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Boeing 747-8, Dreamliner get prepped for cell phone use

The aviation giant says that its biggest planes will support cellular calling as soon as 2013. Of course, whether you can actually make calls will be up to government officials.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental takes off on its initial flight on March 20, 2011. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Passengers aboard Boeing's flagship 747-8 Intercontinental, as well as its 787 Dreamliners and 777s will have the capability to make cell phone calls as soon as 2013, the aviation giant said today.

As part of the company's move to boost connectivity on the most modern planes in its fleet, it plans to outfit them so that they can support cell phone usage, as well as Wi-Fi, live television, and "Internet access using in-flight entertainment."

Boeing said its planes should also support wireless streaming media by 2014.

Of course, whether airlines actually allow passengers to use cell phones while in flight will be up to the governments of the countries the planes are in and over. In the United States, for example, such activity is banned by the Federal Aviation Administration, which has given no indication that it might relax the restrictions.

Still, many people suspect that there are no real safety problems associated with using cell phones aboard passenger planes, an idea supported by a New York Times story last fall.