“Hi, I’m on a plane.”

According to the Associated Press, you can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe later this year under new rules that will allow air travelers to stay in touch starting at 9,800 feet.

But don’t expect to use your phone on a U.S. flight anytime soon. The ban remains in place for all U.S. carriers, including domestic and international flights.

The decision on April 7, 2008 by the European Union makes the 27-nation bloc the first region in the world to scrap bans on the use of cell phones in the sky.

According to Gizmodo, The technical requirements are quite simple.

Cell phone calls will be connected through an onboard base station. The base will relay all calls to a satellite, which will pass them to the ground-based cell network. A flight’s captain will have the power to turn off service anytime.

Phone service will be blocked during takeoff and landing, EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said. That means using your cell phone will fall under roughly the same restrictions as using your laptop or iPod. In Europe, travelers will be allowed to turn on their phones after planes climb past 10,000 feet. That’s when other electronic devices are typically permitted. Captains will also be able to block cell phone service during turbulence.

Meanwhile, travelers are already expressing concern about another kind of disruption — noisy passengers. The friendly skies are one of the last refuges against shrill ringtones and yapping callers.

The new EU rules were welcomed by airlines, some of which, such as Air France-KLM, had already launched a trial of in-flight phone service on some European routes. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines introduced its in-flight phone services on its Dubai-to-Casablanca route but limits the number of calls passengers can make and bars calls during night flights.

German airline Lufthansa said Monday it does not plan to introduce the service because a majority of its customers saw no need. Surveys have shown a large majority of customers against it, Lufthansa spokesman Jan Baerwalde said.

Expect to pay an arm and a leg for this air roaming.


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