FCC To Delay Flight Of Cell Phones

from the grounded dept

For a few years now, there's been a growing push to allow the use of mobile phones on airplanes. Both the FAA and FCC have been looking into the matter, with the FAA worried about interference with flight instruments, and the FCC concerned at how phones would interfere with ground networks. There's been a lot of research into both of these aspects, some of it less than convincing. But now, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is apparently going to recommend the commission drop its tentative plan to move forward and allow in-flight phone use, after tests have shown that even with the use of on-board picocells (tiny base stations), phones on planes can still interfere with cellular networks on the ground. The head of AirCell, the company that would provide the in-flight service and relay the calls to the ground, says that the interference issues can be worked out, but this is a line the industry has been touting for a while. Still, he notes that a bigger obstacle for the company to overcome is social a one, since many people have no interest in sitting next to somebody chattering away on their phone during a flight. The CEO says that the company will now focus instead on delivering in-flight Internet access, an idea that many people are interested in, but hasn't yet worked in the market.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:22am

    In=flight internet + VOIP = In-flight cell phones irrelevant.


    And how long after they launch in-flight internet will people be bitching about other passengers viewing "inappropriate" web sites in-flight?

     

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      Apennismightier, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:52pm

      Re:

      1. by Anonymous Coward on Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:22am

      In=flight internet + VOIP = In-flight cell phones irrelevant.


      And how long after they launch in-flight internet will people be bitching about other passengers viewing "inappropriate" web sites in-flight?

      ------------------------------------------------------
      Nobody is going to view porn when sitting next to a complete stranger when they're stuck there for an extended period of time. Only a moron like you would think of such a thing because you'd probably do it.

       

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        Sanguine Dream, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re:


        Nobody is going to view porn when sitting next to a complete stranger when they're stuck there for an extended period of time. Only a moron like you would think of such a thing because you'd probably do it.


        1.There a lot of people that are into the idea of knowing other people are watching them.

        2.What better way to scare someone into being quite than by playing torrent of a mature, interracial, three-way with a facial finish?

        3.Who says that all "inappropriate sites" are porn? Yes porn in public is considered inapporopriate by most people but just like all those legislative pushes to legally ban inappropriate games who decides the standard of inappropriate? With the way people are these days a watching the person in the next seat look at a site that promotes a religion different from their own would called "inappropriate".

         

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    BTR1701, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:24am

    The Hell of Cell Phones

    > Still, he notes that a bigger obstacle
    > for the company to overcome are
    > social issues, since many people have
    > no interest in sitting next to somebody
    > chattering away on their phone
    > during a flight.

    Absolutely. People drive me nuts with these things. I already can't enjoy a meal at a restaurant or go to a movie without having to listen to one inane phone conversation after another. (And even when people aren't talking on them, they're still annoying in places like dark movies theaters, when they open them up to read their text messages and the screen light shines like a beacon throughout the theater.)

    Planes are the one place where we are blessedly free from this ridiculous addiction to talking on the phone and I hope to god it stays that way. From the lack of legroom to the obligatory kid kicking your seat and baby squalling for hours, there's already more than enough to annoy you on a plane. Please, dear lord, don't add a teenager and her cell phone to the mix.

     

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      Casper, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:39am

      I agree to a point

      There is no reason to be talking on a cell phone in flight. People are oblivious to the fact that no one else wants to hear their idiotic discussions. This goes for businessmen as well. When I was on call, I never took calls when I was in a theater or at dinner. I used the phone like a pager, they would call, it would vibrate, I would slip out and check the number of who called and listen to the message if they left one. If you want to conduct business, then you should do it before or after the flight.

      On the other hand, I have no problems with people text messaging if they have their ringer turned off (and they are not in a theater as you mentioned). In a theater it's annoying, but on a flight, I don't see why people can't check their email and text quietly. There have been times I would have really liked to be able to whip out my phone and let people know I was going to land earlier or later then scheduled, or to get something specific ready for when I got there. I could have done this by email or instant message and never bothered anyone with it.

