The Dubai-based carrier said they'll launch mobile phones calls in flight in January 2007: The service will launch on a single Boeing 777 in January. They're signing with Aeromobile, which will receive $27m to equipment its fleet. Aeromobile uses Inmarsat satellite links to provide onboard data services, relayed via a picocell for mobile calls. Emirates currently sees 6,000 calls per month from in-seat flights using what is likely narrowband 1990s technology, such as that used by Verizon AirFone.
The report says that the number of simultaneous calls is limited to five or six, which means that Emirates will be using third-generation Inmarsat equipment. The fourth-generation (4G) system offers several times the bandwidth, and should allow up to dozens of simultaneous calls. However, Inmarsat's launch time for 4G in-flight service is not yet set, but is expected no later than mid-2007, when Aeromobile's competitor OnAir will launch service with Air France and later bmi, TAP, and Ryanair.
The service includes phone calls and text messaging.