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
A passenger checks her cell phone after boarding a flight in Boston.    (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(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."

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Dec 13, 2013 8:26 PM CST
I don't want appx 200 watts of high frequency RF energy bouncing around the inside of my cabin, that's for sure. RF energy is additive and each transmitter adds to the total RF emission. It will be devastating to systems on the ground as they reel with polling requests from hundreds of phones that ping them. I could see it causing a jam to a disaster site on the ground as flights go over the area. Cellular providers would want to figure out a way to filter out and block signals coming from sets going more than 200 mph. That way a private pilot would still be able to use one if he needed to. If this becomes a big problem, I can foresee someone buying a powerful jamming device.
Scaramouche
Dec 13, 2013 11:09 AM CST
" "I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else,"" But when it's the bus, subway, etc., then it's okay?
odowd80
Dec 13, 2013 10:48 AM CST
The FCC is right on. They did their job. Airlines can go ahead and set their own in-flight rules. The FCC doesn't ban smoking on flights, either.