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Is airplane mode becoming a thing of the past? Critical date set


Airline passengers in the European Union (EU) will soon be able to use their phones in the sky. The details are not yet entirely clear, but the decision could mean the ‘end of airplane mode’.

The European Commission has ruled that airlines will be able to provide 5G technology as well as slower mobile data on planes. This could mean that passengers will no longer need to put their phones in airplane mode, the BBC reports. However, details on how this will be implemented are not clear.

The deadline for member states to make 5G frequency bands available for airplanes is June 30, 2023.

This decision means that passengers will be able to use all the features of their phones during the flight. This means that those traveling between EU countries will be able to use data-heavy apps that stream music and video as well as calls.

“The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to the possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” said Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, who argued that the plan would “deliver innovative services for people” and help European companies grow.


Starting in 2008, the EU Commission reserved certain frequency bands for airplanes and allowed some services to offer internet access in the air. But this service was slow because it allowed people to connect between the plane and the ground via a satellite.

The new system will be able to take advantage of the much faster download speeds provided by 5G, which can be over 100 Mbps compared to the EE mobile network, allowing a movie to be downloaded in just a few minutes.

Dai Whittingham, chairman of the UK’s Flight Safety Committee, told the BBC that airplane mode has historically been important because of a lack of knowledge about how mobile devices affect airplanes, saying: “There was concern that they could interfere with automatic flight control systems. Our experience is that the risk of interference is very low. Our advice has always been that devices should be in airplane mode when taking flight.”


In the US, there is a concern that 5G frequencies could interfere with flights and potentially even lead to inaccurate altitude measurements.

Whittingham says this is not an issue in the UK and EU: “We have a different set of frequencies for 5G and lower power settings than are allowed in the US. Travelers want 5G. Regulators will open up that possibility, but there will be steps to ensure that everything they do is safe.”

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