GSM Onboard Services

A picocell operating according to the GSM-1800 standard provides a GSM network (Mobile OnAir) enabling voice telephony, SMS and narrowband Internet access (GPRS). The GSM signal is distributed by a leaky line antenna, essentially a coaxial cable with a slotted shielding through which RF signals are radiated. This coaxial cable is installed above the ceiling panels along the whole aircraft cabin and provides a uniform linear coverage of the aircraft cabin at very low radiation power levels. In order to prevent handsets from connecting to terrestrial networks which would lead to high transmission power levels a so-called network control unit (NCU) installed onboard generates a broadband noise floor which is being emitted through the existing leaky line antenna masking reception of terrestrial mobile networks within the aircraft. These measures ensure that handsets can only connect to the onboard GSM network and will then operate with the lowest possible transmission power level (GSM-1800 power control level 15, nominal output power of 0 dBm) which results in significantly lower radiation levels than those experienced on average when using a mobile phone with terrestrial networks on the ground. The GSM network is being realized based on Monaco Telecom's core network. It uses the MCC / MNC tuple 901-15 assigned to SITA, one of OnAir's two owners, in March 2005.

The service deliverability is subjected to a roaming agreement in place between your own mobile phone or mobile data provider with OnAir service providers. Charges are in line with international roaming rates.

  • Passengers use their mobile phones or smartphones just as they do on the ground
  • Miniature base station picks up the signal
  • Signal is processed by the on-board GSM server
  • Signal is transmitted via satellite
  • OnAir ground GSM infrastructure processes signal and directs passenger traffic to its destination.


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