       

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      Brad, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:05pm

      Re: The Hell of Cell Phones

      amen brother.

       

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    Dewy, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:32am

    9/11

    I am reminded of someone who was ridiculed when they pointed out the "cell calls" from the hijacked aircraft (on 9/11) could not have taken place. Probably not relevant to your story... but noteworthy just the same.

     

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    Magicdiablo, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Money

    You do realize that it's not so much an issue with interferance, but how to make people spend money to use their in-flight phone which of course is expensive as hell. If you add the internet into the equation, they are going to bank a shit load of money, because most people are more concerned about their e-mail then they are about how much it costs to get that e-mail. It all boils down to money.

     

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      Sanguine Dream, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:46am

      Re: Money

      Very true. The reason inflight cellphones and/or internet haven't been deployed large scale is because the providers haven't figured out how to maximize profit from it. Now I agree that a busniess should do what it can to maximize profit but don't trot out some nonsense about why something isn't ready yet to cover your ass. I would be for inflight internet but I am again inflight cellphones or the use of a VoIP service like Vonage.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:49am

    A few points:

    There are vast swaths of the American west that have no cell coverage. Look at a coverage map of Nevada, Utah, Nebraska or Wyoming. Besides the cities and the highways there's not much coverage. Airliners don't follow US80.

    Until the avionics manufacturers certify that each individual model of cellular handset does not interfere with their avionics then the airlines insurance companies are going to be loathed to cover the airlines. If there's no insurance coverage, there will be no cell phones allowed.

     

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    Blabbermouth, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:02am

    Cell phone usage

    You wouldn't like it if I were talking on a cell phone while I'm on a plane?

    I don't like your talking to the person in the seat next to you. I don't like the constant tap tap tap on the keyboard of your laptop, or the brightness of your display. I don't like your annoying laugh while you are watching the in flight movie. I don't like the way you wiggle in your seat jostling me while you play your video game. I don't like your squalling brat who thinks kicking my seat is fun. I don't like your farting.

    At least we agree on something, it IS all about YOU. YOU are just as annoying as all the other annoying people.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:12am

      Re: Cell phone usage

      Thank you, man. There are lots of annoying things on a plane and cell phones _arent_ one of them.

      In fact theres lots of annoying things everywhere, and cellphones arent one of them. I laugh at people who rage at cell phone usage in restaurants. Do they rage at conversations? Rowdy parties? Whats the difference? A cell phone is half the noise as a two party conversation.

      The real problem is your brain recognizes that a person talking to himself is a crazy man--a dangerous threat--and you are constantly alarmed by it. Except some of us have a flexible enough brain to inure ourselves to it. Maybe you should try that.

       

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        Robert, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: Cell phone usage

        Yes!!

        Much agreed --- chill out folks - put on some headphones and move on with your day.

        It's only a matter of time before cell phones are allowed, so get ready for it.

         

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        BTR1701, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 4:37am

        Re: Re: Cell phone usage

        > In fact theres lots of annoying things
        > everywhere, and cellphones arent
        > one of them.

        Yes, they are.

        > I laugh at people who rage at cell
        > phone usage in restaurants. Do they
        > rage at conversations?

        I laugh at people who use hyperbolic terms like "rage" to distort other people's comments.

        I'm not "raging" at anything, merely commenting on a social phenomenon.

        As for your question about restaurant conversations, all one has to do is compare and contrast two people having a conversation in a restaurant with a person talking on a cell phone and the difference is striking to anyone with even rudimentary observational skills.

        People talking face to face tend to have low-key conversations and intend them only to be heard between themselves. A cell phone user gets progressively louder and louder depending on the signal strength of his connection. As the connection fades in and out so does the talker's volume level. It's an empirically measureable phenomenon and is not in any way comparable to two people having a quiet conversation over a meal.

