U.S. FCC moves one step closer to lifting ban on use of cellphones on airplanes

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 today to initiate a period of public comment about its proposal to remove the ban on the use of mobile phones in airplanes,” Roslyn Layton reports for Tech Policy Daily. “This is not to be confused with the recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruling deciding that portable electronic devices no longer have to be powered down during landing and takeoff and can be used in all phases of flight (except to make calls).”

“The FCC’s proposal concerns mobile operations above 10,000 feet and whether they impact terrestrial networks,” Layton reports. “As FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler has noted, there is no technical issue that interferes with the safety of fliers, ‘When the rationale for a rule doesn’t exist, the rule shouldn’t exist.'”

“To be clear, the default which will remain is that phones can’t be used in flight. In order to initiate the service the airline would need to (1) create its own policy allowing mobile service and (2) install the requisite equipment that makes mobile communications possible,” Layton reports. “The Chairman observed that unless rulemaking goes forward, not even text or data services will be allowed, let alone voice. What airlines decide to do to serve their customers could take a variety of forms, from banning calls outright, to allowing only quiet communication, creating call zones, or a number of other possibilities.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

If implemented, headphones (to block out the insipid, mindless yammering from the doofus/ditz next to you) are going to be even more of an absolute necessity than they are today.

Related articles:
Yapping seatmates a hurdle in FCC plan for inflight cellphone calls – November 22, 2013
U.S. FCC to propose allowing cellphone use on airplanes – November 21, 2013


  1. This is one ban that I don’t mind at all. Gawd help us if phone calls are allowed on planes. Theoretically, the carriers will realize this and not allow phone calls during flight even if they are approved.

    1. Have you ever tried to get a signal on a plane? Other than the 10 minutes before/after takeoff/landing you cannot get a signal (cell towers broadcast out, not up). Essentially all it will do is allow you to say “my plane’s in the air” or “we’re about to land”. You won’t be able to have conversations more substantial than that. Nor will you be able to stream Netflix at 35,000 ft.

  2. Those who want to use their mobile phones for calls on flights should be sealed in soundproof capsules so others don’t have to listen to their conversations. Other than that, I’m all for allowing smartphone and tablet use on flights if it’s safe.

  3. Hey MDN, the trouble with headsets or earplugs is folks will not here anything important. Such as safety information. Better to also allow air marshall to use their handguns if the phone thing is allowed. A couple of well placed shots would shut up all but the most ignorant phoners.

  4. I maintain a somewhat accommodating attitude. I won’t mind other passengers talking on their phones during a flight as long as they take the conversation outside.

  5. While the FCC may say it’s ok, there is absolutely no way the airlines will allow phone calls on a plane. Can you imagine the fights that would break out? All this does is at least allow us to use our devices from start to finish, and perhaps finish a call as the plane is taxiing. I always found it ridiculous that this wasn’t lifted a while ago.

  6. So I am sitting in the Sistine Chapel yesterday. Some American woman is talking to her male companion about something her father-in-law did. I finally said politely “shhh, please!” A and she immediately whipped out her Samsung typing messages while it made its stupid keyboard noise. I can’t imagine how an imbecile with money like this that has the poor taste not to be in awe at arguably the most beautiful art in the world is going to have a lick of common courtesy on an airliner! Most people seem to have been raised in barns with cows these days. I hope the airlines will be able to filter the cellphone-armed animals by their barnyard behavior before they get on a plane and keep them away from those of us that still have more than an iota of respect for others (I guess my parents weren’t cows!)

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