The European Commission has updated its “implementing decision on spectrum for mobile communications on-board aircrafts” regarding in-flight 5G technology. The new rules will go into effect in 2023 and will allow the use of 5G during flights.
“5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies. The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity.”Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal market
For those with tech utilizing the newer cellular standard airplane mode will soon be a thing of the past. The decision rides on the use of Pico-cell network equipment that is installed in the aircraft which then connects users’ devices via either satellite or ground-based mobile networks. The European Commission has mandated that airlines have until June 30, 2023, to implement the network equipment.
Cellphone use has been prohibited during flights for a variety of concerns such as it interfering with the plane’s navigation systems or disrupting ground tower networks but the use of Pico Cell 5G appears to be the solution. Dai Whittingham (Chief executive of the UK Flight Safety Committee) said to the BBC that previous bans were important due to a lack of knowledge of how mobile devices would interact with aircraft but new data suggests a minimal risk with 5G due to a different set of frequencies, and lower power allowances in the EU.
“What has been found with experience is the risk of interference is very small. The recommendation has always been that once you are in flight, devices should be in airplane mode.“
He added, “There is much less prospect of interference,” and, “We have a different set of frequencies for 5G, and there are lower power settings than those that have been allowed in the US.“
Glenn Bradley (UK Civil Aviation Authority Head of Flight Operations) echoed a similar statement by saying “We understand that plans to enable 5G onboard flights will operate in the higher frequency bands and therefore won’t interfere with aircraft systems,” and “We stand ready to work with the industry to assist the delivery of this innovation.“
5G WiFi on the road
As part of the updated decision, the European Commission has also amended its rules regarding 5G Wi-Fi in road transport. EU member states have until the same deadline as the airlines to make 5G frequency bands available for use with road vehicles.