dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
FCC Boss Won't Back Down From Allowing Phone Calls on Planes
by Karl Bode 10:51AM Thursday Dec 12 2013
As the FCC today prepares to vote to begin eliminating the rules governing in-flight cell phone calls, new FCC boss Wheeler continues to defend his push to a public that isn't particularly pleased with the idea of a chattier cabin. Wheeler already explained that with data now showing devices don't interfere with aircraft, the FCC's role as a technology-based agency is done -- and it's now up to the FAA and airlines to govern the social implications of in-flight cell calls.

Click for full size
Apparently feeling that wasn't enough given the width and breadth of user disgust, Wheeler issued another statement yesterday defending the elimination of the rules, strongly suggesting the FCC won't be backing down from the move no matter how much people cry:
quote:
In a statement Wednesday, Wheeler said that he understands “the consternation caused by the thought of your onboard seatmate disturbing the flight making phone calls. I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else. But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission."
After the FCC officially changes the rules, this could go any of several directions.

The rule elimination would allow cellular carriers to charge users exorbitant per minute rates (something they've been pushing for for years), but those rates are so high that the vast majority of flyers won't want to pay them (unless they just use VoIP via Wi-Fi). There's also the possibility that the FAA or airlines themselves will ban phone calls in flight for the sake of a more peaceful cabin (unless they decide to charge you a new fee if you want to sit in a "phone call free area").

view:
topics flat nest 

mixdup

join:2003-06-28
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter

1 edit

Fair point

He does have a point, though. The FCC should rule based strictly on the technical issues involved. Safety, courtesy, and other non-technical or non-telecom business related issues should be left up to agencies that are charged with those duties, like the FAA, or to the carriers, who are ultimately responsible for the in-flight experience of their customers.

This does open the door to using your mobile data instead of having to pay for Gogo, so it's not entirely a bad idea. Plus, the idea of a voice call should be regulated at a higher level than the method of connectivity. If the FCC banned it, not the FAA or carriers, then someone could use VoIP with Gogo and be just as annoying.
slckusr
Premium
join:2003-03-17
Greenville, SC
kudos:1

Re: Fair point

I agree the FCC shouldnt be in the business of dictating manners. Merely the technical issues.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Fair point

It's actually a good sign of progress.

All these people who think a plane is going to become a talking center are failing to realize that it's going to be unlikely that even a single person will be on the phone on a plane at any time, let alone most of the time.

nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

Hidden Tax

Call me cynical but I think what the cell phone companies are really after is [over] charging for data on all of those phones that are accidentally left on. (Or now, on but not placed into airline mode.) Could be billions of dollars.

NickD
Premium
join:2000-11-17
Princeton Junction, NJ

Re: Hidden Tax

People won't keep their phones on if they get billed for it. I'm sure it annoys the cell carriers who have to waste spectrum on multiple towers to try to keep a phone connected while it's flying.
toejam

join:2013-06-14
San Jose, CA

Re: Fair point

I feel the opposite - you'll have those people that just like to talk and being stuck next to one for hours would be brutal!

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101

Re: Fair point

I think I am going to start buying stock in earplugs. I have a feeling they are going to take a upswing.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Fair point

Certainly a smart idea, I do expect a bunch of idiotic people with moral panics freaking out about OMG CELLPHONES IN PLACES.

amarryat
Verizon FiOS

join:2005-05-02
Marshfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
said by toejam:

I feel the opposite - you'll have those people that just like to talk and being stuck next to one for hours would be brutal!

Is that what happens on buses and trains?

workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Comcast
I have tried to use my Verizon phone in our corp jet even just a couple thousand feet in the air and it is a no-go for calls or data. What kind of magic phone/carrier does one need to make this feasible?

Blob

Edit: Our CEO had to resort to expensive Sat phone for Email and calls.
--
Don't try to follow me, I have a cab waiting. EEEEEEEEradicator!
slckusr
Premium
join:2003-03-17
Greenville, SC
kudos:1

Re: Fair point

Thats the bigger issue, but its never been anything to deploy for since using the devices on planes was a no-no, Once the FCC changes those rules we might start to see some new marketing 'Verizon not even the sky is the limit.'
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL
said by workablob:

have tried to use my Verizon phone in our corp jet even just a couple thousand feet in the air and it is a no-go for calls or data. What kind of magic phone/carrier does one need to make this feasible?

