United States hangs up plan to allow in-flight mobile phone calls

U.S Federal Communications Commission delivers his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai chose to reverse the proposal of his predecessor to allow travelers to use their mobile phones while in flight. Most people who ride on planes actually look forward to that rare moment of peace and quiet (well except if there are chattering passengers or crying babies of course) in between the take off and landing. However, as USA Today points out, both Pai and Michael O'Rielly, who cover two of those three spots on the board, already voted back in 2013 against collecting any comments about lifting the ban.

Back in 2013, the FCC, then under Thomas Wheeler, made a rather highly debated proposal: to allow making phone calls aboard planes.

The Internet Association, a coalition of internet-based companies that includes Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and others, said it met with Pai on Tuesday to make its case to retain the current rules.

In 2013, the FCC under the Obama administration proposed a bill that might reverse this, which would have effectively lifted the ban on calls while inside airplanes. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which opposed the proposal at that time, welcomed the stay, notes The Washington Post.

The FCC prohibition doesn't cover making calls via Wi-Fi, the Department of Transportation said in December.

The proposal to allow in-flight use of mobile phones had run into much opposition from the public, especially from trade groups representing pilots and flight attendants.

"The Department is also seeking comment on whether disclosure is sufficient or whether it should simply ban voice calls on flights within, to, or from the United States", said the DoT. The decision to turn around the proposition originated from Wheeler's successor, Ajit Pai.

Wheeler's proposal received extensive criticism and the FCC never finalized it. Most of those opposing stated that relaxing the ban could lead to passengers interfering with one another with noisy phone calls. "The traveling public and crew members do not want voice calls on planes", he added.

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