Airline launches long-haul in-flight wifi

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The Independent Travel

Oman Air has become the first airline in the world to offer mobile phone service and broadband internet on a long-haul flight.

The company announced this week that passengers can now use wifi internet and their mobile phones on Oman Air A330 flights. The service is currently available on Oman Air's Muscat-London Heathrow route but is planned to be extended to other aircraft.

As soon as the "no mobile" sign is switched off, customers can turn on their mobile phones and join the airline's network before making and receiving calls or text messages as normal. Calls will be charged at roaming rates as if on a foreign network. With wifi access, passengers join a hotspot similar to any public wifi network.

Oman Air and its connectivity partner OnAir claim that "this is the first time in aviation history that an airline offers such an extensive range of services (GSM/GPRS together with wifi internet) at the same time."

British Airways currently uses the OnAir system for cellular coverage on its London City - New York flights, whilst Ryanair is in the process of outfitting its entire fleet with connectivity for mobile phones. In February, US carrier Southwest announced that it will begin rolling out onboard wifi across its 540-strong fleet this year.