The EU has approved the use of 5G aboard aircraft during flight. In an amendment of its spectrum regulations, the European Commission also opened up the use of Wi-Fi in the 5GHz band for road transport.

Mobile communications using previous generations such as 3G and 4G is already possible in-flight in the EU, and the new decision means airlines will be able to provide the latest 5G technology as well on their planes. The Commission said it updated the implementing decision on spectrum for mobile communications on-board aircrafts, designating certain frequencies for in-flight 5G services. 

Passengers will be able to access messaging, phone calls and data services over 5G while flying in the EU, the same as when on the ground. The service is provided within the cabin using special network equipment, the so-called ‘pico-cell’, to connect the users and route communications typically via a satellite network, between the airplane and the ground-based mobile network.

The Commission said it also amended an implementing decision on 5 GHz frequency bands, making the bands available for Wi-Fi in road transport, for example in cars and buses. The amending decision lays the foundation for innovations in the automotive industry and potentially for metaverse applications, the Commission said. 

EU states are required to make the 5 GHz frequency bands available for use aboard road vehicles as early as possible and at the latest by 30 June 2023.

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