It was with initial trepidation that I read the news that mobile phones might be allowed on plane flights around Europe. After all, along with the metro/tube/subway, churches and libraries, Antarctica and deep space, there are few places left that have managed to avoid the encroaching wave of over-loud teenagers, ringtones and sales reps.

But then, here I am on the train. There’s a guy opposite me calling his missus to check on childcare arrangements, the occasional ping of SMS and, somewhere in the background, an ongoing conversation that could be on a phone but I can’t tell. Realistically, perhaps it won’t be so bad.

A major upside is nothing to do with voice at all of course, but with data. Plane travel is both a sanctuary and a frustration, particularly given that it’s an ideal time to catch up on email etc. At least this provides a choice.

The downside is mainly to do with cost – unlikely the operators (or airlines – the system is based around on-board picocells) will feel under to much pressure to offer this as a low-cost facility. Ironically, this could also be to its advantage if it means that the louder-mouthed talkers are more likely to be in the upper class decks.

We’ll have to see how it pans out.


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