroMobile’s network, which means you’ll incur additional charges on top of your monthly bill or pay as you go credit.
Passengers flying with British Airways on the same route can currently use in-flight Wi-Fi and a text messaging service, although Virgin’s flight has it all with calling on top.
Of course, our phones and gadgets will still need to be turned off for takeoff and landing, but for the tiresome 8-10 hours in between, you’re free to natter away on your mobile and send texts to your heart’s delight.
Would you make calls while on your way across the pond, or would the roaming charges put you off? Let us know what you think.