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Lobbyists push the FCC to not reverse cellphone ban during flights

Lobbyists are asking the FCC to keep the ban during airline flights.
By
September 19, 2014
CellphonesAirplanesInflight

In 1991, cellular devices were banned from use during airline flights due to concerns over potential interference with cellular ground networks and “concerns that electromagnetic emissions might unintentionally affect aircraft communications, navigation, flight control, and electronic equipment.”

Then in January of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to consider whether to reverse its 23-year-old ban by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which allowed for cellular communications above 10,000 feet. Even if the ban is reversed, the FCC will still allow the airlines to decide on whether to permit the use of data, text, and/or voice services while airborne.

Now, lobbyists are asking the FCC to keep in place the cellular ban. The Association of Flight Attendants and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) are just two of the groups against the change.

“We’re not arguing [cellular calls while in flight] is not technologically feasible,” Shane Downey, director of public policy for GBTA. Rather, the group’s members are uniformly against the idea of passengers talking or listening to others talk on their phones during flight. But Downey said his group’s objection goes beyond the annoyance factor. “There’s a security aspect to it.” Cellphones “could be a potential tool for terrorists to exploit.” – InformationWeek

Downey then was unable to answer the question of whether terrorists could communicate using the in-flight WiFi service that airlines provide today.