FCC Chairman Is Against Plans For Cellphone Use On Flights

The FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has said that he opposes plans to allow cellphones to be used on flights in the US. A ban has been in place for around 22 years to prevent travelers from making in-flight calls. The FCC said in 2013 said it would consider lifting the ban, enabling travel to fully use their smartphones while the plane was in the air. However, these proceedings are now to be terminated immediately according to the Chairman, who recently also criticized net neutrality calling it "a mistake."

Mobile phone use on US airlines was originally banned by the FCC because of concerns that it would affect ground stations, effectively jamming them and causing serious danger to airplanes. In 2013 they said that as a result of modern technology, it would now be safe for passengers to use their devices to make calls during flights, along with potentially permitting the use of other devices such as iPads. In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration started to permit the use of electronic devices during take-off and landing, leading many to assume that full cellphone use would also soon be allowed. This has now effectively been quashed, with Ajit Pai stating he doesn't believe allowing calls on flights is in the public's interest and that he "stands with airline pilots, flight attendants, and the American flying public" against the plan.

Some travelers don't want the ban on cellphones in-flight to be lifted, pointing out that they enjoy the "respite" from calls and texting while flying, and fear they will be forced to overhear loud conversations and cellphones constantly ringing if the ban was to be lifted. However, Michael Planey, co-founder of H&M Planey Consultants, a consulting company which specializes in new technology in the travel industry, points out that cellphones have been used in-flight for quite some time now on many airlines in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and that the issues that people are concerned about haven't really been a problem in those regions after in-flight calls were allowed. He puts this partly down to the cost which can be fairly steep, with many airlines charging between $2-$5 per minute for calls, leading most people to simply use their phones for texting.

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