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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 Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules.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.