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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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Across the Atlantic-its YES
By crystal clear on 4/4/2007 8:23:11 AM , Rating: 1
Quote-
FCC Says 'No' To Cell Phones On Airplanes, But Europe Says 'Yes'

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on Thursday told reporters that his agency would give up looking into whether to approve the use of cell phones on airplanes. An opposite situation is under way in Europe, however, where regulatory agencies are working to pave the way for cell phone use on commercial aircraft.

"It's going through the approval process right now," said Charlie Pryor, a London-based spokesman for OnAir, a planned mobile phone service sponsored by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. "We expect some decisions within a month."

The Europeans have been testing their system for months and Pryor said Friday that certification is being reviewed by the European Aviation Regulatory Authority. Another process involves the use of radio spectrum, being studied by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations. CEPT has been working to coordinate some 44 European nations so they can allocate spectrum for mobile phone service providers.

Efforts by U.S. firms to provide in-flight phoning and Internet access for e-mail services and Web browsing have thus far been unsuccessful. In the most publicized effort, Boeing dropped an ambitious effort after spending a reported $1 billion.

http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;j...




RE: Across the Atlantic-its YES
By stromgald on 4/4/2007 11:48:56 AM , Rating: 3
If you talk to almost any aero engineer, they will tell you that cell phone usage on a plane is not hazardous to the aircraft electronics or the safety of the aircraft. If it truly was, they would confiscate your cell phone before you boarded. I've left cell phones on in luggage that was put in the overhead compartment with zero issues.

However, I don't think it's so much a technical issue, but a human issue. It's a matter of controlling communications, noise levels, and behavior on aircraft. When you're crammed in such tight quarters, having so many people chatting on phones can be disturbing to say the least.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)











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