[SatNews] TAM Airlines today began offering inflight mobile communications through a pioneering partnership with OnAir using its industry-leading, onboard connectivity solutions.
Based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, the high-capacity service is now available to passengers traveling aboard TAM's Airbus A321 operating between Guarulhos, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre. Using OnAir's service, passengers can make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and access the Internet through GPRS networks from their own GSM handsets. TAM's service allows as many as eight passengers to make and receive calls simultaneously on a flight with no limits on data and text messaging. Mobile phones will work in exactly the same way as in international roaming and can be activated as soon as the aircraft reaches an altitude of 4,000 metres (13 thousand feet). Passengers can use their Smartphones onboard to access e-mails or surf the Internet and usage will be charged directly by the mobile network provider to the passenger's phone bill at rates set by his or her usual provider.
TAM Airlines received technical approval from the Brazilian National Agency of Civil Aviation (ANAC) as well as operational certification by the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) prior to installing OnAir's services. The system has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and its use was recently approved by the European Union. Today, TAM has already installed the system onboard an Airbus A321 equipped with 220 seats. The company plans to equip more aircraft on domestic routes with the technology starting in 2011.