Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Scope Of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Tension is building this week between Mercury and Mars. This will push you to press for the best in a crucial situation or development.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

The perfect plan does not have to be flawless at its inception. Perfection comes if we manage to stick with it even in the face of adversity. Continue to follow your current strategy with confidence.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

A situation recently came to a head, but in so doing it actually brought you the freedom to pursue a cherished goal. The benefits of what has just transpired will soon come rolling in.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Luck is a pleasant phenomenon but a fickle friend. It seems to rely on spontaneity and responds very well to a little wit, ingenuity and adaptability. Cultivate these traits and luck will become a regular visitor.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

In-flight cellphone calls unlikely to fly in Canada
April 08, 2008

Business Reporter

Passengers of European airlines may soon be allowed to talk on their cellphones at 30,000 feet, but so far, there's little evidence the controversial move by regulators will be mirrored on this side of the Atlantic.

The European Union approved a plan yesterday that would allow airline passengers to make and receive calls through an on-board base station, provided the equipment is approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Passengers would be allowed to turn their phones on after the plane reaches 10,000 feet, when other devices such as portable music players and laptops are permitted.

In Canada and the United States, by contrast, regulators currently prohibit the use of cellphones on flights because of concerns the devices could interfere with on-board communications and navigation systems.

However, Transport Canada said yesterday it is considering relaxing the rules slightly to allow passengers to make calls once their plane has landed and is taxiing to the gate.

"The ban is still in full force," said Patrick Charette, a Transport Canada spokesperson. "But in light of the situation in Europe, we're considering allowing the limited use of devices."

While an extra few minutes of talk time after landing hardly qualifies as an inflight wireless service, some in the industry say it's not clear whether Canadians actually want to be subjected to inflight cellphone chatter.

"We've all sat beside somebody on a bus or at a restaurant and listened to their inane conversations," said Richard Bartrem, a spokesperson for Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd.

"Do you really want to sit beside someone on-board an aircraft and be subjected to that?"

Bartrem said WestJet will monitor the developments in Europe, but stressed that the airline places a premium on providing a positive "guest experience."

Similarly, officials at Air Canada and Toronto's Porter Airlines said they were watching industry developments, but had no immediate plans to pursue cellphone services on their aircraft.

In the U.S., meanwhile, a handful of airlines have said they plan to roll out a less intrusive offering: wireless Internet connectivity.

Illinois-based Aircell LLC recently said it won two approvals from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that are needed to launch a Wi-Fi Internet service on American Airlines and Virgin America later this year. The system's backbone is an air-to-ground cellular network that consists of 92 towers deployed across the United States.

JetBlue Airways, meanwhile, is testing a similar wireless service that's provided by its LiveTV subsidiary in partnership with Yahoo Inc. and Waterloo's Research In Motion Ltd.

Such services have been licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which also prohibits use of cellphones on flights because they can interfere with networks on the ground.

Charette said it's possible Transport Canada might revisit its wireless ban, but so far the country's airlines have shown little interest.

Indeed, it has only been relatively recently that air carriers around the world have expressed much of an interest in offering passengers inflight wireless connections.

Aircraft-manufacturer Boeing Co. shut down its Connexion business two years ago, after failing to drum up enough business among airlines for its satellite-based Internet service.

As well, Verizon said late last year that it would discontinue its Airfone service by the end of 2008 unless it came to an agreement with JetBlue's Live TV unit to take over the operation.

With files from the Star's wire services

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