Plane passengers in the EU could soon be able to use 5G on flights

29 Nov 2022

Image: © dell/

‘The sky is no longer a limit’ as the EU looks to enable 5G on planes and boost Wi-Fi on the road.

The EU is paving the way for people to avail of 5G on their mobile phones while they are travelling by air in Europe.

The European Commission plans to enable the “widespread deployment of 5G services” on aircraft by designating certain frequencies needed to provide the in-flight technology.

Its decision means airlines could soon provide customers with 5G and previous generation connection options, such as 4G, while they are on board a flight in the EU.

The in-flight connection will work in a similar way as it would on the ground. The Commission said passengers will be able to use mobile phones “to the maximum of their capacity and features”, with messaging, call and data services.

The service would be provided within the cabin of the aircraft using special network equipment called a pico cell. This can connect users and route calls, texts and data via a satellite network between the plane and the ground-based mobile network.

“5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies,” said Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the internal market.

“The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity.”

The European Commission has also amended an implementing decision on 5GHz frequency bands, making the bands available for Wi-Fi in road transport.

This means travellers in cars and buses could connect to Wi-Fi while on the move. The Commission said this may influence innovation in the automotive industry and potentially lead to metaverse applications.

It added that EU member states will make the 5GHz frequency bands available for use aboard road vehicles by 30 June 2023 at the latest.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.