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December 13, 2013

US FCC votes to lift ban on in-flight mobile calls

US communication agency has voted 3-2 to commence a month-long public review period.

By CBR Staff Writer

The US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has initiated a move towards relaxing a ban on in-flight mobile phone calls, by supporting plans to launch a public review of the ban.

Members of the US communication agency have voted 3-2 to launch a months-long public review period.

US FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler told the BBC that there is a need to recognise that there is a new technology.

"This is a technical rule," Wheeler said.

"It is a rule about technology. It is not a rule of usage."

"Nothing will be different on your flight tomorrow. We’re seeking comments on a proposal."

While the FCC starts processes to lift the ban, the secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said that USDOT will now begin a process that will look at the possibility of banning these in-flight calls.

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It’s been 22 years since the mobile phones were banned on flights over concerns that the calls would obstruct with ground-based cellular networks, while technological modifications have dogged such issues.

The US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that 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.

"Over the past few weeks, we have heard of concerns raised by airlines, travellers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight – and I am concerned about this possibility as well," Foxx said.

"As part of that process, USDOT will give stakeholders and the public significant opportunity to comment."

Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowed the air passengers to use Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) through all phases of their journey by US airlines, while mobile calls, however, remain banned.

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