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.