Plane passengers in the EU will soon be able to use 5G on flights

Plane passengers in the EU will soon be able to use 5G on flights

The EU has reversed a decision from 2008 that reserved the frequencies needed for 5G to work in the air, as well as on roads and rail lines.

The European Commission has said it will soon be possible for people to avail of 5G technology while they are traveling by road or by air in Europe.

The Commission designated certain frequencies needed to provide the in-flight 5G technology last week. Its decision means airlines can provide customers with 5G and other previous generation connection options, such as 4G, while they are on board a flight.

The in-flight connection will work to a similar level as it would on the ground. The service will be provided within the cabin of the aircraft using special network equipment to connect the users and route calls, texts and data typically via a satellite network between the plane and the ground-based mobile network.

The EU’s announcement is part of its wider plan to make 5G technology widely available for all. Since 2008, it reserved the frequencies that 5G tech needed to work in the air meaning airlines could only provide limited mobile services to customers on flights.

Commenting on the decision to reverse the 2008 model, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal market, said “The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity.”

“5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies.”

The Commission also amended an implementing decision on 5GHz frequency bands, which makes the bands available for Wi-Fi in road transport.

This means travellers in cars and buses will be able to connect to the internet. The decision could influence innovation in the automotive and metaverse industries.

EU Member States aim to make the 5GHz frequency bands available for use aboard road vehicles by by 30 June 2023 at the latest.

Previous 5G roll-out plans have been derailed by the pandemic. In 2016, the EU agreed to make 5G available across the region by 2020.

Last year, a telecoms industry report said that the EU lagged behind Asia and the US when it came to investment in 5G.

Boston Consulting Group and European telco lobbyists ETNO said that up to €300bn needed to be invested in the roll-out.

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