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FCC considering in-flight cellphone use above 10K feet, report says

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
The U.S. FCC is reportedly planning to lift a restriction on in-flight cellular voice calling, but some airlines are reticent in implementing the feature due to concerns over passenger comfort.

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will soon propose a loosening of limitations that disallows passengers to make phone calls or connect to data networks while in flight, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to people familiar with the matter, the proposal is to be presented during an upcoming FCC meeting in December. If the measure is adopted, airlines will be able to allow in-flight calling if they so choose.

The news comes after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would let passengers use electronic devices in all phases of flight. Citing FCC regulations, the new freedom came with the caveat that cell phones and tablets must be placed in airplane mode, or have their cellular radios disabled. Previously, in-flight use was only permitted above 10,000 feet.

As noted by the WSJ, the in-flight calling proposal will be announced through a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, which asks for general comments before a final decision is made. In all, the process may take months to complete.

If the proposition is passed, the added capability may not make it to all airlines, as some carriers have said their passengers strongly object to the idea. Airplanes are one of the only places where cell phone use is prohibited by law, offering some a respite from a society deeply entrenched in a cellphone culture.

For example, Delta said the company would not be allowing cellular voice calls even if the restriction is lifted, noting its customers have shown strong opposition to the option. Other airlines, like JetBlue, said it was open to the idea as long as passengers were comfortable.

In addition to the cultural concerns associated with allowing hundreds of people cell phone access in a confined environment, airlines would have to install specialized equipment to communicate with terrestrial cell towers.
post #2 of 27
The ****? Since when do cellphones even work above 10,000 ft?
post #3 of 27

Just give people a "phone zone" in the plane where they can talk themselves silly without bothering others.

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post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

The ****? Since when do cellphones even work above 10,000 ft?

I presume you're allowed to call through the downlink the airplane has with the grid. If not, perhaps we can FaceTime on WiFi equipped airplanes with our mates.
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post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Just give people a "phone zone" in the plane where they can talk themselves silly without bothering others.


 



Please! If they don't do that, can they also authorize signal scramblers for use? I don't want to spend hours forced to listen to somebody elses conversations. And people generally talk louder when they get on an elevator. Probably will do that when they plane is flying, too.
post #6 of 27
"Hey! Guess where I'm callng you from? Nope - an airplane!" All at a volume twice as loud as necessary. Kill me now.

I hope most airlines forbid this.
post #7 of 27
Voice is going to all-data anyway so it's not going to prevent it.
post #8 of 27

I can see alcohol sales increasing with this. 

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

The ****? Since when do cellphones even work above 10,000 ft?

 

From the article: "...airlines would have to install specialized equipment to communicate with terrestrial cell towers."

 

eta: Please, don't do this. In addition to overloud talking, there's the arm holding the phone protruding into my already-too-limited space.

post #10 of 27
It is possible to use a cell phone in a crowded space without annoying people. I rode a bus sitting next to a young Asian woman who, I eventually noticed, was whispering very quietly on her phone.

But on aircraft, we'll be stuck with loud-mouth salesmen who bellow loud enough to be heard across half the plane. Dealing with them would be a further burden on already hassled flight attendants. The FCC would be well-advised to keep this rule just to offer consistency for airline passengers.

And keep in mind that:

1. At 30,000 feet, a cell phone is probably line of sight to dozens of cellular towers. That can't be good for cell service.

2. The aluminum body of an aircraft is a bit like the interior of a microwave oven. The power of a cell phone may be less, but only a tiny fraction of that power is going to make it out the tiny windows. The rest will be bouncing around going into the bodies of people who may have a pacemaker or similar device. We don't want to have pacemakers shutting down at 30,000 feet.

If someone needs to talk in flight, let them text.
post #11 of 27
Install a sound proof phone booth. Or, issue sound proof helmets with built-in headphones and mic. Jack in your phone and talk yourself silly. /s/
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post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Install a sound proof phone booth. Or, issue sound proof helmets with built-in headphones and mic. Jack in your phone and talk yourself silly. /s/
Cone of silence anyone?
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post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

...

1. At 30,000 feet, a cell phone is probably line of sight to dozens of cellular towers. That can't be good for cell service.

2. The aluminum body of an aircraft is a bit like the interior of a microwave oven. The power of a cell phone may be less, but only a tiny fraction of that power is going to make it out the tiny windows. The rest will be bouncing around going into the bodies of people who may have a pacemaker or similar device. We don't want to have pacemakers shutting down at 30,000 feet.
 

 

1. Read the last paragraph of the original article. (At 10k feet you won't get a cellular signal from a normal tower anyway ... the altitude combined with attenuation inside the aluminum can is just too much for a cellular radio to get a signal.)

 

2. Stick with what you know... that analogy is just wrong.

a. the frequency spectrum used by cellular phones does not create ionizing radiation ... it's harmless.

b. in a bus or train loaded with cellphone users, how often do pacemakers "shut down"?... or even standing directly next to an operating cell tower.  Again, you need to stop talking about these things as if you have any understanding about electromagnetic radiation.  You're liable to confuse people who are willing to admit that they don't know how this stuff works.

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post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

Just give people a "phone zone" in the plane where they can talk themselves silly without bothering others.

It's called the cargo hold.

 

If I flew regularly, a set of noise-cancelling headphones would be my next purchase.

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Conrail View Post

It's called the cargo hold.

