Dec 13, 2019 | Updated: 02:50 PM EST

FCC Reverses 2013 Policy Allowing Cellphone Voice Call Use On U.S. Planes

Apr 14, 2017 05:43 AM EDT


After just a little more than three years, a policy by the previous Federal Communications Commission allowing plane passengers to make voice calls on their cellular phones while aboard the jet was reversed. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Tuesday he reversed the policy in the public interest. The FCC lifted the ban on the use of mobile phones in late 2013 because of advances in technology.

Lower Risks Of Interference

Air carriers have banned the use of cellphones since 1991 because of concern that electronic devices could potentially interfere with aviation communications. In 2013, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of FCC then, introduced the change in policy, according to Tech Times.

However, recent technological advances such as satellite communications cut the risks in recent years, CIO-Today reports. Some aviation groups favored the lifting of the ban, but surveys indicate many air travelers are against the 2013 change made by FCC.

Pai says he is one with jet aviators, cabin crew and a majority of plane passengers who are against the change made in 2013 by the FCC. The chairman describes the change as an ill-conceived decision. “I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet,” The Washington Post quotes Pai.

What Best Suits Passengers’ Needs

A year after the FCC introduced the policy change, several organizations wrote the U.S. Department of Transportation to propose that American air carriers should be allowed to keep the choice of offering instead applications such as text, mobile data, and voice based on the airlines’ determination what best suits the needs of their customers.

But netizens, who responded to a DOT proposal in 2016 to allow in-flight calls that are non-cellular, said the 2013 change made by the FCC is intrusive and disruptive. In-flight Wi-Fi service providers, such as OnAir, offer voice calling services, but the airlines could opt to disable the service.

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