There are two areas where British mobile phone customers are silenced, the London Underground ‘tube’ network and on planes. The London Underground has many tunnels that are far too deep for a signal at ground level to penetrate and though the Mayor of London wanted to try getting a signal on the network before the London Olympic games, this plan was found to be too ambitious.
But it will happen eventually, as commuters are demanding the ability to use their phones on the train while deep underground.
Back in the present day though, Virgin Atlantic has announced that by the end of this year it will be possible to use mobile phones on 20 of their planes – including calls, text, and internet availability.
The planes will be fitted with technology that allows each plane to effectively become a roaming mobile phone mast that can offer a signal to anyone on board with a phone.
For some frequent travellers this sounds like a nightmare. Getting on a plane is just about the last place on earth where it is possible to relax and not be disturbed by people loudly talking about their work, so one has to assume that Virgin feels more customers want phone access than the number of customers who will be annoyed by it. Perhaps another airline will make a virtue of being the quietist airline in the skies, offering a ban on mobile phones and noisy iPods?
Personally I would like to maintain the silence, but in any case at £1 a minute for calls, it is unlikely that anyone will be spending the entire flight on the mobile. But at least they can still remain in touch.
Photo by Doug licensed under Creative Commons