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Summary:

Tired of airplane mode? The FCC is circulating a proposal to make phones usable above 10,000 feet.

Airplane Sunset
photo: Flickr / kossy@finedays

While flight passengers have been exercising the privilege of using e-books and tablets for the entirety of flights throughout November, it seems like the FCC is mulling over the possibility of lifting the ban on cell phone use above 10,000 feet.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, this will be the third time the FCC will consider changing the rules. The proposal has been shot down twice before, in 2004 and 2007, but it seems that they were both largely shot down due to the perceived nuisance of passengers taking calls on airplanes, as well as a “lack of technical information” about the risks.

While it’s largely been proven that cell phones don’t interfere with the safety of a flight, cell phones on planes have been part of a large social taboo — many see the friendly skies as one of the few places where phones cannot be used, and it should remain that way. However, it’s likely that the U.S. government has been spurred by the positive reaction towards extended use of personal devices to reconsider changing the rules.

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed the news in a brief statement:

“ 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 Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules. 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 matter is scheduled to be discussed at the FCC’s monthly meeting on December 12.

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  1. This is not new to rest of the world. Singapore Airlines allows its patrons to make video calls even

    1. When I was a child and did something stupid, which happened on occasion, I would sometimes say, “Well so-and-so did it too.” At which my mother would say, “If so-and-so set their hair on fire, would you?” That pretty much ended the discussion. Singapore Airlines can issue its “patrons” pogo sticks. That does not make it an idea we should emulate in the benighted good old USA.

  2. Lydia Kidwell Sugarman Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Oh, hell no! I don’t care if other countries and airlines already allow it. I don’t want to be trapped in a plane full of loud talkers, inane or embarrassing conversations, etc. The only thing that could mitigate it would be phone-free seating zones at the front of the plane.

  3. Everyone I know loves the eased rules on electronics. No one I know want phone calls to be permitted. How is the ‘U.S. Government’ making this correlation?

  4. This is a REALLY BAD IDEA! Flying today is painful enough. The last thing anyone should wish on their worst enemy is to have to sit next to someone talking non-stop on a cross country flight.

  5. I’ll stop flying rather than listen to the drivel on cells phones. It’s bad enough the economy class is packed in like sardines, but to listen to someone on a cell phone would be intolerable.

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