The Fight’s On Over In Flight Cell Phone Use

 In News, Travel

The 23-year old ban on cell phone calls on airplanes is back up for debate as lobby groups and legislators are lining up against the FCC which is considering reversing its 1991 decision. The cell phone ban on planes has always been based on safety reasons stemming from the concern that cellular voice communications on aircraft would cause potential interference with cellular ground networks and concerns that electromagnetic emissions might unintentionally affect aircraft communications, navigation, flight control, and electronic equipment.

But is this really true anymore?

The FCC has been reconsidering their earlier ban on in-flight cell phone use because it says that its original reason is no longer valid because of advances in mobile technology. If the rule is changed, the new rules could give airlines the ability to install an Airborne Access System that would provide the connection between passengers’ wireless devices and commercial wireless networks, much like WiFi service is provided today aboard aircraft.

“I’m the last person in the world who wants to listen to someone talking to me while I fly across the country,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told a congressional panel in December. “But we are the technical agency, and we will make the rules for the way the new technology works.”

The FAA is also backing up the FCC’s decision to reverse the ban since a 2012 study of data from 11 countries showed “civil aviation authorities reported no confirmed occurrences of cellphones affecting flight safety on aircraft with onboard cellular telephone base stations.”

So what’s the big fuss from the opposing side? Why are so many lobby groups getting in on the kerfuffle? According to a recent article on this issue it’s mostly about the annoyance factor. Flying today has become hassle enough with cramped quarters, no legroom and little in the way of amenities so passengers are already frustrated enough- add someone gabbing on their cell phone right next to you for two hours of your next flight and it could get ugly.

Another issue that’s been posed is that in-flight calling could make it easier for hijackers or terrorists to communicate – but with the in-flight phones that are already available, extending the ease to personal cell phones shouldn’t make that much of a difference in that argument.

So weigh in on the conversation with us on Twitter @smartcars1 using hashtag #cellphoneban. Tell us your stance! Are you A-Okay with shutting down before taking off and enjoying a little quiet time or is in-flight cell phone use a must-have in today’s busy world?

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