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European Commission, Commission Implementing Decision of 12.11.2013 amending Commission Decision 2008/294/EC to include additional access technologies and frequency bands for mobile communications services on aircraft (MCA services) (C(2013) 7491 final) (Nov. 12, 2013) (full-text).


The Commission has adopted new rules that allow the latest wireless communication technology to be used by passengers on board aircraft flying over the European Union.

This means that spectrum for 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) communications may be used above an altitude of 3000 meters. Until now only 2G (GSM) has been permissible on-board aircraft flying in the EU, which is impracticable for sending large amounts of data (for example sending large attachments, downloading eBooks, watching video).

This decision creates the possibility for airlines — rather than a right for passengers — to allow use of smart phones and tablets during flights. But, in order for this service to work, airlines must install specific hardware on board each concerned airplane.