U.S. Department of Transportation to Pursue Ban on In-Flight Cell Phone Calls

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The United States Department of Transportation has plans to pursue a ban on in-flight phone calls, reports The Wall Street Journal. In a speech last week at the International Aviation Club, general counsel of the Department Kathryn Thompson suggested restrictions were in the works, and a DOT spokesperson later confirmed the plans.
A spokeswoman confirmed that the DOT is developing "a notice of proposed rulemaking" for publication in December. "At this point, there is no final determination" as to what the notice or the final rule will say, said another spokeswoman.
The Department of Transportation's move to pursue a ban on in-flight cellular phone calls follows an FCC proposal to overturn the current restrictions that prevent airline passengers from making phone calls and using cellular data while in flight.

The existing rules state that all cellular telephones on board an aircraft must be turned off when an aircraft leaves the ground in order to keep them from interfering with ground networks, but the FCC no longer believes in-flight interference is an issue. In 2013, the FCC officially relaxed its restrictions on the use of portable electronics in flight, allowing them to be used during landing and takeoff while in Airplane Mode.

After the FCC suggested it might permit cellular phone usage in flight, the Department of Transportation, airlines, and several other consumer groups expressed concern over the disruption voice calls could introduce if permitted in flight. Though airlines have largely been against in-flight cell phone calls, they believe the final decision on in-flight calls should be left up to them rather than in government control.
"Airlines aren't clamoring to allow mobile-phone use during flight, and some have already said they'd prohibit it on their own flights," said Jeffrey Shane, general counsel for the International Air Transport Association, and a former senior Transportation Department policy maker. But Mr. Shane said some carriers may want to explore passenger-friendly ways to introduce calls, such as in-flight phone booths or quiet zones.
The FCC is continuing to investigate the safety of allowing cell phone service on planes, and a ban on voice calls from the Department of Transportation, which supersedes any FCC decision, may result in a situation where customers are permitted to use cellular data in-flight for texting and web browsing but are banned from making voice calls. The Department of Transportation is expected to release more information on a potential ban in December.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: U.S. Department of Transportation to Pursue Ban on In-Flight Cell Phone Calls
 

chirpie

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
639
173
For the sake of my and everyone else's sanity, I pray this ban goes through. LOL.
 

ct2k7

macrumors 603
Aug 29, 2008
5,907
391
London
Most equipment are built to resistant to interference.

I personally wouldn't use a plane in-flight... as a pilot or a passenger.
 

Col4bin

macrumors 68000
Oct 2, 2011
1,722
1,283
El Segundo
It is already too loud on an airplane, we don't need people loudly shouting into their phones as well.
Can you imagine…? Sitting next to a bunch of teenagers or snooty business peple yapping into their cell phones for an entire flight??? NO THANKS! At least I listen to music, but it would still be very annoying. :eek:
 

eastercat

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2008
3,323
7
PDX
There is a device that would kill cell signals within a certain area. If you don't use something like that, there will always be someone circumventing the rules.
 

FieldingMellish

Suspended
Jun 20, 2010
2,440
3,079
It’s going to be the equivalent of no smoking. Addicted individuals will do extra feverish yakking and texting before boarding the plane.

On a darker note, isn’t cell phone use the preferred means of igniting bombs?
 

Squeak825

macrumors 6502
Sep 5, 2007
337
147
People that are worried about everyone talking on the phone while in flight is forgetting one critical thing: most cell phones can't reach a tower reliably while cruising.

That means that the airlines would have to put into place their own microcell on the plane to provide reception -- like they do for wifi.

And access to that won't be cheap or free.
 

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
16,864
1,480
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
In-Flight calls is a sweet and sour note for me. Many benefits if something is urgent, but at the same time... imagine those loud mouthed people?

It be great to be able to dial and tell the other party picking you up "Captain says we are landing in 15 minutes."
 