If I flew regularly, a set of noise-cancelling headphones would be my next purchase.

The noise canceling headphones will make it so that you can hear people chatting on the phone that much clearer. They do well at canceling low frequency noises and kill a lot of back ground noise but don't do much to cancel voices. When our youngest was born she was very colicky. I called Bose and suggested they add a setting to their headphones that would help take the edge off the sound of a screaming baby. I think they thought I was crazy but were still polite.

I was going to say that if they allow cellular calls that I would avoid that airline. Upon further consideration, I don't think it will matter for me. I have to fly out of Atlanta and that place is such a zoo, I already do everything I can to avoid flying anyways.
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post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

...


1. At 30,000 feet, a cell phone is probably line of sight to dozens of cellular towers. That can't be good for cell service.


2. The aluminum body of an aircraft is a bit like the interior of a microwave oven. The power of a cell phone may be less, but only a tiny fraction of that power is going to make it out the tiny windows. The rest will be bouncing around going into the bodies of people who may have a pacemaker or similar device. We don't want to have pacemakers shutting down at 30,000 feet.

 

1. Read the last paragraph of the original article. (At 10k feet you 
won't get a cellular signal from a normal tower anyway ... the altitude combined with attenuation inside the aluminum can is just too much for a cellular radio to get a signal.)


2. Stick with what you know... that analogy is just wrong.

a. the frequency spectrum used by cellular phones does not create ionizing radiation ... it's harmless.

b. in a bus or train loaded with cellphone users, how often do pacemakers "shut down"?... or even standing directly next to an operating cell tower.  Again, you need to stop talking about these things as if you have any understanding about electromagnetic radiation.  You're liable to confuse people who are willing to admit that they don't know how this stuff works.

While you are correct that the microwave oven analogy is poor and that this is not a hazard, I'm not sure why you brought up ionizing radiation; firstly that was never mentioned and secondly it would not particularly affect devices such as pacemakers anyway. More accurately, an aircraft has the wrong dimensions and is far too leaky to be a useful reasonant cavity or Faraday cage for cell phone emissions.
post #17 of 27
NIX the voice calling. It would be very annoying, but texting would be a nice feature.
post #18 of 27
The flight is noisy anyway because of the airplane engines... If people want to sleep on longer flights the airline is selling earbuds or you can bring your own earbuds or earplugs.
I think it will be great if at least be able to make inflight voip calls.
post #19 of 27
Originally Posted by gimarbazat View Post
The flight is noisy anyway because of the airplane engines... 

 

That’s the thing I don’t understand; people will nearly be shouting to get their conversations over the engines and actually be shouting to get the conversations over each other. Unless newer planes have some actual soundproofing, man.

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post #20 of 27

Nice picture.

 

Voice calls should never be allowed in-flight.

 

If you need to talk to someone that badly, talk to your wife. If it's business, stay home and Skype the fuckers. Don't sit next to me and bawl your head off in my lugholes. YEAH I JUST LANDED... GONNA HAIL A CAB... SHOULD BE THERE IN AN HOUR... SEE YOU THEN... is bad enough. To have that for the whole flight? No thanks. If it ever happens that it's allowed to use phones gate-to-gate, it'll be because airlines can fleece passengers who're willing to pay the exorbitant prices for the privilege, to the detriment of every other passenger who just whats some peace and quiet.

 

Grrrr. It aint broke. Don't fix it.

post #21 of 27

About time.

 

Oh, and those of you complaining about it:  Boo Hoo.  You'll have to hear someone talking.  Poor baby.

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post
 

About time.

 

Oh, and those of you complaining about it:  Boo Hoo.  You'll have to hear someone talking.  Poor baby.

 

They'll hear me talking, too, because if their conversation is loud enough for me to involuntarily be a part of it, I plan to participate. 

 

I hope this won't annoy you. Poor baby.

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Just give people a "phone zone" in the plane where they can talk themselves silly without bothering others.


 



Please! If they don't do that, can they also authorize signal scramblers for use? I don't want to spend hours forced to listen to somebody elses conversations. And people generally talk louder when they get on an elevator. Probably will do that when they plane is flying, too.

Only once was I on a flight where some yutz talked on the AirFone through the whole thing. Very, very annoying.

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post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by Arlor View Post

if their conversation is loud enough for me to involuntarily be a part of it, I plan to participate.

 

I do that sometimes, with friends. I’ll walk in on them on the phone and be the local other half of the conversation.

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post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


While you are correct that the microwave oven analogy is poor and that this is not a hazard, I'm not sure why you brought up ionizing radiation; firstly that was never mentioned and secondly it would not particularly affect devices such as pacemakers anyway. More accurately, an aircraft has the wrong dimensions and is far too leaky to be a useful reasonant cavity or Faraday cage for cell phone emissions.

 

Yeah ... my bad.  I guess I inferred (even though he didn't bring it up) that he was also one of these idiots that thinks he's gonna get cancer or be sterilized from cell-phone radiaton.

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post #26 of 27

So does this mean all the times I was harassed about using a Gameboy or Sony Walkman was unnecessary B.S.?

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
 

So does this mean all the times I was harassed about using a Gameboy or Sony Walkman was unnecessary B.S.?

unnecessary?... not at all. It was the law... the flight attendants faced fines or firing if they were caught NOT enforcing the rules (they are federal rules, not airline rules.)

 

B.S. ?  ... most definitely.

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