Essentially, they'll install femtocells in each plane. Calls will be backhauled to the ground via a satellite link. It'll be similar to the way it's done on cruise ships.

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

Re: Fair point

said by ISurfTooMuch:

said by workablob:

have tried to use my Verizon phone in our corp jet even just a couple thousand feet in the air and it is a no-go for calls or data. What kind of magic phone/carrier does one need to make this feasible?

Essentially, they'll install femtocells in each plane. Calls will be backhauled to the ground via a satellite link. It'll be similar to the way it's done on cruise ships.

In that case, I would be fine with allowing calls if they overcharge for it. This way it would discourage casual calls which are usually annoying.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Fair point

Oh, you can believe they'll overcharge for this. I'm going to guess something like $1.99/minute. And there will be people who will use the service in the mistaken belief that their plan covers it, then freak out when they get the bill.

amarryat
Verizon FiOS

join:2005-05-02
Marshfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
said by ISurfTooMuch:

Calls will be backhauled to the ground via a satellite link.

Doesn't that introduce a significant additional delay into the cell conversation?

jseymour

join:2009-12-11
Waterford, MI
I agree with mixdup's points. The FCC shouldn't engage in social engineering.

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY
It is actually quite surprising to see the FCC take the technical route on this, as they should. After the Lightsquared fiasco, it seemed they were more interested in PR than technology.
--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Fair point

NAh, this is par for the course to attempt to not show bias:

hand the consumers a tiny, tiny win
hand the telcos giant significant wins

everyone appears on the surface to be happy, but this is standard behavior.
wkm001

join:2009-12-14

I would like to see...

Every phone sold in the U.S. be compatible with every wireless network and be unlocked.

smunro622
Premium
join:2006-02-15
Madison Heights, MI

Re: I would like to see...

I am good witht he YAP free zone... i do use gogo inflighht wifi to work last thing i want is a call....i do agree with wkm unlock every phone there is...

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: I would like to see...

I've been on a lot of calls using VoIP and GoGo but it's pretty much impossible to use. The only thing you can really do is listen to the call and use an IM client to relay what you want to say to someone else who is on the call.
--
I do not, have not, and will not work for AT&T/Comcast/Verizon/Charter or similar sized company.

michieru
Premium
join:2009-07-25
Miami, FL

Agreed

This is a common courtesy issue and not a technical one. It's the same as the person next to you blasting music on his headphones, kids jabbering on the plane loudly, or the person behind you kicking your seat. No need for the FCC to get involved.
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: Agreed

Move on people. The already figured it out long ago in NYC on Metro. They have quiet cars, so maybe this means quiet "zones". I remember when I was a kid they had smoking and non smoking sections in the airplane. That worked really well!

I already have kids that will blare their DVD all nigh on international flights, not a joy. So I invested in noise cancelling HP and pure bliss. Maybe they start renting them on flights. More profit!!! This is good for everyone making a buck...

»www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=1···format=2

Besides I find many of the conversations of business people on the planes amusing when they are calling their secretaries to do something that they could easily be doing on their smartphone, but are either too stupid or lazy to do it themselves.

amarryat
Verizon FiOS

join:2005-05-02
Marshfield, MA

Re: Agreed

Not to hijack, but what's your opinion of those headphones? Have you compared them to the bose?
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
And even if the FCC says yes the Airlines still can say no, I highly doubt they will lose business because of lack of ability to make phone calls at 30,000ft since really nobody out there will feel anything negative by not being able to use their phones. Even a business traveler would not be impacted since their company knows they will be in the air.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

Majestik
World Traveler
Premium
join:2001-05-11
Tulsa, OK

Re: Agreed

I've flown first and business class using broadband on a couple of our new 777-300 aircraft to Europe and Brazil last month on American. The passengers I talked to didn't care about using a phone. Moving data and texting was more important to them. Some appear to be directly connected to their secure portal from the company.

I rather just text and surf.
--
The adventure continues...Sanctuary....

bobjohnson
Premium
join:2007-02-03
Orlando, FL
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·T-Mobile US
·Sprint Mobile Br..
For most business travelers including myself the plane trip is the reason for some quiet, no phone calls etc. time. This kind of kills that in theory. Hopefully American/US air will not pick up this service

SpottedCat

join:2004-06-27
Miami, FL

A good compromise: Allow texting

I think allowing texting in flight would be a good compromise. Not only is it less irritating to other passengers but it consumes a lot less bandwidth and is most likely easier to implement, as texting isn't real time; a text message being a few seconds late won't be noticed but a few seconds of lag in a phone call are.