Marzzz

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2002
193
112
The Desert
Even during the short period of time between boarding the plane and taxiing for takeoff, people talking on cell phones are particularly annoying. I don't know exactly what it is, but people tend to speak so LOUD while using their cell phones. I am all in favor of this ban.
 

Z400Racer37

macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2011
692
1,556
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my lords at the DOT for knowing better than my lords at the F'nCC, about exactly what is best for me. Don't know what I would do without 'em. :rolleyes:
 

lostngone

macrumors 65816
Aug 11, 2003
1,340
2,833
Anchorage
I am all for bans on take off and landing.

However what cell phone works 5 miles away from a tower while in a shielded tube. Unless you are walking around with a 50+ dBi antenna it just isn't going to work.

I say leave it up to airlines, maybe they could have a cell phone use sections on the plane like back in the smoking days.
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,027
1,798
Manhattan
I'm not keen on being forced to listen to someone phone conversation on the plane either, but is this really the reason the airlines want to prohibit it--or is it that they want you to use the super expensive air phones that you can conveniently activate with your credit card?

If they think allowing cell phones is dangerous or distracting, it would seem those shouldn't be allowed either.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
5,625
291
Great time for Apple to be pushing their Voice Messages, I see. Not only that, just in time to prevent a bunch of people talking to their wrists on flights.
 

kupkakez

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2011
1,842
669
Austin, TX
Yes! This HAS to be banned. I could not imagine sitting next to some motor mouth yapping the entire flight. There is nobody THAT important that you absolutely have to talk to during a domestic flight, international maybe a little different.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
5,625
291
I'm not keen on being forced to listen to someone phone conversation on the plane either, but is this really the reason the airlines want to prohibit it--or is it that they want you to use the super expensive air phones that you can conveniently activate with your credit card?

If they think allowing cell phones is dangerous or distracting, it would seem those shouldn't be allowed either.
I agree, this has nothing to do with offering air travelers a pleasant flight. I also wonder if it's harder to snoop on conversations 35,000 feet in the air.
 

RyanFromQA

macrumors member
May 15, 2008
40
20
How much of a problem is this?

The last flight I was on, I turned off airplane mode on my iPhone. I know -- Danger is my middle name. Thing is, I had no service even well before we got to our cruising altitude (and were still over a heavily populated area with plenty of coverage).
 

squirrelist

macrumors regular
Jun 27, 2006
119
90
Silver Spring MD
Does this really need a law?

I can understand the DOT banning phone calls if there was a technical or safety reason. But why should they make a law for people to be courteous? As far as I see it, this is no different than talking on the phone in a theater. Theaters ban phone calls in the theaters not because of law but because it is disrespectful to others. Airlines can (and probably should) do the same thing.
 

PocketSand11

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2014
672
1
~/
There is a device that would kill cell signals within a certain area. If you don't use something like that, there will always be someone circumventing the rules.
I'm almost sure that device would create the same interference with equipment that a cell phone would, most likely worse. But still, I don't want people talking on cell phones in-flight anyway because it would be annoying.
 

ghettochris

macrumors 6502a
Feb 19, 2008
774
0
I would like them to also ban having conversations or having kids on planes for my peace and quiet. :rolleyes:
 

DJsteveSD

macrumors regular
Mar 4, 2011
175
19
Dallas, TX
I'm almost sure that device would create the same interference with equipment that a cell phone would, most likely worse. But still, I don't want people talking on cell phones in-flight anyway because it would be annoying.
I would hate it too but sadly, if it were legal, people just wouldn't how annoying it would be.
 

ghettochris

macrumors 6502a
Feb 19, 2008
774
0
People that are worried about everyone talking on the phone while in flight is forgetting one critical thing: most cell phones can't reach a tower reliably while cruising.

That means that the airlines would have to put into place their own microcell on the plane to provide reception -- like they do for wifi.

And access to that won't be cheap or free.
I was on a plane with free wifi, and you weren't allowed to do skype calls... That is the type of thing this argument is about.