Home > Travel - Beyond Malaysia, Travel - Local Spots > GSM Roaming onboard Airasia – Mobile OnAir service is already available!

GSM Roaming onboard Airasia – Mobile OnAir service is already available!

I haven’t learned about the GSM roaming availability onboard Airasia until I overheard the conversation between a cabin crew telling a passenger so. That was during my recent flight back from Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur on 21 July 2010 evening. Curious (and bored), I switched my Nokia 5800 out of its offline mode (i.e. flight mode), and not before long, it connects to OnAir:

GSM Roaming in Airasia flight via OnAir service. It is total coincidence that the song I was listening to at that time was "Fly me to the moon". I was flying back to KL. 🙂

Tried sent a couple of sms’es and able to deliver, and able to receive incoming sms’es too. Did not have any noticeable lag. Did not try to call out though – pretty sure it will work, and more sure that it will cost me a bomb. No idea how much the outgoing sms will cost me, but there will be no charges for the incoming sms. No related mobile roaming information is found in the seat pocket.

Googling the OnAir service brings me to their homepage FAQ: http://www.onair.aero/faqs, which is an interesting read. Airasia is listed as one of its customers using the Mobile OnAir GSM roaming technology, where there is a picocell installed onboard for mobile phones’ radio interfacing, and then signals are routed to ground servers via satellite. There is also an onboard channel selector to prevent the mobile phones from connecting to the ground mobile networks directly. The Mobile OnAir supports only GSM/GPRS but not 3G – good enough for calls and sms’es, as well as basic internet browsing.

Cabin crew reminds that the mobile phones need to be turned off during take off and landing, so other than these periods, the mobile phones can be switched on and connected – as long as your mobile service operator has roaming deal with OnAir. Mine, Maxis, does.

The problem that might arise from this is the ignorant phone users that always speak loudly when on mobile phone, think China passengers, for example. That will be really irritating.

The OnAir has another service too: Internet OnAir – that works via RJ45 connection or Wifi. I didn’t try out the Wifi connectivity (because I didn’t even think about it at all then) but this just-posted Bernama article confirms that Airasia signs up only the Mobile OnAir service from OnAir. So probably no high speed internet browsing for now onboard Airasia, but I will find out soon enough during my next trip in August!

  1. chiy
    August 1st, 2010 at 20:24 | #1

    Oh, didn’t know until recently too.. 🙂 but knowing it more after reading this.. thank you thank you ar.

  1. No trackbacks yet.