        People are addicted to these things like heroin. A movie theater in California recently tried using jamming technology inside their business because no matter how many times they tell people to turn the damn things off, no one ever does and a significant percentage of people insist on using them during the movie. [And yes, I would object to (or "rage", to use your ridiculous term) people talking among themselves in a movie just as much as I would object to people talking on their phones.]

        Based on the reaction of the people when they found out their phones were jammed, you'd have thought the theater had attempted to amputate their right arms or sell their children at auction. The mere thought of being phoneless for 90 minutes sent them into cold sweats and made them furious.

        It's both ridiculous and sad at the same time.

         

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      BTR1701, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 4:26am

      Re: Cell phone usage

      > I don't like your talking to the person
      > in the seat next to you.

      Other than the occasional "excuse me", I don't talk to people sitting next to me. They're strangers and I have nothing to say to them.

      > I don't like the constant tap tap tap
      > on the keyboard of your laptop or the
      > brightness of your display.

      I have never used my laptop while on a plane.

      > I don't like your annoying laugh while
      > you are watching the in flight movie.

      I have never watched the in-flight movie. If it's a movie I'm interested in, I'd rather watch it at home on my plasma screen and surround sound, not on a tiny, grainy LCD half-blocked by someone else's head. And if it's not a movie I'm interested in, why would I watch it anywhere, let alone on a plane? A book is my entertainment of choice and I don't read comedies so you needn't worry about me laughing while I read.

      > I don't like the way you wiggle in your
      > seat jostling me while you play your
      > video game.

      I haven't played a video game since I was in high school, long before cell phones were invented and they were too big to carry on planes.

      > I don't like your squalling brat who
      > thinks kicking my seat is fun.

      I don't have kids.

      > I don't like your farting.

      I only do that in the bathroom and you're unlikely to be in there with me to experience it.

      So now that I've addressed all your issues with me, turn your damn phone off and be quiet, why dontcha?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:02pm

    The nerve...

    How DARE two people thnk they have the right to intrude on MY RIGHT TO SILENCE by communicating amongst themselves?

    WTF?

    Are they completely OBLIVIOUS to the fact that I AM RIGHT HERE?!?!?!?! I don't want to hear them talking, and if I ever DO want to hear someone speak I WILL TELL THEM TO.

    And so help me me, if they talk before I tell them to, THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY!

     

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      Pamela Burch, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

      Re: The nerve...

      You're just being an asshole, seriously, some guidelines should be established re cell phone use on public transportation.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Cell phone usage

    There is no justifiable need short of a medical emergency to allow use of cell phones on an airplane and that alone is not sufficient to warrant allowing general widespread usage on planes.

    Our society is breeding a lack of consideration for others. If people today aren't willing to inconvenience themselves for the consideration of others, then we need guidelines in place to help them act considerately. The majority of people can't "inure" themselves to loudmouths. Besides, why should I have to work to ignore inconsiderates when I'm boxed in and can't change seats or move to a different booth? Why can't we just banish the one inconsiderate slob, rather than making 300 other people learn how to "inure" themselves?

    People don't realize how loud they are when they're on a phonecall (and teenagers could care even less). Compound that with being in a close, cramped airplane and the situation becomes an annoyance to everyone around them.

    Business travelers in particular. Guess what, business will wait! Besides, most business travelers who are really that concerned with their business try to fly "after hours". If they're flying during business hours, then the day's business issues aren't that important to them, so they ought to be able to stay off the phone as well.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:11pm

      Re: Cell phone usage

      There is no justifiable need short of a medical emergency to allow use of cell phones on an airplane and that alone is not sufficient to warrant allowing general widespread usage on planes

      Here's all the reason I need:

      There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to.

      ...and if thats not enough for you...

      I want to.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re: Cell phone usage

        Thanks for making my point! Funny you sound just like my 9 and 11 year old boys. Your names not Billy or Tommy is it?

