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FCC Says Inflight Calls a Go, But DoT Says No

Article Comments  13  

Dec 12, 2013, 4:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Communications Commission today voted 3-2 in favor of lifting the ban that prevents airplane passengers from making cellular voice calls while in flight. The FCC has purview over the techincal limitations, and has decided that today's technologies permit safe, in-flight cellular calls on properly equipped planes. However, the Department of Transportation today said that it is considering a ban on making phone calls from airplanes. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the DoT has heard from various groups, including airlines, flight attendants, and passengers, "who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight—and I am concerned about this possibility as well." The DoT is weighing whether or not to ban the practice of making cellular phone calls from planes, despite the techincal clearance granted by the FAA and FCC. "Being able to logon to text and email is useful for passengers, but it's just unnecessary to have potentially dozens of phone conversations occurring during a flight," said Rep. Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican. "When it comes to mobile devices on planes, tap, don't talk."

Wall Street Journal »



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Dec 12, 2013, 5:28 PM

People seem to forget...

... that once upon a time, you could make phone calls on a plane. The service was Airfone, a division of Verizon (at the time). It was prohibitively expensive (up to $5/min) but I remember using it at least once when I was travelling (to relay changes in my itinerary to my family).

I think that the technical decision should be separated from the etiquette decision. Both the FCC and DoT are technical bodies, and should define their roles as such. If there are no technical reasons to ban cell phone use, they should allow it.

The airlines can, on their own, decide to allow or not allow cell phone conversations in-flight. It is their right, as much as it is the right of theater operators to insist that cell phones be silenced during a perf...
Yes people seem to forget this. Its not been listed in a single of the many reports I read on this topic.

AirPhone in fact also had a $10 add-on plan via Verizon that allowed you to make and receive calls at your seat back phone onboard any flight...
Yup, and I don't remember an outcry when they installed those seatback phones. Cell phones do not and have not ever interfered with any of the avionics on a plane. This ban was always about something else. I too would find it annoying listening to ...

Dec 13, 2013, 12:41 PM

Unnecessary ?

Don't you love it when a government agency tells you what is necessary and what is not?

Of course it's not necessary for there to be dozens of phone conversations on a plane. Not just that - is it even necessary for there to be people on that plane in the first place? Probably not! Nice wording you used there, Bill Shuster.

Is anything really necessary or unnecessary? I don't care about this situation, but their choice of wording is extemely poor. Is it even necessary to have a phone on a plane? Probably not - you'll be alive at the destination whether you have your phone with you or not.

Bravo, Bill. Bravo.

Dec 12, 2013, 5:10 PM

Cuz we all need to hear annoying phone conversations on a plane?

Please ban this, data is one thing, and I'm surprised phones would even work that high up...but it would be really more pleasant for everyone if this was not allowed!
Devices do not work on the land based cellular networks over 9000-10,000 feet. Generally at 5,000 feet they give out but some areore robust.

How does this work then? There are repeaters on the planes that beam the call to satellite which in turn b...
Your obviously one of those people who are hyper sensitive, and way, way too easily annoyed.

Talking on the phone is no better, or worse than talking with the person next to you.
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