Singapore Airlines to Allow Cell Phones, Texting In-Flight

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Singapore Airlines says it will soon offer passengers the option of staying connected at 35,000 feet, including via cell phone.

Passengers will be able to make and receive voice calls, send text messages with GSM-compatible phones and send and receive messages on Smartphone and Blackberry devices, the airline says.

The carrier has signed a multi-million deal with in-flight connectivity provider OnAir, and plans to debut onboard communication options which also include access to Wi-Fi, as early as the first half of next year.

The program will be introduced on the carrier's A380, A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Singapore Airlines was the first to launch Internet in-flight in 2005, officials say. The move now is to keep customers further connected.

"The environment that our customers have gotten used to on the ground can soon be replicated in the air, when they fly with Singapore Airlines on aircraft fitted with this new connectivity platform," says Senior Vice President Product & Services, Mr. Yap Kim Wah.

There was no word on how fellow passengers can avoid sitting next to someone yapping on the phone.

Cell phone use is still banned on U.S. flights.

The carrier says passengers using the mobile services will be billed by their telecommunications provider at international GSM roaming rates. Internet access will be available for a yet-to-be-determined fee.

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