Qantas to test in-flight SMS

The Australia-based airline gets the green light to start testing in-flight mobile phone services, but voice services will be disabled.

Australia-based airline Qantas has been given the green light to start testing in-flight mobile phone services, but voice services will be disabled. The Australian Communications and Media Authority gave the thumbs-up late Wednesday to a limited evaluation of GSM mobile phones and GPRS devices, but only for one commercial aircraft. According to a Qantas spokesperson, the three-month trial will involve a Boeing 767 plying between domestic capital cities.

Qantas has decided to limit the pilot to e-mail and text, and disable voice services. The spokesperson said once the e-mail and SMS evaluation ends, Qantas will decide if voice calls should be tested. Qantas said passengers wanting to send or receive an SMS will need international roaming activated, and a GSM mobile phone. To send or receive e-mail messages, a GPRS-enabled device would do. Telstra, Panasonic Avionics and AeroMobile will be part of the exercise.

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