US FCC head opposes plan to allow cell phone use on planes

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US FCC head opposes plan to allow cell phone use on planes

The proposal, which was introduced in 2013 by then-chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler, sought to lift the ban on the use of cellphones on planes over concerns of cellular signal interference with pilot radios. That proposal will need a confirmation vote but that appears to be a formality with fellow commissioner Michael O'Rielly backing Pai, enough for a majority vote with only three commissioners now in office.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday voted against a proposed rule that would have relaxed restrictions on in-flight mobile device use, essentially terminating it. He named the plan "ill-conceived", and Pai said in a statement that he it did not serve the public interest. He concluded that today's action to kill the plan was a victory for all USA citizens who "value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet". The FCC today announced (pdf) that it's killing an FCC proceeding that would have opened the door to allowing phone calls during commercial flights. The FCC subsequently received 1,425 comments about lifting the ban and the majority was in favor of keeping it in place.

The proposal from 2013 would have left it up to the airlines to decide whether to permit the use of data, text, and voice services while planes are in the air, as long as they complied with FAA rules. "The proposal raised serious concerns about the safe operation of the aircraft, which is APFA's top priority".

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Internet Association, a coalition of internet-based companies that includes Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and others, said it met with Pai on Tuesday to make its case to retain the current rules. Under the FCC proposal, airlines would have decided if they allowed mobile phone conversations during flights. But now this application has been dismissed and it is somewhat not a huge decision that Pai has made. Eventually the DoT also began leaning in the direction of allowing voice calls.

For this, Alexander said Pai "earned the gratitude of 2 million Americans who fly".

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