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Phuket Business: Interfering with the navigation systems

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Phuket Business: Interfering with the navigation systems | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Your aircraft has just landed at Phuket International Airport and out comes the ubiquitous mobile phone, despite the flight crew asking you to keep it switched off until the plane arrives at the gate, because of concerns it may interfere with the aircraft’s avionics, thus endangering all on board.

A familiar scene to everyone arriving on Phuket and particularly in Asia where the leap to connect to the outside world after an hour [such as Bangkok to Phuket], or several hours of enforced non-texting and conversation seems to be an overwhelming urge of life saving proportions.

Dozens of cell phones inevitably light up before the planes has finished taxiing to the gate at Phuket Airport.

Well you ain’t seen nothing yet because the inevitable has arrived – not yet in Thailand – but it will come eventually because of competitive forces.

Mobile phone conversations in flight are feasible, legal and are being introduced by some airlines.

Virgin Atlantic announced in May it will allow inflight personal phone calls, following other airlines such as Malaysia, Emirates and Oman Air.

European airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa are already well down the track.

THAI Airways has not yet announced if it will follow suit, but with the imminent arrival into its fleet of the giant Airbus A380 and the expectations of first and business class passengers on the A380 and on other new aircraft on order, it seems inevitable that THAI will eventually allow inflight calls, if only to remain competitive.

Of course this “advance” in technology and customer service will not be welcomed by all and sundry.

You can imagine some of the conversations: “Do they speak English in Thailand?”, “Kim Kardashian is dating/marrying/divorcing who?”, “This guy I am sitting next to is so creepy and gross. I think he’s recording my conversation.” And so on.

How is this now possible? In short the creation of shielded mini-networks, or picocells, installed in the cabin above the heads of passengers have mitigated concerns over mobile phone use in flight because the calls go over a protected network and do not go bounding off multiple phone towers on the ground.

The picocells act as tiny GPRS cell towers on the plane. Because they are so close to the passengers, mobile phones will only have to emit relatively modest signals because they won’t have to work as hard to secure a network “handshake.” This helps ease concerns over interference with aircraft navigational equipment.

The European Union gave permission to do inflight mobile calls in 2008, but a combination of factors, such as objections from other passengers, the expense of incurring international roaming charges and lingering concerns about safety all held the airlines back, and still do in many cases.

American authorities, for example, still ban such calls.

Theoretically, before the introduction of picocells, electromagnetic interference of the aircraft systems was the most common argument against using electronic devices on planes, such as mobile phones, small walkie-talkies or even radio-controlled toys.

However, many aviation experts have long decried this theory. In fact Boeing, one of the two largest airline manufacturers, undertook a test in response to reports by flight crews that they detected “anomalies” caused by electronic devices. Boeing found there was no “definite correlation between electronic devices and the associated reported airplane anomalies.”

Despite the availability of inflight mobile phone calls, use of them is not likely to be widespread, at least not in the short term until the high cost of making a call comes down.

As one commentator said: “The chances are slim you’ll be stuck with someone blabbing away on your next flight. Unless, of course, you are sitting next to someone with a story to tell and money to burn.”

— Alastair Carthew

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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