It could soon be possible to access 5G mobile reception from smartphones during flights. At least, a new EU regulation has laid the foundation for this.
5G mobile reception on planes
In a new regulation, the European Commission has laid an important foundation for 5G mobile reception on airplanes. Thus, the regulation addresses new “opportunities for innovation” that will also enable Wi-Fi reception on the roads.
Accordingly, passengers on flights within the EU should be able to use their smartphones in the future with maximum possible connection quality, on par with the 5G network on the ground.
“The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to the possibilities of using super-fast, high-capacity connections,” said EU Commissioner Thierry Breton.
To this end, passengers’ smartphones are to connect to small 5G base stations placed directly on the aircraft. Via a satellite network, these are to connect from the air to the mobile networks on the ground and thus enable 5G reception on board. All services, such as calls, SMS and mobile Internet, should be able to be used in this way.
However, the European Commission has not yet provided any concrete details on when reception will be possible. It is also not yet clear whether the use of the service will be associated with additional costs. Presumably, each airline will be able to cook its own soup.
In the future, newer smartphone models may also be able to use Starlink’s satellite Internet. In October, SpaceX officially presented the Starlink Aviation service. Here, transmission speeds of up to 350 MBit per second are said to be possible, with comparatively low latency.
Corresponding retrofit kits for aircraft cost around 150,000 US dollars, plus installation costs and a monthly service fee. Here, too, it is still unclear when and in what form satellite Internet for aircraft will ultimately be launched.
There is currently talk of delivery to airlines from mid-2023. It will probably be a little longer before 5G mobile reception starts in aircraft.