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David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Please Don’t Let Me Make Calls on the Plane

FCC puts onus on airlines as it proposes lifting phone ban.

  • November 22, 2013

Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, having raised the idea of permitting cellular voice and text communications in airplanes (and hearing a public outcry) basically said: “Who, us?” Roger Sherman, acting chief of the FCC’s wireless telecommunications bureau, posted a blog saying that if the FCC adopts the rule, it’s really up to the airlines on whether to actually allow passengers to pass the time making voice calls with their personal phones.

But that’s like state lawmakers in Massachusetts saying its really up to the cities or towns whether to allow casinos; all they’re doing is legalizing gambling.

The FCC calls the airline ban “an outdated rule on our books that has been overtaken by advances in technology.” True. But we can already email, and that’s an appropriate way to communicate from one the last quiet spaces: airplanes. I don’t want casinos in my state, and I don’t want the guy next to me yakking all the way to LAX. And once one airline lets it happen, others will feel pressured to follow suit.

The rule will be considered on Dec. 12. Consumers can comment by calling 1-888-225-5322.

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