New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

FCC Chairman to End Plans to Allow In-Flight Cellphone Calls

Full smartphone use on commercial flights will continue to be disallowed, according to a proposal issued today by United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai wants to terminate 2013 proceedings that aimed to relax the rules prohibiting passengers from using their cellular phones for phone calls and data while in the air.

In a statement [PDF], Pai called the FCC's plan "ill-conceived" and said that tabling it permanently would be a "victory for Americans across the country."
"I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America's flying public against the FCC's ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes. I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet."
Back in late 2013, The FCC announced plans to introduce a proposal that would allow passengers to use their cellular phones on airplanes during flight for making phone calls and browsing the web. The proposal went forward, despite protests from flight attendants, airlines, consumer groups, and pilots, leading the Department of Transportation to announce plans to consider banning calls if the FCC approved the measure.

Since then, the FCC has been investigating the safety of allowing cellphone service on planes, and the proposal has not moved forward. With Pai aiming to nix it completely, it sounds like cellphone usage while in flight, including data usage for web browsing and making voice calls, will continue to be banned.

Under the FCC's existing rules, which were updated in 2013, passengers can use personal devices like iPhones and iPads throughout their flights, but cellular service must be disabled through Airplane Mode.

Tag: FCC


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

3 weeks ago
" Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet"

That's great, when you spend $3500 extra for a business class seat and can't even continue your business on a 7 hour flight.

But let me guess, we can continue to use our credit card to make on flight calls using their system, how do we stay quiet, we mime?

And I am sure 1 person on earbuds talking is just as loud as two people sitting next to eachother talking.
Rating: 47 Votes
3 weeks ago
Good. Can you imagine sitting next to someone talking loudly on their phone the entire flight? Now multiply that across an entire plane.
Rating: 43 Votes
3 weeks ago
This has everything to do with money, it's the same with hotels with the cell jammer, they want you to use their services.

It's amazing how easily people can be convinced to side with big business over your right to use services you already paid for.
Rating: 40 Votes
3 weeks ago
How can anyone come in here and support this? This isn't a ban on talking. It's not even a ban on phone calls. It's only a ban on using the cellular signal so that you'll buy wifi/phone service. If you're so concerned about obnoxious talkers, chime in when that's actually on the table.
Rating: 38 Votes
3 weeks ago
Pretty hilarious how many people here are buying into Pai's propaganda on this. This has nothing do do with people talking on their phone, and everything to do with protecting the monopoly the airlines currently have on in-flight internet access, which they would lose if you could access the internet through your cellular connection.
Rating: 21 Votes
3 weeks ago
Yea. If I had to sit on a 2-3 hour flight with someone running their mouth on the phone the entire time I would jump off the plane.
Rating: 14 Votes
3 weeks ago

Doubt this will deter most people, they'll just use their phones out of sight.


Try taking your phone out during a flight and turn it on. Chances are you won't get a cell phone signal, and if you do chances are you wouldn't be able to make a call. Cell phone towers are designed to transmit & receive signals horizontally, not 30,000 feet or more in the air.

For aircraft to support this they would have had to install femtocells ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femtocell') with radio links to satellites or ground stations in order to support in-flight calls.

Of course this only applies to actual cell phone calls. It likely won't have any impact on those who already use voip, facetime, skype, etc. over wifi while on flights...
Rating: 12 Votes
3 weeks ago

Good. Can you imagine sitting next to someone talking loudly on their phone the entire flight? Now multiply that across an entire plane.


Fine, so relax the rules only for non-voice cellular data.
Rating: 11 Votes
3 weeks ago

Wow. I understand now.


Why allow laptops, and let people watch videos, why allow them to listen to music on their devices, why allow people to talk to each other sitting next to each other, i am sure a conversation with headphones in means instead of the noise of 2 ppl next to each other talking, it is just one person talking - seems to be less noise to me, but let's go back to 2 ppl having a conversation, totally not loud.

Why allow people to do any business on their flight or, allow vloggers to edit their videos, i mean, that typing and bright screen sure must annoy someone.
Rating: 10 Votes
3 weeks ago

What can you accomplish with a call that you can not accomplish with text or email?


Why fly over there, when you can send a picture?
Rating: 10 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]