You may get to make phone calls while 30,000 feet high in an airplane sooner rather than later. The Federal Communications Commission officially started debating today to review the agency's 22-year ban on using cell phones on commercial aircraft during flight. F-C-C Chairman Thomas Wheeler told members of Congress that there is no longer any technical reason to prohibit calls on planes; and that rescinding the ban would be the right thing to do.
Such calls were forbidden for more than two decades because of concerns they would interfere with cellular networks on the ground. However, technological advances have changed all that. Any aircraft that has the new technology installed would allow passengers to make calls, text, email and surf the web.
The F-C-C proposal comes just weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its restrictions on using personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet. The F-A-A says such devices don't interfere with cockpit instruments.
Calling the current rules "outdated and restrictive," Wheeler says he would rather let airlines have the final say on in-flight calling, not the government. But not everyone agrees. A republican congressman from Oregon plans to introduce a bill to prohibit talking on cell phones during flights. And in fact, the latest Associated Press-GFK poll finds that 48 percent of Americans don't want to be subjected to voice calls while flying. Only 19 percent support it. Another 30 percent are neutral.