FCC to Weigh Cell Phone Use On Planes

Posted by at 6:10 am on November 21, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission today indicated that it is willing to reassess whether or not U.S. flyers can make cell phone calls and/or text when in the air. Such use would require special equipment on the plane that duplicates the functionality of a cell phone tower and relays communications to the ground through a dedicated link, much like current in-flight Wi-Fi services.

Planes without the special new equipment would still require phones to be kept in airplane mode throughout the flight. “Today, we circulated a proposal to expand consumer access and choice for in-flight mobile broadband. Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.” The Federal Aviation Administration recently relaxed rules pertaining to the use of electronic devices when on planes.

The FAA now believes it is safe for passengers to use devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops from gate-to-gate. The FCC didn’t say how long it might take to review its current policy.

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