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Legally Texting & Calling In The Air
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People who travel frequently in part because of cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages, will likely be happy to learn that soon they may be able to text and make phone calls (when flying internationally) using their smartphones while flying.
A company named “Gogo” has introduced a new service which enables texting and calling while in the air on smartphones. The company hopes its new Text & Talk technology will become popular on passenger airlines during the first quarter of 2014.
Currently Gogo is a major provider of fee based Wi-Fi and digital entertainment on planes. Today its services are available on over 2,000 planes from nine U.S. airlines plus Japan Airlines.
When Gogo’s new service is formally launched in 2014 customers will be able to download the necessary app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store. The app will allow users to send or receive texts in a similar manner to how people make calls and texts on their smartphones today.
Users will be able to summon a dialing pad, or tap contacts names or names inside a recent caller list. To appeal to international travelers, these features will be available in a variety of languages.
To some the prospect of passengers being able to make and receive calls while flying is unappealing given how many people could be talking at the same time and how loud they may be speaking. The voice part of Gogo’s Text & Talk initiative will not be coming anytime soon to American airspace. Gogo’s nine U.S. airline partners have expressed no interest in enabling voice calls because of the social stigma associated with people making calls in the air.
The same is not true on international flights where Gogo says there is a demand for such calling services.
The appeal of texting in the air appears to be substantial. Gogo’s research found that 79 percent of fliers want inflight texting.
The Text & Talk application will be an extension of a GSM or CDMA cellular network that will not require the installation of small cellular stations that planes have previously used to deliver similar services. Smartphone users will be able to roam onto Gogo’s in flight Wi-Fi system in the same manner they roam on a land based cellular network.
Gogo has yet to announce prices for its Text & Talk service. It appears that individual airline partners may price this service differently. Text & Talk is not expected to be bundled with Gogo’s regular inflight Wi-Fi service.
The U.S. government recently relaxed its restrictions on the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Gogo’s new service will not be operable until a plane climbs above 10,000 feet.
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