As a result of the EU Commission updating the implementing decision on spectrum for mobile communications on-board aircraft, designating certain frequencies for in-flight 5G technology, commercial airline companies will soon be able to offer state-of-the-art 5G facilities on their aircraft, together with prior mobile technology generations.

Travellers onboard flights in the EU will be able to use their mobile phones to the maximum of their capacity and features, just like with a ground-based 5G mobile network.

The Commissioner for the Internal market of the EU, Thierry Breton, stated:

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.

The EU Commission's implementing decision has from 2008 retained certain frequencies for mobile communications on airplanes, allowing commercial airline companies to provide messaging, phone calls and data services to travellers flying in the EU. This overhaul of the EU Commission implementing decision on mobile communications on-board aircraft will enable all-encompassing use of 5G facilities.

The service itself is provided in the interior the cabin of an equipped aircraft by means of a special network equipment, the so-called “pico-cell” (a small cellular base station typically covering a small area such as in-building – offices, shopping malls, train stations, etc), to connect travellers and route calls, texts, and data, traditionally via a satellite network, between the airplane and the ground-based mobile network.

An implementing decision on 5GHz frequency bands was similarly updated by the EU commission, enabling Wi-Fi in road transport, for instance in cars and buses. The updated decision will foster innovations in the automotive industry with potential for Metaverse applications. The revision of the implementing decision means that EU Member States must allow the 5GHz frequency bands to be used on road vehicles as soon as possible and in no event later than 30 June 2023.

Find out more about 5G in the EU here.

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