Bye to airplane mode? The European Union and its initiative to have a 5G network on flights

Passengers will be able to use 5G to the maximum, but it will depend on the airlines.


We’re used to airlines asking passengers to switch  their phones to airplane mode on flights, but this might be a thing of the past.

The European Union has updated its policies on communications on a flight and has opened the possibility for users to use mobile networks on board.

Specifically, it is about 5G networks , so passengers will be able to keep their cell phones connected in this spectrum.

“Passengers on board aircraft will be able to use their cell phones to the fullest of their capabilities and characteristics, as is the case with 5G networks with terrestrial antennas,” says the European Commission.

5G on board? It will depend on the airlines

As the European Union makes clear , these 5G networks are not the same as the ones we use on land.

The planes will have to come equipped with a “pico-cell”, a special connectivity equipment that allows users to connect, receive calls and use both SMS and data .

The “pico-cell” typically communicates with a satellite network , which triangulates with the aircraft and a terrestrial network.

This system is similar to inflight Wi-Fi , which some airlines already offer either as a free or paid perk to keep users connected, albeit with limits on speed and far from ideal latency.