China’s top national carrier Air China has rolled out free in-flight wifi for its passengers. But while it supports being used on laptops and tablets…it has banned its wifi from being used by smartphones. [China bans use of mobile phones on flights, even in airplane mode].

The first ever flight to use this new system was yesterday’s CA4108 between Beijing and Chengdu. [The service is] limited to domestic Air China flights.

ECNS: Once the service becomes available [fully], they will be able to browse a selected set of news portals on board the company’s aircraft with their laptops or tablet computers…However, mobile phones will not be included in the system because they have too many signal emissions that can substantially affect the electronic systems on an aircraft…The service will begin only after the jetliner is at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters, so it will not be available during takeoff and landing, Zhang said.

The current narrowband access can allow up to 80 passengers to use the Internet simultaneously, he added.