Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In a first for Kiwi mobile users, Telecom XT customers en-route to select international destinations around the world now have access to in-flight mobile services.

Telecom has linked with Emirates and Malaysian Airlines to provide roaming services on key flights around the world, including to Australia, Asia, Europe, UK and South America.

The new roaming service gives post-paid XT customers the ability to send and receive calls and texts, and access 2G mobile broadband services such as email.

Niki Chave, Telecom’s Head of Mobile Roaming, says the new service will be particularly useful to New Zealand business travellers because it enables them to stay connected while in the air.

“It works through a combination of mobile phone transmitters on the aircraft and satellite networks. This means XT customers can access the service for the duration of the flight, apart from when their aircraft is landing or taking off.

“The service does not interfere with the aircraft’s navigation systems. It switches on automatically once it reaches 6,000m (20,000 ft) and switches off at 6,000m (20,000 ft) on descent.”

Ms Chave says because in-flight roaming is still a relatively new development and uses technology such as satellite networks, some aspects of it will initially be costly compared to other international roaming services.

“Outward calls from the aircraft are charged at $13 a minute, but only $1 a minute for inward calls. 140 character outward texts are priced at 80c each. Mobile broadband access is $40 per megabyte.

“Although this service is priced at a premium, it’s more affordable than the cost of using an on-craft telephone, and with the additional benefit of being able to send and receive texts and use 2G email service, flyers have more choice.”

The new service currently covers more than 120 scheduled flights across Australia, Asia, Europe, UK, the Middle East, Africa and South America. It is anticipated that more flights will be added as airlines install the required technology on their aircraft.
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