In-flight calls coming to Norwegian airline

Boeing has previously dabbled with the possibility of internet-enabled planes, but the Connexion system was discontinued

Scandinavian budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle will soon start offering mobile phone and wireless internet services on its flights.

Starting late this year, the Call Norwegian services will include travel information for passengers, broadband telephone services and mobile banking, Reuters reports. The service will be available on board aircraft and at airports, starting with Oslo's Fornebu airport.

"Call Norwegian will be an internet-based mobile telephone company, and the products will be focused on primary mobile telephone services (network service)," Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian Air Shuttle's CEO, said in a statement. "We see it as a natural expansion of our business, and a service that our customers will find useful."

Signal strength

Traditionally, mobile phone use has been banned on planes due to claims that phone signals could interfere with sensitive aircraft equipment. This is because signal strength is increased when a mobile phone can't find an immediately available local signal, as is the case when airborne.

Last year, the US telecoms body - the Federal Communications Commission - said it would drop plans enabling American airline passengers to use their mobiles on flights after deciding that the use of mobile phones in the air would interfere with equipment on the ground.

However, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Qantas, Emirates and Ryanair are all now considering adopting in-flight technology that would enable calls to be made while airborne.

Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa is bringing back internet access to its long-haul flights this year. Before the 11 September attacks in 2001, it fitted out 80 of its planes with internet capabilities using Boeing's Connexion system, but roll-out plans were abandoned in the wake of the terrorist attacks.