FCC votes to allow cell phone use on planes

Cell phone use has been banned on airplanes for decades, a result of fears of interference to avionics equipment, but that ban could be coming to an end with a new ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which would allow mobile phone use on flights. The new FCC rules would also allow in-flight Wi-Fi usage. The new rules would go into effect in December and could make use of mobile phones more convenient, but opponents of allowing phones on flights argue that it could compromise the safety of planes and airports. According to the new rules:

No mobile phone use of any type shall be permitted. Any handset or other mobile device containing a wireless communications component…shall not be used during takeoff, landing, or taxiing…Flight attendants shall promptly deplane any person in possession of a mobile phone or other mobile device that is operational… Passenger access to mobile phone service shall be provided only to authorized individuals using an approved handset or other portable device… This Notice makes clear that reasonable restrictions can be placed on the use of mobile phones during all phases of flight. The person using the handset or other portable device shall be expected to follow applicable policies and procedures which are not subject to the specific rules (on the mobile handset or other portable device)…

Furthermore, “cellular” mobile phone usage in an airport could interfere with communication systems and Wi-Fi.” However, the FCC ruled that the rules would be addressed as possible problems arise. “The fact is that the FCC is merely proposing [rules], not adopting them,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “This takes time… A rule like this can have many iterations, but that does not make it less workable, nor does it make the process any less frustrating.” For now, carriers like Southwest Airlines and British Airways are still banning mobile phone use on flights, but the rules could change in the future.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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