         

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        BTR1701, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 4:43am

        Re: Re: Cell phone usage

        > Here's all the reason I need:

        > There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to.

        > ...and if thats not enough for you...

        > I want to.

        Well, too bad. Airlines are private companies and you have no inalienable right to do whatever you want. The airlines are going to do what the majority of their customers want and so far, poll after poll shows that people are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the ban in place for the very reason that they don't want to have to listen to the "I want to's" of the world yak away about nothing for three hours, all the while shouting into their phone whenever the plane moves away from a cell tower and their reception fades.

        If you want to fly, you abide by the rules. If talking on your phone the entire way is so important to you, take a train or charter your own private flight.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Cell phone usage

      Children can be loud. Or they can be quiet. We let them on planes.

      Cell phone users can be loud. Or they can be quiet. Do we let them on planes? Whats the difference?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re: Cell phone usage

        The difference is that children are children. Supposedly you are an adult and have the capacity to empathize.

         

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      Robert, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:53pm

      Re: Cell phone usage

      Considering your logic, there is no justifiable need for a cell phone use anywhere, except in case of medical emergency.

      Non-medical emergencies don't count?

       

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    Blabbermouth, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    Rudeness

    Our society is breeding a lack of consideration for others.

    I agree. So why are you so inconsiderate? What possible reason, except a selfish inconsiderate one, could you have for wanting to deny me the right to hold a conversation? Why should your right to talk to the person in the seat across the aisle be respected, even when it keeps me awake as I try to doze, but my right to hold a conversation be abridged merely because the person isn't you?

     

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    SailorAlphaCentauri, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    What gets me...

    about cell-phone usage in places is not so much the conversation, but the sheer volume of someone screaming into a phone. Admittedly, I am also the person who tells people who are holding conversations with their friends at the table to be quiet when they are loud enough to be heard outside of the building, so I have problems with everyone's conversation (cell phone or otherwise).

    Hell, if all you cell-phone yappers want everyone else to be quiet because you can't talk to your friend on the phone in the plane, push for silence-only flights. I'd be all for it. There's too much chatter in the world as it is.

     

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    NoiseCancellingHeadphonesAnyone?, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Cells on a Plane

    I understand both sides... but lets face facts.

    If they talk to loud, laugh to hard, etc. buy a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

    If their screen is too bright, they're looking at questionable content (in your opinion), close your eyes or buy some dark sunglasses.

    Just because it annoys you doesn't mean it annoys the other 100 people. I'm not saying these things don't annoy me, or that I am all for being able to use my cell phone on a plane. What I am saying is look around at where you live. You have a choice here. You might not like it or afford it, but the choice is there. Don't condem people because of your beliefs. If you want that kind of control, move to China.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    On the other hand, people will be so annoyed at each other over airplane cell phone usage or lack thereof, they won't even notice me smoking a cigarette in the back....

    I think everyone on a plane should be required to take a sedative that is designed to lasts the duration of the flight. That would save everyone from any annoyance caused by other passengers (excepted being date raped by a gay male flight attendant).

     

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    Julia, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    What's wrong with a little bit of peace and quiet

    I don't want to hear your cell phone call in-flight!! It's one thing when it's a professional. Most don't shout into their phones. The problem is the fact that the masses now own cell phones. People yapping at loud volume about their personal lives. I hate whoever it was who decide to make cell phone service affordable to the masses. Life was much better when only some of us had them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    Where's the RIAA

    So... how long will it be before the RIAA launches a legal campaign against you for listening to someone else's cell phone conversation on the plane? Then what about telling your friend about the inane cell phone conversation you heard while on the plane? Would that be illegaly rebroadcasting?

    I think I'm just going to cut off my ears and gouge out my eyes. Maybe then I'll only be sued for what I am thinking.

     

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    pclanguy, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    Is common sense too much to ask

    As a consultant and business traveler, I'd love walk both sides of the coin...

