Before you freak out about in-air cellphone service, check out the pricing
Whether customers see the service as a benefit probably depends on whether they are one of the executives yammering on a cellphone, or one of the people sitting next to said executive.
Not mentioned in Fried’s story: How much the service costs. Short answer: Enough that there probably won’t be much yammering.
OnAir in-flight mobile service is considered international roaming, and is billed appropriately. (First, your carrier has to have a roaming agreement with OnAir.) This AT&T page suggests OnAir calls are billed at $3.49 per minute, for example. Text messages are $0.50 each. (No sign of any Verizon Wireless agreement/pricing.)
This claim, therefore, that the average communication is two minutes, makes sense. If someone’s going to talk the whole flight, they’re probably upstairs in Emirates’ private suites, anyway. Text messaging and short calls seem to be the main idea — not very annoying.