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FCC wants to allow in-flight calls… but USDOT wants to ban them due to annoyance

airplane story [1]

Just as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering allowing the use of cell phones on airplanes, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is considering banning in-flight calls.

The ban is being considered because of the annoyance phone calls would cause other fliers and flight attendants. The ban floats around the research done on the idea that hearing only one half of a conversation is more annoying than hearing two people having one.

“Over the past few weeks, we have heard of concerns raised by airlines, travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress, and others who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cellphones in flight—and I am concerned about this possibility as well,” Anthony Foxx, who is the Secretary for the department, said, reported by Reuters. “As the FCC has said before, their sole role on this issue is to examine the technical feasibility of the use of mobile devices in flight… DOT will now begin a process that will look at the possibility of banning these in-flight calls.”

The FCC has stayed out of this for the most part, essentially saying that it isn’t their place to worry about this aspect of in-flight calls.

“The FCC’s sole role is to examine the technical feasibility of the use of mobile devices in flight. As the Commission researches and takes public comments on the technical aspects of this issue, the US Department of Transportation, as part of their Aviation Consumer Protection Authority, will determine solely if allowing voice calls is fair to consumers,” said the FCC via a Q&A post. “USDOT will begin a public process to consider the possibility of banning in-flight calls through notice and comment rulemaking.”

So far the ban is being considered for calls, so if it does get passed, people would still be able to communicate through text and email.

[via arstechnica [2], image via PHLAIRLINE.COM’s flickr [3]]