    On one side, the only peace and quite I get is on the plane. I can put my noise-cancelling headphones on and care less if you talk your head off, but at the same time don't have to worry about the 5 customers trying to get ahold of me. I'm going to have to deal with you when I get there anyway so leave me alone for the plane flight.

    The other side is with airport pickups, delays and security the way that it is now... it would be nice to just pick up the phone real fast and make arrangments so not to inconvenience someone with the hassle of picking me up. Sometimes, waiting until we're taxiing or I'm in the terminal is too late with traffic, etc.

    It seems the perfect solution is for people to use a little common sense. Decide what is an appropriate conversation to have and decide when you're speaking a bit too loud and be courteous to those around you. Sadly, all you have to do is look around or watch the news for 5 minutes to realize that will never EVER happen.

     

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    Rob, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 8:58pm

    HAHAHA We're on your planes!

    Talking on your phones!

     

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    another anonymous, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 5:07am

    OK, people you have to realize that #1 people leave their phones on while they are on the planes all the time today anyhow. As a United 1K I would estimate that at least 1 person on every plane leaves it on, puts it in their bag and then just puts the bag in the overhead. About a quarter of the 100-140 flights I take a year, you hear that phone go off just before takeoff or landing. It has been on the whole time!

    #2, with a picocell on every plane it is going to make it easier to use that phone whilest in flight, but they are going to be roaming. That roaming is going to cost them a lot more money. In fact, it will be comparable to using the sat phones on planes. All the plane is going to do is re-broadcast it through that or a simiilar system.

    I would even argue that although the first month or so of being allowed that sure people will try this and it may be a pain in the ass. But when customers get their bill with the roaming charges on it... kaboom. This is going to get a lot of press and let's face it. Depending on the carrier and agreement you have, just for going into a roaming cell, you could be charged for jumping in there. Some phones you could even be charged if someone were to call you and go to voicemail, or you were to have a message or email automatically download.

    The cost alone will make more people realize that they better shut off their phone! Can you imagine the message "Welcome to United flight 69, please ensure your seat belts are fastened. For your convenience, once we leave the gate, your flight will offer you access to the mobile phone network throughout the journey. If your phone is on, you could incur a $5 roaming set-up fee and yoru calls will be $2.99 per minute."

    Now friends, that is what they are talking about here! They aren't doing this for your convenience. This is to support the airlines that are loosing money left right and center.

     

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    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 7:22am

    At low altitudes, the normal cells would be useable, at least in areas where there is coverage, assuming that he 'plane does not act as a Faraday cage (it would not completely block the signal, althogh the strenght may be reduced).

    Internet would be more usefull than 'phone siganl, espeically if it becomes included in the ticket price, which would likely reduce th eprice by the effects of competition.

    To reduce the problem of varying signal strength, it would probably be simple to make 'phnes adjst the volume to make the last second's average volume a set value. this would mean that people would not gradulally get louder as they talk.

     

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    Emanuel Molho, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 2:04pm

    FCC and Cell Phones

    Is it really necessary to use cell phones on planes and in cars, especially when there is the real possibility of potential danger? How about a modicum of quietness for those who cannot bear the self-important, insufferable boors who subject all of us to their cell phone stupidities?

    Cell phone addicts are unconscious, disrespectful, discourteous and obnoxious. Public transportation and areas; doctors' offices; theaters; restaurants; checkout lines; just about everywhere. In their own dream world walking like zombies in the street, or "driving" their cars. Their business, everyone's business. Unable to bear silence or be by, or with, themselves for a moment. Totally oblivious to---and inconsiderate of---their neighbors.

    Cell phones will be as ubiquitous in airplanes as they are in places where we are all held captive. These (ab)users ought to be relegated to their own soundproof cabin, compelled to suffer one another's inanities. For the entire flight.


    I, and hopefully those who share these feelings, will give our business to the airlines that have the sense to ban them.

    Emanuel Molho, New York, NY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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