US regulators aim to keep the ban on in-flight phone calls

Posted April 14, 2017

His statement said that he stands with other people (including pilots, flight attendants, and the flying public in general) in going against this "ill-conceived 2013 plan". The FCC and the FAA have toyed with the idea of allowing passengers to use their phones to make calls during flights in the past, but it seems that those plans have since been killed.

The FCC opened the proposal to public comment but took no subsequent action, and now FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he wants to see the plan dropped altogether.

Former FCC chairman voted 3-2 in 2013 to eventually allow phone use in airplanes. The Transportation Department received similarly acrimonious comments about the plan, and previous year floated a proposal that would require airlines to tell consumers if, in the future, they could be "exposed" to voice calls. The commission would still need to vote in order to permanently keep the ban in place.

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If the proposal of Wheeler was approved, individual airlines would decide on how and when to install equipment in aircraft to support in-flight service.

According to ARS Technica, the FCC has forbidden in-flight phone calls way back in 1991 because of apprehensions about intervention with wireless networks on the ground.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changed its mind regarding a ban that would have reversed the use of cell phones on planes.

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In a 2014 analysis about inflight calling, the travel industry site Skift noted that providers of inflight Wi-Fi services such as OnAir can already enable voice calling, but airlines can choose to disable voice services. Eventually the DoT also began leaning in the direction of allowing voice calls. No federal regulations now govern Wi-Fi calls during flights, although most USA airlines prohibit all voice calls. Many argued that the ban relaxation will result in passengers disturbing with noisy phone calls.

For example, US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in December 2013 that his department would consider imposing its own ban on in-flight calls.

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