FCC Chair Doesn't Want Phones in Air Either, But...

'...we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission' he explains

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2013 1:00 AM CST

(Newser) – A bit of advice for the Federal Communications Commission: Nobody seems to want you to lift your ban on in-flight cell phone use. The Department of Transportation is firmly against the move, as are airlines, flight attendants, and, according to polls, the majority of passengers, the Wall Street Journal finds. Passengers say they would find in-flight calls annoying, flight attendants fear passenger conflict, airlines aren't interested in making the necessary investment, and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx tells CNN that his department is considering introducing its own cell phone ban to protect consumers.

"Flight attendants and passengers are united on this issue—there should be no voice calls in-flight," says the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, warning that the organization will fight to reverse any lifting of the ban. But the FCC says the ban, introduced 22 years ago, has been made obsolete by new technology and there is no technical reason to keep it in place. "I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else," FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler told a congressional hearing yesterday. "But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission. Our mandate from Congress is to oversee how networks function."

A  passenger checks her cell phone after boarding a flight in Boston.
A passenger checks her cell phone after boarding a flight in Boston.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
A traveler on Delta Airlines waits for her flight in Detroit.
A traveler on Delta Airlines waits for her flight in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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