While the U.S. may be having some hang-ups when it comes to using cell phones during flights, the EU is getting ready to allow it. Not wholeheartedly, as there are still some reservations on the matter, but they have introduced new rules to allow for cell use during flights.
The Commission cites a need for regulation in providing such services and openness enough that will make operators be transparent and innovative on their price offerings. They added that people receiving massive phone bills for in-flight calls will result in the service not going anywhere. The proposed concept is to have an on-board cellular network which then relays to the ground. This will allow for phones to remain in low-power transmit modes, enough so that there won't be concerns with the phones interfering with the electronics of the airplane.
But perhaps an even larger challenge will be created once people are allowed to make calls, and excessively noisy passengers start to annoy those sitting nearby. The EU has not commented on regulations for that kind of likely scenario.
The service is expected to be available on a few flights beginning this year.