FCC Chairman Wants to Nix Cellphone Use When Planes in Flight

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants to keep the skies free of chatter.

Pai is suggesting the FCC do away with the proposal that would have allowed airplane passengers to use their cellphones while in flight.

“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” Pai said in a statement.“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.”

Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai

The Federal Aviation Administration announced in the fall of 2013 that airlines could begin permitting the use of Smartphones, tablets and e-readers during flights.

Although FCC regulations prohibited airborne calls using cellphones at that time, if the air carrier provided Wi-Fi service during flight, passengers were permitted to use those services.  Short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards are also allowed.

The FCC, under former chairman Tom Wheeler, put forward a proposal less than a month later to expand consumer access and choice for in-flight mobile broadband.

“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” Wheeler said in a November 2013 press release. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”

The proposal was not popular with trade groups representing pilots and flight attendants. Passengers themselves were none too keen either on sitting next to people talking incessantly on their phones.

Pai did not say why he is now moving to halt the proposal.

About the author


Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.