The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has enabled a limited evaluation of GSM mobile phones and GPRS devices on a commercial aircraft.
The evaluation, which is limited to one aircraft for up to 12 months, will be conducted by Qantas.
It will be one of the first implementations of this kind of service in the world.
'The granting of permissions for the evaluation service is the culmination of many months of work aimed at facilitating an industry need,' according to Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman.
'The application to conduct the evaluation touched on a number of ACMA's responsibilities in the radiocommunications and telecommunications regulatory areas.'
To clear the way for the evaluation, ACMA has granted various approvals and exemptions including a carrier licence and a scientific assigned apparatus licence for a network control unit, and two Nominated Carrier Declarations.
The evaluation will be conducted on one Qantas passenger aircraft operating only on domestic Australian routes.
Qantas has decided to commence the evaluation with e-mail and text only, disabling voice services. ACMA and other government bodies will consider the potential for permanent regulatory arrangements for the service once the results of the evaluation are known.