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Virgin Atlantic introduces in-flight mobile calls

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A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400

© PA Images / Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

Virgin Atlantic has become the first airline in Britain to introduce in-flight mobile phone calls, texts and data usage.

The service is being trialled on Virgin's new Airbus A330 route from London to New York, but will be rolled out to other flights by the end of 2012, The Telegraph reports.

Panasonic-owned AeroMobile will power the system, which costs passengers no more than standard data roaming charges. Users are prohibited from using their mobiles during landing and take-off, and US law requires handsets to be switched off 250 miles from American airspace.

British Airways previously introduced texts and data usage on one of its services between London and New York, but does not offer in-flight phone calls. Several US airlines offer WiFi access, though its high cost usually deters customers from purchasing it.

AeroMobile is only offering limited bandwidth, which impose limits on web browsing, but the firm is working on upgrading the service before it is introduced on a wider scale.

The venture is part of a £100 million investment by Virgin, which will also see the introduction of USB ports for passengers to charge gadgets, and improved touch-screen technology for the in-flight entertainment.

Virgin hopes that the service will be accessible on 17 planes on at least ten routes by the end of the year.

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