The nanocell on board could even be configured to tell people to text if they try to place a voice call. No need to worry about data; if a passenger wants that they can just buy in-flight Wifi. Being able to send a quick "I'm landing soon" text or just have a quiet text conversation in the air would be amazing.
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: A good compromise: Allow texting

+1 but when there is $$$ to be made, I assure you it will cost you to have peace.

MalibuMaxx
Premium
join:2007-02-06
Chesterton, IN
Should be possible already with go-go and iOS devices using iMessage... over wifi...

buddahbless

join:2005-03-21
Premium
Reviews:
·AT&T DSL Service
I agree with you to allow a quite texting conversation from a passengers seat as long as that passenger does no decide to use any voice to text recognition software. That's all I would care to put up with from the person wedged in this pressurized tin can with me. However We all know if the airlines can make a profit off something they will, so phone calls will be allowed but Id like to see it implemented like the lavatories!

Build a calling booth at the rear and/ or front of the jet next to the lavatories and name it the "calling Booth" since its not really A phone booth. Passengers who need to make a call step into the booth, shut the door, pull out there cell phones and make there call. when there done return to your seat and keep your mouth shut. That would be the perfect implementation to me.

Majestik
World Traveler
Premium
join:2001-05-11
Tulsa, OK

Re: A good compromise: Allow texting

That could work. Can take up half the footprint of a Lav. Maybe a type of stew seat to sit on and buckle up while inside and a drop down table similar to a diaper changing table for writing if needed. It would be very simple to do.
Or maybe something similar to crew sleeping quarters but only on transcon or international.
--
The adventure continues...Sanctuary....

Majestik
World Traveler
Premium
join:2001-05-11
Tulsa, OK
I've used satellite phones on international flights and find that texting is more efficient.
--
The adventure continues...Sanctuary....
masterbinky

join:2011-01-06
Carlsbad, NM

Hmm..I suppose that courtesy goes both ways.

The FCC stays out of it and lets consumers handle the social norms that go with public cell phone use. The person next to you being obnoxious on their sell phone in a subway/flight/bus/train? Ah well, hope they don't mind my singing. Oops, said something obscene in there, better apologize, but loudly so they know I mean it. And on.. and on... Oh man, trolling annoying cell phone users just became a new hobby.

SpottedCat

join:2004-06-27
Miami, FL

1 recommendation

Re: Hmm..I suppose that courtesy goes both ways.

When someone is on the phone in a bathroom stall next to mine I make it a point to flush now and then and do my business as loudly as possible.

There's no reason anyone should be talking on the phone while they take a dump. I'm sorry but that's incredibly disrespectful to the person you are talking to.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast
Then there is the time and place theory on subject matter like talking about controversial or private subject matter in the wrong place at the wrong time (mostly political or personal subject matter). In other words, I don't care to hear your conversation about your colonoscopy results or your views on expanding entitlements. Some conversations may upset some people. Some conversations may gross some people out and other conversations may not be suitable for younger audiences.

When talking on the phone, you need to be aware of those around you and people can and do eavesdrop. Calls on the go are no longer tied to the phone booth.
--
I've experienced ImOn (when they were McLeod USA), Mediacom, Comcast, and Time Warner and I currently have DirecTV. They are much better than broadcast TV.

I have not and will not cut the cord.

lineofsight

join:2003-01-03
East Saint Louis, IL

I believe in the free market not government control over speech

Let's let the market decide what is right. We don't need the government in the middle of it. Let the airlines decide what they want to do, then let the public decide which airlines they are willing to ride on.

TelecomEng

@cisco.com

If you have ever dealt with the FAA...

You know this has only slightly better than snowball's chance in hell of getting approved by them.

If you have never dealt with the FAA, let's just say it is an agency that has a reputation amongst those in aviation, from the GA Cessna pilot to the ATP flying you around in an Airbus, for being more picky than the IRS.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Let the dough roll in

I'm sure there are people that will pay a $3.50 connection fee and $0.69 a minute (charged to their phone bill) to use the phone in flight.

I'm sure the airlines and the telcos are for it because they'll make it a premium service that is not included in your rate plan and split the profits.

I'm sure texts will be $0.75 per message sent or received and data will be $20 per GB.