FAA Seconds FCC On Grounding In-Flight Mobile Phone Calls

from the but-what-about-voip? dept

Over the weekend, a story out of the UK began to get some buzz, when an American FAA representative supposedly told a British newspaper that the FAA will not approve in-flight mobile phone calls after the agency received a ton of complaints when it publicly began considering the shift in policy. Of course, this is somewhat meaningless, because the FCC had already said no to the change in policy, and both agencies would likely need to agree before any change went into effect. So, for those of you (and we know there are lots of you) who were terrified by the idea that you might get stuck sitting next to someone jabbering away into a mobile phone for a cross-continent flight… rest easy. Well, rest easy until you realize that voice is just a form of data, and it’s only a matter of time until internet access in the sky means the person sitting next you will be jabbering away via Skype for a cross-continent flight no matter what gov’t agencies have to say about mobile phones in the sky.

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Companies: faa, fcc

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Comments on “FAA Seconds FCC On Grounding In-Flight Mobile Phone Calls”

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16 Comments
Botch the Crab (user link) says:

As opposed to...?

Last time I flew, though I wanted to sleep, I was unfortunately at the end of an aisle that contained two women, one of whom had an infant on her lap. When the baby started making its various baby noises, the two started chatting, became fast friends and talked the entire plane trip, all five hours of it. (Their conversational stamina was impressive.)

Now, how is that different, really, than an overheard cell phone conversation? If the concern is the bothersome noise, then chatting women and babbling babies are just as annoying. Except, unlike with mobile phones, one can’t as easily complain about cheerful people talking cheerfully, or babies making noise.

It seems the only real difference is the greater opportunity for conversation that mobile phones provide. If it’s just a question of degree… I don’t see what anyone has to complain about. Certainly, I would hope that neither of those two women I mentioned would be among the mobile phone complainers.

TheDock22 says:

I don't think so...

and it’s only a matter of time until internet access in the sky means the person sitting next you will be jabbering away via Skype for a cross-continent flight no matter what gov’t agencies have to say about mobile phones in the sky.

Right now airlines have complete control over the behavior of the passengers (i.e., making scantily clad passengers cover up with a blanket if you haven’t been reading the news). All a stewardess/steward has to say to you is quit using your computer and if you do not comply you will be taken into custody the minute the plan touches ground.

That is just one of the reasons I hate flying. Sometimes the stewardesses/stewards are completely unreasonable. I was flying one time and the ride was pretty bumpy so my breathing was a little erratic and I was gripping the seat so hard my knuckles were white. The steward told me to calm down because I was annoying the other passengers. He even went so far as to offer a sedative 30 minutes before we landed. Now I wasn’t screaming or crying (or as far as I could see frightening other passengers), so I told him to leave me alone. I did get a talking to when I landed by security saying I needed to comply with any stewards request if the safety of other passengers was of concern. That’s flying for you though.

iphone says:

thankyou god

“Certainly, I would hope that neither of those two women I mentioned would beamong the mobile phone complainers.”

and certainly they would be on a cell phone if they could…

if i dont like your skype chat i starting vomiting and drooling…

for 5 hours of babies and women chatting, an Ambien or two and a vodka tonic makes it disappear…

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

The Mayo Clinic study that determined it was OK for cell phones in hospitals stated that cell phones only affect 1.2% of medical equipment uses.

I guess depending on which 1.2% that is disrupted, that doesn’t seem to matter. That being said, I guess its ok on planes, and depending on who is sitting next to me, I would rather them talk on the cell phone than me.

Nate K says:

FAA has good reason to ban cell phones on planes

The FCC actually has good cause to ban cell phones while in airplanes… They have actually banned them when in any flight, whether it’s a hot air balloon or a plane. Your cell phone will connect with as many towers as it can at all times, when in flight the number of towers that it can see increases dramaticly which creates more traffic and conjestion on the cell network… This is also an easily detectable offense and is not a hard policy to enforce since there will be no other explination for your phone communicating with 30 cell towers at the same time. As far as the FAA saying no, they really have no reason, cell phones do not mess with flight instruments, any flight instrument that would be prone to this kind of interference would be shielded to protect it…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: FAA has good reason to ban cell phones on plan

The FCC actually has good cause to ban cell phones while in airplanes… They have actually banned them when in any flight, whether it’s a hot air balloon or a plane. Your cell phone will connect with as many towers as it can at all times, when in flight the number of towers that it can see increases dramaticly which creates more traffic and conjestion on the cell network…

There are solutions to this, mainly in the form of picocells attached the planes, that route all of the cell phone call info.

The FCC took that into account and *still* said they weren’t going to allow it. So, it’s got nothing to do with hitting a bunch of towers.

LJSeinfeld (profile) says:

Re: FAA has good reason to ban cell phones on plan

Nate K: That’s rubbish.

The whole idea of cellular technology is that your phone locks onto ONE cell-site until it’s ready to move to the next. It may poll several sites in the area… but once you are on a call, you are on ONE cell-site.

I’ve heard that a phone being handed off from site to site as quickly as it would in a airplane can cause some trouble with the network… but I don’t know if those claims have actually been substantiated.

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