in Wireless

cellular phones and airplane navigation systems

Here’s an interesting tidbit: apparently the use of cellular telephones on board airplanes does not interfere with navigation systems. It does, however, wreak havoc upon base stations when you’re flying past them at 500mph.

I didn’t know this until NewsScan Daily posted it. Here’s the excerpt:

MOBILE PHONES CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF?
Contrary to popular airline lore, mobile phones don’t really interfere with airline navigation systems. The real reason phones are banned during flight is that they disrupt mobile networks on the ground as they zoom from one base-station to the next at 500 miles an hour. But that problem is about to be solved, thanks to new technology that will prevent cell phone signals from leaving the airplane cabin. Instead, a laptop-sized base station, called a “picocell,” will emit a network signal that will enable onboard cell phones to “roam” — eliminating any interference with avionics and terrestrial networks. The new technology is the creation of WirelessCabin, a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center and including members such as Airbus, Siemens and Ericsson. It is designed for cell phones using the European-dominant GSM standard and also supports the popular Wi-Fi protocol. A similar system targeting business jets will be flight-tested this year, and European and U.S. regulatory bodies are developing rules to address the use of wireless devices in flight. Airlines likely will team with wireless carriers or satellite operators to administer the in-flight mobile calling systems, and may try tying the service to their frequent flyer programs, offering members lower rates or flyer miles when they make calls. (The Economist 1 Apr 2004) http://www.economist.com

I have to wonder why we’ve been lied to all these years. Perhaps it’s because it would be too difficult to explain to Random Clueless Guy what the actual problem is.