Mile high communications club

Siemens has signed an exclusive contract with Airbus to jointly develop a solution for the use of in-flight communications via GSM. With the integration of GSM, airline passengers will be able to use their own mobile devices for in-flight phone calls or Internet surfing.

Siemens will provide the GSM technology, while Airbus will take charge of its integration in existing electronics systems. In addition, Airbus will be responsible for marketing the new solution to airlines and for maintenance. The commercial launch of this new customer service is planned for 2006.

The GSM solution will be implemented via a Siemens nanoGSM/GPRS base station attached behind a ceiling panel in the aircraft, which allows reception for a mobile phone, PC or organiser from any seat on the plane.

The Siemens nanoGSM base station, which is said to be the smallest and lightest base station in the world, is based on IP and is linked to the terrestrial GSM mobile network via satellite technology.

An important prerequisite for implementing the solution is the integration of channel selector technology. This technology prevents the end devices from establishing contact with terrestrial networks and hence interfering with the aircraft’s avionics. The new solution will be modular in structure so that it can be expanded to accommodate more GSM capacity and other technologies such as WLAN.