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Binghamton, NY
reply to rradina

Re: it really has nothing to do with the aircraft....

Phones don't transmit while looking for towers, they only transmit during initial registration and when moving between paging areas. Short bursts of communications don't have much of an impact on the overall signal-to-noise ratio of the network. The problem only becomes apparent when the phone is transmitting with a full duty cycle, e.g., while in a call, or engaged in a large data upload.

As for why they don't do it the way he wants, because it would be a foolish waste of money? Retrofitting every single base station in the country and sacrificing precious spectrum to service mobiles on airlines makes no sense. Pico/femtocells on the aircraft would be the way to solve this "problem", if the industry and airlines were so inclined.