Can You Hear Me Now? FCC Proposes Plan for Airplanes and Cellphones

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( — December 12, 2013) Washington, DC — On Thursday, Deceember 12, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission opened up for public comment a new rule to possibly expand access to mobile wireless services onboard aircraft.


The proposal suggested by the FCC begins the process of attempting to keep pace with today’s (and hopefully tomorrow’s) technology by removing outdated government rules and regulations. The goal is to place control with where it belongs – the consumer and airlines.


Right now it’s just a proposal and it’s already taking some heat.


First of all, the FCC will collect and carefully review consumer and technical input before taking any final action.


Secondly the suggested new rules will continue the ban on cellular service in-flight on planes unless the aircraft is equipped with new specialized onboard equipment.


New onboard access systems have been developed to keep signals from mobile devices from interfering with ground based networks. The interference was one of the chief reasons that the FCC dis-allowed cell phone use on planes more than two decades ago.


Other countries currently allow the use of cell phones and airlines have utilized the flexibility of these new systems.


Because airlines could (and probably should) block or otherwise control voice calls, it is now possible to program a system to allow texting, email and Web access – but not voice calls.


Airline travelers could look forward to using their mobile devices in-flight to check e-mails or surf the Web, but maybe the right thing to do is to make sure people on board are not stuck listening to loud phone conversations in-flight.