Here’s something that might be worth calling home about for frequent flyers. The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may lift its ban on in-flight mobile calls soon.
For several years now, in-flight cellular service has been banned on U.S. carriers by both the FCC and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, but it appears that the FCC is now amenable to allowing airborne voice calls and text messaging over cellular networks.
The ban was placed primarily because of concerns about mobile device interference with airplane navigation systems and other onboard electronics.
“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” said Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC in a statement yesterday. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”
The FCC has set an open meeting for December 12 where it will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow airline passengers to use mobile wireless services “via onboard airborne access systems.”
The FAA has recently eased regulations around the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing.
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An FCC proposal would further extend the use in-flight mobile services. It could mean that passengers may be able to send and receive calls over cellular services and not just through the in-flight Wi-Fi provided by some airlines today.
The FCC plan will still not allow cellular user during takeoff and landing. Cellular use will be allowed only above 10,000 feet, the FCC said.
Users will be able to access cellular services through equipment on the plane rather cell phone towers on the ground.
Airlines, however will still be able to restrict voice calls in-flight just as some airlines now ban Internet voice calls via Wi-Fi.