European airlines get power to offer 3G and 4G connectivity in-flight

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The European Commission decision could see passengers able to use their smartphones and tablets fully on planes

Smartphones and tablets running on 3G and 4G can now be used in-flight, the European Commission has decided.

Until now only 2G has been permissible on board aircraft flying over the EU, which meant downloading eBooks or watching videos on devices practically impossible.

The new rules mean airlines will decide whether customers can use 3G and 4G in-flight, and do not give passengers the right to request access.

European Commission spokesperson Ryan Heath said: “This EU decision gives airlines to opportunity to allow their customers to use their smartphones and tablets in-flight. We’re saying there is no reason why passengers should be prevented from using their mobiles and their tablets during flights (when the plane is above 3000m). Airlines remain in charge about whether they allow this during their flights or not.

“It’s up to the airlines but I can imagine a number of ways this could work. You could have quiet zones and communications zones, like many trains have today. Or limit the new possibilities to longer flights or to certain periods of the flight – for example to avoid sleep disruption.”

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