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The FCC has terminated its proposal inquiry to relax cell phone ban laws, but FAA regulations still run the show anyway

In December 2004 the Federal Communications Commission launched an inquiry to rescind or relax its ban on 800MHz-band cellular phones aboard in-flight aircraft.  In addition to lifting the ban, the study also investigated the feasibility of using pico-cells and other technology to boost coverage in-flight communication via mobile devices.

In a release today, the FCC announced it has terminated the 2004 study (PDF).  Some aspects of the study, such as technical solutions to physically allow cellular phones to function on aircraft, were deemed a success.  The FCC states that its advisory arm has conducted extensive research into the hazards of in-flight usages, with potential solutions as well.  These findings will be published by mid-2007.

However, even if the FCC were to reverse its ban, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration still has a long standing policy prohibiting usage of transmitting electronics in-flight.  While the FCC's in-flight ban is largely credited to air-to-ground interference, the FAA's ban on cell phones is due to the hazard of air-to-air and in-cabin interference.

The FAA's mobile device guidelines at least partially influenced the FCC's decision to abandon its exploratory research.  "The Commission also noted that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) on airborne aircraft," the FCC stated. "Given the lack of technical information in the record upon which we may base a decision, we have determined at this time that this proceeding should be terminated."

There is still a loophole in the FCC and FAA bans.  Aircraft-specific services, like Connexion, may operate under the spectrums allocated by the two agencies.



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RE: HUH????
By GmanMD on 4/4/2007 7:11:14 AM , Rating: 3
Have any of you thought about a plane full of people yapping away on their cell phones? I for one am glad that cell phones are prohibited on flights. People can survive a few hours without speaking to someone. Also, I don't want someone who can call up a bomb in the luggage compartment. Keep it difficult to make calls on planes.


RE: HUH????
By rocketcuse on 4/4/2007 9:22:57 AM , Rating: 2
Cell phone disputes are always funny. Just like... is the glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty?

Few people mention about having X amount of people yapping on the cell during flight.

I must fly on the wrong airline(s) or at the wrong times because I have yet to have a flight without a constant chatter. Granted, my flights are typically about 3-4 hours at most and on 717's class planes. Some 737's.


RE: HUH????
By 91TTZ on 4/4/2007 1:31:28 PM , Rating: 2
A cell phone ban isn't going to stop someone from detonating a bomb with a cell phone.

Just think about it: if a person is willing to blow up the plane that they're on, do you really think that they'll care about breaking a minor rule such as operating a phone while in flight?


RE: HUH????
By FITCamaro on 4/4/2007 2:25:13 PM , Rating: 1
Perhaps. But if you were going to detonate a bomb on a plane with a phone, would you get on the plane? And I'm pretty sure all bags are scanned for active electronics signatures. So it's not like you can just put a bomb in a bag with an active receiver. Even if it was in sleep mode, I'd hope bags are scanned throughly enough that the equipment would be picked up.

Also, if you were on the plane, the person sitting next to you or in the row next to you, would kind of notice you messing with your cell phone. Granted it doesn't take long for you to turn on your phone, type in a number, and hit send. All the same, I'd prefer the ban to stay in place.


RE: HUH????
By stromgald on 4/4/2007 2:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what airlines you've been flying on, but nobody's going to stop anyone from opening a cell phone, punching in a number, and hitting talk. They tell everyone to turn off their cell phones, but in reality, you can just leave it on in your pocket. The likelihood of anybody stopping you in time is very small.

Also, they don't scan for active electronics. I put active cell phones and pagers through the machines every time, and I doubt checked bags are different. They check for explosives more than active electronics since active electronics could be a plethora of benign things.


RE: HUH????
By alifbaa on 4/4/2007 7:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of using a cell phone that may or may not have reception, wouldn't you just use a kitchen timer? That's what they use in Iraq a lot, and it seems to work great there.


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