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High-Wire Act

When can we use our cell phones in the air, already?

Can your cell phone fly? It's a timely and controversial question, according to Terry Wiseman, publisher of the in-flight entertainment newsletter Airfax.

By the end of this year, at least three airlines-Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines-will offer on-board Internet connections. And soon after that, airlines could begin testing systems that would allow you to use wireless devices while the aircraft is in flight.

The possibility that electronic interference may affect an aircraft's navigational system remains a major concern in the airline industry and a roadblock to widespread freedom to use cell phones. Until airlines resolve the issue, business travelers will have to be content to check e-mail from their laptop computers or from one of the in-flight entertainment systems.

"It's spooky territory," says Wiseman. "Everyone is working hard to make sure nothing happens [to compromise safety] when these systems are installed."


Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at www.elliott.org.

Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High-Wire Act.

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