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Calling Virgin travellers

Virgin flyers make mobile phone calls during flights

Mobile phone addicts can breathe a sigh of relief. Your mum, wife, or boss can now reach you on your mobile phone while you're in the air.

At least, they can if you fly Virgin Atlantic and are signed up with a UK-based mobile phone operator.

Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced the availability of "Earth Calling," which lets travellers use their own wireless service for calls made and received during flight.

And Virgin isn't stopping with phone calls. By 2002, Virgin planes will include in-flight entertainment systems with e-mail, Internet, and intranet access, as well as 200 hours of on-demand video.

To use Earth Calling, you'll need to have a Global System for Mobile communications phone from a European carrier such as BT Cellnet, Orange, or Vodafone.

Developed by British Telecom, Earth Calling begins with your mobile network provider. Once connected, it issues you a Mobile Connect card that you swipe into the handset on the plane. Callers can then dial your regular mobile number to reach you, and all calls are charged to your account.

In addition to the normal rate charged by your service provider, users pay a fee for ground-to-air calls.


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