A proposal wants to reverse a ban that prevented passengers from making in-flight cellphone calls since the 1990s. However, the FCC chairman wants to keep a status quo instead. His reasoning is that the rule actually works in favor of Americans. It seems that there are many people who treasure quality time above the clouds in silence.
The FCC Chairman Is In Favor of Quality Time in Silence
The Federal Communications Commission has expressed in a 2013 proposal the intention to reverse the in-flight cellphone ban. This rule forbids any telecommunications with the ground for the entire duration of the travel. However, the current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to preserve the atmosphere that has been describing all air plane trips since the early 1990s.
“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.”
The Ban Was Instated because of a Technology Glitch that Is no Longer Valid
Such a cellphone ban made sense back in 1991. The authorities had several reasons to believe that the radio frequencies of mobile gadgets could interfere with relay stations on the ground. This way, they could impair the plane’s communications with the base.
However, the ban was subjected to criticism even by the predecessor of current FCC chairman, Thomas Wheeler. The former executive stated that the ban had no more grounds in today’s world. This is because most aircraft now have new technology on board that allows them to have their own cellphone towers with them.
As a consequence, Wheeler was the author of the 2013 proposal. However, instead of lifting the ban altogether, he decided to leave the decision up to air carriers to decide their own in-house policy.
At the moment, there are two dozen foreign companies that allow passengers to make phone calls while in flight. However, providers reassure clients that these conversations are short. For instance, AeroMobile Communications provided connectivity aboard foreign planes since 2008. The company stated that only 5% of passengers take advantage of this feature. Moreover, the average call lasts for two minutes.
Nonetheless, the U.S. Transportation Department has already received at least 1,700 comments on the ban decision. Almost 96% of them asserted themselves in favor of the ban. Another percentage of 2% proposed to extend the ban, yet attach to it an exception in emergency cases. Finally, other 2% of comments claimed that airlines should have the freedom to decide their own policies.
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