In December, the Federal Communication Commission approved the first step in allowing passengers on airplanes to use cellphones in flight. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called the ban "outdated" and "restrictive."
The current FCC ban was adopted in 1991 based on concern the calls planes might interfere with cellular networks on the ground, but technological advances have resolved those worries. Thus, the FCC would like to see the restrictions lifted since their are no safety issues related to cellphone use in flight. And it has the authority to make that decision.
|Click here to read full DOT response.|
However, the DOT regulates aviation consumer issues. And it believes that lifting the ban may be "an unfair practice to consumers."
According to the DOT, "Allowing voice calls on passenger aircraft may be harmful because people tend to talk louder on cellphones than when they're having face-to-face conversations. They are also likely to talk more and further increase the noise on a flight, as passengers would not be simply talking to the persons sitting next to them but can call whomever they like. While some planes may already have seat-back phones in place, we believe that most are rarely used and the department's concern is not about individual calls but rather the cumulative impact of allowing in-flight calls in close quarters."
The FCC points out that even if the ban is lifted it will be at the airlines discretion as to whether or not to allow it. Delta Air Lines has already stated it will not allow calls.
Recent polls have shown that the majority of Americans are against lifting the ban. And the FCC has received several public comments in opposition to lifting the ban.
In response to this public outcry, the DOT wants to know what you think about the potential rule change. Click here to post a comment. Comments must be received by March 26.