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

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