Mobile device users on planes might soon be getting another good news if the FCC has its way. In a December 12 meeting, the commission will be tackling the issue of restrictions to cellphone use during flights, particularly making and receiving phone calls.
This seems to be part of a trend in revising the country’s regulations on the use of electronic devices inside airplanes. Late last month, the FAA approved the use of Portable Electronic Devices (PED) such as e-book readers, music players, and even smartphones and tablets on all phases of the flight, including take off and landing. Provided, of course, that they are set to Airplane Mode all throughout.
Now FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is implying that even that last caveat might be unnecessary. He believes that current rules are outdated and restrictive and in need of review and revision. He claims that technology has caught up to the problem and it is possible to safely deliver mobile services in the air without interfering with ground service. And the first such service the FCC wants to be approved soon will be voice calls.
Of course, the FCC’s opinion alone does not have the power to make this happen and it will have to discuss and work with the FAA and other parties as well. Aside from technical considerations, this will also be a rather difficult balancing act, as giving passengers the opportunity to make phone calls on the plane might disturb other passengers or disrupt important announcements.