International Telecommunication Union   ITU
 
 
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 Thursday, September 29, 2005
ITU has assigned an international numbering code that will be used by the inflight passengers communications company OnAir, in order to offer an inflight mobile telephony service.

For the first time passengers will be able to benefit from being able to use their mobile phones and PDAs’ GSM and GPRS functionality while inflight. The service will be available to all subscribers with roaming contracts.

The ITU-T E.164 number code is required in order to route subscribers’ calls and data to/from the passengers’ home networks. In addition ITU-T has assigned to OnAir a shared mobile country code (MCC), and network code (MNC). The MCC is part of the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number, which uniquely identifies a particular subscriber, and is stored on a user’s SIM card. These numbers are assigned according to ITU-T Recommendation E.212.

bmi and TAP Portugal will trial the service, an initiative by OnAir, a joint venture with Airbus and SITA.

Onboard equipment developed by Airbus, with its partners, for OnAir will use existing technology but will have to gain an airworthiness certificate and telecoms regulatory approval before its launch.

The service will be available on both long- or short-haul fleets and on both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. OnAir sources said that it is mainly business passengers that have led the demand for the service.

The system comprises of pico cells on board, connected via a satellite link to a ground GSM/GPRS roaming platform.