Mobiles set to debut on Australian airways

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Sydney, July 30 (ANI): The communications watchdog in Australia has given the green light for travellers to use their mobiles during flights.

The new ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will bring Australia into line with other countries that have allowed fliers to text, check email and use data during flights.

The ACMA consulted the move with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which has raised no technical objections to the new arrangements.

"The Australian Communications and Media Authority has finalised radio communications licensing arrangements to facilitate mobile communication services on aircraft," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman as saying.

"The licensing arrangements will allow airlines to deploy mobile communication services on their aircraft through special on-board systems, should they choose to do so.

"In developing these arrangements, the ACMA was conscious of the need for harmonisation with aviation safety regulations and the protection of terrestrial communications networks from interference," Chapman stated.

In its submission to ACMA, Telstra said the proposed licensing scheme would artificially restrict mobile traffic to one provider aboard each aircraft and deny Australian consumers access to the country's highly competitive mobile market.

"We would welcome the ACMA and the airlines allowing people to use their mobile devices in flight, but consumers should not be restricted to any one technology or provider," Telstra said.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia, in its submissions, also cited the importance of non-exclusive agreements for carriers.

The ACCC advised that where a genuine safety issue exists, the use of the onboard system to force the handsets to connect only to the onboard base station wouldn't constitute anti-competitive behaviour. (ANI)

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