FCC Says No To Cell Phones On Airplanes, But Europe Says Yes

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin announced that his agency would give up looking into whether to approve the use of cell phones on airplanes. An opposite situation is underway in Europe, however, where regulatory agencies are working to pave the way for cell phone use on commercial aircrafts.

The Europeans have been testing their system for months. Charlie Pryor, a spokesman for OnAir, a mobile phone service sponsored by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, has stated that certification is currently being reviewed by the European Aviation Regulatory Authority and a decision is expected in a month. The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations is also working to coordinate some 44 European nations so they can allocate a radio spectrum process 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. Boeing dropped an ambitious effort after spending a reported $1 billion and Verizon Communications recently dropped its long-standing in-flight phoning. Commercial airline JetBlue and private group AirCell Incorporated have expressed interest in supplying in-flight connectivity, but their plans have been relatively dormant in recent months. One of the FCC's concerns is the potential for cell phones on airplanes to disrupt other radio communications. That should please the thousands of consumers who have sent messages to the FCC stating that they do not want cell phone service in airplanes or the annoying talking it could bring to flights.

News source: InformationWeek

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Apple reportedly to postpone Leopard to support Vista

Next Story

Left 4 Dead interview @ Firingsquad

12 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

kaiwai said,
Clue: it has NOTHING to do with 'interference' and everythnig to do with how phones are tracked, the limitations of that technology, and the financial impact on those mobile phone businesses.

Actually, cellphones have been PROVEN to disrupt the navigational systems used on airplanes. They don't always cause problems but they have been known to in the past. What actually happens is they can cause the autopilot systems to go off of the set course without the pilot knowing it. Heck, all of my cellphones cause audible interference with just my stereo/tv equipment so I totally believe what they can do to other more sensitive equipment.

But you are correct in that cellphones actually don't work during flights simply because the phone can't connect to the current cell towers fast enough when your flying at 300+mph and are a lot farther from them some 30,000 feet in the air.

kaiwai said,
Heck, all of my cellphones cause audible interference with just my stereo/tv equipment so I totally believe what they can do to other more sensitive equipment.

Every bit of proper radio equipment carries a little sticker on the back with a FCC approval number. This ensures that the equipment complies with all the radiation, spurious emission, harmonic interference and all sorts of other things.

If equipments don't have FCC approval number then it is crap (or probably some counterfeit imported from China or manufactured by some crappy company). In EU it is illegal to use some equipment (like phones) which were not certified by FCC or local Communications Regulatory Authority. This makes sure that there is no interference between equipment (planes, phones, TVs, electric shavers ...).

a while back, they tested this one out on mythbusters and came to the conclusion that theres no way that a digital cdma/gsm or analog cdma phone had any effect on any of the electronic/radio/mechanical equipment on an airplane... MYTH BUSTED

Do the Mythbusters work for the FCC and NTSB? I'm pretty sure both agencies have their own testing facilities and qualified scientists who have determined that electrical interference cannot be ruled out in %100 of their test cases. Consider the number of flights occuring each day in the US and even a %.01 probability can result in an incident by year's end.

Budious said,
Do the Mythbusters work for the FCC and NTSB? I'm pretty sure both agencies have their own testing facilities and qualified scientists who have determined that electrical interference cannot be ruled out in %100 of their test cases. Consider the number of flights occuring each day in the US and even a %.01 probability can result in an incident by year's end.

I think you need to find out *WHY* they disallow it, and how many of the cell phone players lobby the FCC to stop people from using it on flights.

Clue: it has NOTHING to do with 'interference' and everythnig to do with how phones are tracked, the limitations of that technology, and the financial impact on those mobile phone businesses.

There are proper ways to doing things and there not so proper ways. There is such a thing as silent mode and vibration. It is a way of life but the FCC and Americans are being just plain idiots. I remember Sept. 11 and how many of them made mobile calls during the episodes. I would not pay a private carrier on a flight when my mobile can make the calls when it is roaming. One year while we are on a trans Atlantic flight one our friends realized in horror that there mobile was on during the whole flight!! This was from America to Europe and the plane flew just as it should have. I just think that the FCC is making this all up. I mean FCC uses frequencies that are shared among other things, like American mobiles and emergency service such as firemen, polices and ambulances. You can use your mobile but if a event happened in your area and the police, etc... are called you can disrupt their calls!! How stupid is that for the FCC. Over here in the EU that would not happen for safety reason and logic.

I agree with you. It really annoys me when I'm ringing someone up at my work and they are on their cell phone not paying attention to anything. It's rude and annoying and wish I could curse them out. I wouldn't want cell phones on planes either it will annoy me even more. I remember I was sitting next to a person in the airport and she must of been talking 80 words a second on her freaking stupid blue tooth headset. I wanted to take the stupid bluetooth set off of her face and stomp on that headset with my shoe.

As long as they keep the prices high, I don't want people around me talking their heads off for an entire 4hr flight, that would be entirely so annoying because people don't realize how bothersome they are talking on their cell phones in public places now.

Jugalator said,
Why is it more annoying than people talking to each other a large part of the flight?

Yeah, people talking to people they know in public are most annoying. It's much easier to whisper or speak in audible voice to the person in the seat next to you, people tend to speak louder on cell phones because the signal quality or cell audio is poor.