Has Telecommunications Come to its Biggest Barrier Yet?

With Malaysia Flight 370 Still Missing, Telecommunications Becomes Helpless

Flight 370After a week of thorough investigation, the conclusion has been made that someone turned off the communication and tracking systems on Flight 370. With many of the passengers cell phone devices still turned on and with calls going through, skepticism started to arise. With digital technology being as advanced as it is, we would think that through telecommunications, evidence would start to appear. Well, telecommunications experts beg to differ.

The odds that the passengers’ cell phone data will help locate the missing jet is slim to none. As many people assume that smartphones are lucrative tracking devices, without accurate transmission towers, mobile communications is not feasible. With that many mobile devices such as phones, Ipads, laptops, etc. one would think that some sort of signal would appear. Not so much.

According to Ritch Blasi, senior vice president for mobile and wireless at the consulting firm Comunicano, “Apps like Find My iPhone only function properly when a phone is able to receive a location signal from a GPS satellite and relay that signal via cell connection or Wi-Fi to those who are searching for it.”

However, the use of telecommunications on an airplane changes significantly when in the air. Even if some passengers on the flight kept their phones on and not on airplane mode, it would be nearly impossible for their phones to connect to a tower because of the speed of the plane. Another important factor to consider is that the plane was flying over the ocean while it vanished, reducing the odds even more.

According to Charles McColgan, chief technology officer for the mobile identity firm TeleSign says, “that while investigators might be able to determine the last cell tower that cellphones had contact with before the plane started flying over water, if the plane was flying above 10,000 feet at the time, the phones on it wouldn’t be able to make a connection with a tower.”

The fact that there still is no signal from Flight 370 is incomprehensible. With our digital world as advanced as it is, the telecommunications sector needs to overcome this obstacle or at least have a pretty good explanation of what and why this occurred.