Mexican authorities to allow mobile phone calls on commerical flights

Good news! The Mexican FCC just canceled directive NOM-019SCT3-2001!

Sure, I’ll forgive you if you have no idea what this means (I didn’t either at first). The directive was a 2001 piece of law banning the use of mobile phones on commercial planes.

This means passengers will be legally permitted to yap away on their phones during “certain phases” of flight. The source article does not mention what those “certain phases” are, but it is probably just a way of saying you can use your phone after the take off and landing phase.

There is of course one small snag in this plan – no Mexican carriers actually offer inflight calling technology, and once you get above 10,000 feet, you won’t be in range of any cell towers. That said – it is probably just a matter of time till the airlines start seeing Peso bills, and install the equipment required to make calls. Other airlines that introduced inflight calling, did so with rates of about $4 per minute. You thought $12.95 for WiFi was too much? Try paying $20 for a call back home telling people what a great time you are having.

So far, US law still prohibits the use of mobile phones in flight, and if US Congressman Peter DeFazio has his way, that isn’t about to change any time soon. His ridiculously named ‘Hang-Up act” (Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace) is trying to convince the FCC that removing the ban will kill air travel for everyone.

So dear readers, what do you think of inflight mobile phone calls?

%Poll-32293%

(Via: Engadget)

AT&T works on travel transparency

iPhone abroadHave AT&T? Going somewhere out of the continental United States? Click here to find out exactly what it’ll cost you.

Phone companies have a filthy habit of not being terribly transparent with their mobile plans or landlines, i.e. you have all these fees and taxes you don’t expect on your bill, you aren’t sure what roaming costs and whether you’re doing it, and you never seem to know what you’re going to be charged for calling a random foreign country — or calling from a random foreign country.

I don’t have AT&T and sometimes I send text messages to Norway, and I swear it’s cost me something different every time. It bet costs my friend nothing to text back — it’s probably included in her insurance (darn Norwegians have it so good). (I’m just kidding.)

In any case, AT&T has taken some guesswork out of travel fees. You can visit their site and build yourself a whole itinerary of countries in which you’ll be using one of their phones and specify which phone, or even select the phone you are considering getting and the countries you’re going to. The site will immediately tell you whether or not they have coverage in that country for voice and/or data — they have voice coverage in over 215 countries and data in over 170, which is more than anybody else. They also have voice and data on over 130 cruise ships and 3G in 80 countries.

So, they tell you whether or not voice and data are available, and then you can click a little “details” button and they’ll tell you how much it’s gonna cost to communicate there. Straight up. That’s darn near enough to make me pay the $200 to get out of my current contract. You can also pay AT&T $5.99 per month for their World Traveler plan, which provides discounts on all those little premiums. If you travel a lot, that’ll save you bank.

Here are some additional tips for saving money when traveling abroad no matter who your carrier is:

  • Turn off your data roaming.
  • Use WiFi instead of 3G, GPRS, or EDGE when possible
  • Turn off the auto-check e-mail function
  • Reset your usage tracker to 0 when you get there so you’ll know what you’re spending
  • Don’t go downloading photos and watching YouTube, fool — it’s gonna cost you!

They’ve got international data plans if you need your YouTube fix. Seriously, AT&T wants you to travel. So: www.att.com/travelguide. It’s totally worth your while — and that’s a hint to step it up, other mobile service providers!

Gadling Review: Traveldodo mobile city guides

We like to play around with mobile phones here at Gadling. They’re becoming one of the more invaluable tools for the on-the-go traveler, both domestically and abroad. Recently we were introduced to a website called Traveldodo, an online travel review site that offers an extensive selection of free mobile travel guides for cities across Europe.

Free mobile guides you say? We decided to take Traveldodo’s suggestion, download a free mobile guide to Barcelona and see for ourselves how it worked. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Extensive selection – Traveldodo offers city guides for more than 100 cities across Europe, including everything from Barcelona to Reykjavik to Istanbul
  • Free Download – the guides are free to download and don’t require a wireless connection to read. You will however pay a charge from your wireless carrier (typically around $1-2 depending on your carrier) if you don’t have a data plan. Take note.
  • City Info – the info within Traveldodo’s guides covers Things to do, Food and drinks, Places to sleep, City info, and Country info, as well as a special section where users can submit their own tips for inclusion in future versions.
  • Compatibility – the guides are designed to work with lots of different phones, meaning you don’t need an iPhone in order for it to work. Traveldodo claims most phones after 2006 to be compatible.

Overall, we like Traveldodo’s concept and their utility, though the guides themselves still have some rough spots. Downloading was easy enough – users simply point their browser at the address of their desired city listed here. Despite two tries we could not get the app to work on a Blackberry, which was a troubling sign, but did get the Barcelona guide downloaded on a Sony Ericsson device.

Having visited Barcelona a few times, we took a look through the guide’s listing of Things to do, Food and drinks and City info. The information was certainly useful, though frequent travelers might find it to be a bit basic. One feature that was particularly interesting was the Submit Do/Don’t, which allows users to add their own tips to Traveldodo’s database by email or SMS. This collaborative feature, along with the app’s free download price and extensive range of cities make Traveldodo mobile city guides worth a second look. Check one out if you’re heading to Europe anytime soon.

Rentobile lets you rent the hottest mobile phones

When it comes to mobile phones, there really are only 2 kinds of users – those that buy a phone and use it until the tape holding it together finally gives up, and those that consider their phone to be part of their fashion ensemble, requiring a new phone every 2 months.

Sadly I have to admit that I’m one of the latter – I’ll swap my phone out for a new one in anything from 2 weeks to 2 months, but rarely will I be happy with my purchase for more than a couple of months. Not because the phone sucks, but because the damn phone companies keep releasing something newer (and better) at a frantic rate.

Of course, this silly hobby is quite expensive, so when I came across Rentobile, I couldn’t help wonder whether they have finally cracked the code to keeping us phone freaks happy (and solvent).

Rentobile appears to be Netflix for phone lovers. You add a phone to your wishlist, and when one becomes available, they’ll ship it to you. You then continue to use it until you are bored with it, or until the next best super phone pops up on their site.

Rental rates are between $20 and $50 a month, and their lineup includes top sellers like the T-Mobile G1, the Blackberry Bold and Storm smartphones and the Verizon Touch Pro.

Rental rates are different for members and non members. For example; the Nokia N95 costs $42 per month for non members, or $28 per month for members. Membership starts at $5 per month when prepaid for an entire year.

The site itself could use a little polishing, and most of the bestselling phones are currently “not available”, but the concept seems brilliant so I wish them all the luck in the world in making this a huge success.

(Via Engadget Mobile)

Keytoss offers one-stop-shopping travel tools for mobile web users

If you have ever tried to access up to date travel information on the road, then you’ll really appreciate a new site called “KeyToss“.

Mobile web users can access several sources of information on one handy page. The site has flight status updates, a translation tool, snow conditions and even real-time currency exchange rates.

Because the site is designed to be lightweight, you won’t run up a huge data bill if you use it abroad, nor should it take too long to load if you find yourself stuck outside the comfort of a 3G coverage area.

In addition to these travel tools, you can also access 1000’s of news sources, sports scores, stock quotes and the weather.

Once you start using KeyToss, you’ll really appreciate the more advanced features, including a file transfer tool and a mobile search engine with instant access to things like package tracking and song lyrics!

I’ve seen quite a few mobile portals in recent years, but this one is a keeper – it is fast, simple and easy to customize. To use KeyToss, simply point your mobile browser towards m.keytoss.com, there is no software installation required, and it will work on any phone with a mobile web browser. Best of all, it is all free of charge!