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FCC To Consider Cellphone Use On Planes

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the leave-your-electronic-devices-on dept.

United States 183

aitikin writes "The Federal Communications Commission is expected to propose allowing passengers to use their cellphones on airplanes. While phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and landing, the proposal would lift an FCC ban on airborne calls and cellular data use by passengers once a flight reaches 10,000 feet. From the article: 'The move would lift a regulatory hurdle, but any use of cellphones on planes would still have to be approved by the airlines, which have said they would approach the issue cautiously due to strong objections from their customers. Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.'"

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please don't (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | about 8 months ago | (#45486729)

I think this would lead to in-flight homicide.

Re:please don't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486881)

No, just research:

Does wearing the phone as a suppository enable the user to fly?

Re:please don't (1)

Mashdar (876825) | about 8 months ago | (#45487403)

Better shove the participant out of the aircraft door just to be sure.

Re: please don't (4, Insightful)

MrKaos (858439) | about 8 months ago | (#45486935)

I think this would lead to in-flight homicide.

I can imagine a situation where someone who can't exert any impulse control gets on a mobile phone while the rest of the cabin is trying to sleep, a very real risk of on-board assaults from tired and frustrated travelers.

Re: please don't (4, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#45487089)

The real risk is that the plane is full of polite British travellers who are too reserved to punch the caller and instead just tut noisily for 12 hours.

The safety demonstration needs to include a demonstration of how to safely and effectively disable the goatfucker who takes out his 'phone. Perhaps it could include step-by-step advice on how to break the equipment without causing a fire hazard by piercing the li-ion battery.

Re: please don't (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487465)

The real risk is that the plane is full of polite British travellers who are too reserved to punch the caller and instead just tut noisily for 12 hours.

The safety demonstration needs to include a demonstration of how to safely and effectively disable the goatfucker who takes out his 'phone. Perhaps it could include step-by-step advice on how to break the equipment without causing a fire hazard by piercing the li-ion battery.

effectively disable the goatfucker? Nice.

People sit in a tube with 150+ other people at night and expect it to be as peaceful as their own private bedroom? Ah, reality doesn't have an altitude limit there, genius.

And if external noise bothers you that much and you don't own headphones, then you're far too fucking stupid to fly.

Re: please don't (3, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45487763)

you could dump your drink on him or her. that would do the trick for the phone without actual violence. Also, it is within the capability of most hominids.

Re: please don't (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45487113)

Well if the on-board femtocell repeaters work well enough, you won't have people shouting into their phones, other than to overcome cabin/engine noise. I could see requiring earbuds, (and who wouldn't want that anyway).
With ear buds, you can carry on a conversation just as quietly as talking between people sitting adjacent.

But it requires a good connection. I rather suspect the airlines will put in repeaters than promptly price it out of most people's comfort zone.

The most annoying thing would be people putting it on speaker phone so they could check something on their calendar while they talk. Gurrrrrr!

Re: please don't (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 8 months ago | (#45487175)

I think this would lead to in-flight homicide.

I can imagine a situation where someone who can't exert any impulse control gets on a mobile phone while the rest of the cabin is trying to sleep, a very real risk of on-board assaults from tired and frustrated travelers.

If I were on the jury I'd refuse to convict those guilty of assault, provided they used no (improvised) weapons and stopped once their point had been made.

It's a shitty sign of the times that, so often, you can no longer politely ask someone to stop being annoying. They'll get "offended" and belligerent instead of being enough of a person to recognize that you had cause. Accepting a legitimate and polite correction is now viewed as a sign of weakness or submission. That's the cause of a great deal of violence, in fact nearly all violence that is not state-sponsored.

The social fabric is currently as unsustainable as the financial edifice of society. It makes me wonder if it will change course. What you said about impulse control has everything to do with having a little discipline and personal responsibility (it wouldn't take much). These things aren't "fun" or "entertaining" to acquire so more and more people can't be bothered. Am I alone in witnessing how tragic this is? Assholes with phones here, idiots gathering to chat and blocking doorways there, someone running off the road (or over the median) because their call or burger or makeup is more important to them elsewhere -- these little things are merely symptoms.

Re: please don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487311)

It's a shitty sign of the times that, so often, you can no longer politely ask someone to stop being annoying. They'll get "offended" and belligerent instead of being enough of a person to recognize that you had cause. Accepting a legitimate and polite correction is now viewed as a sign of weakness or submission. That's the cause of a great deal of violence, in fact nearly all violence that is not state-sponsored.

So pretty-please, with sugar on it, shut the fuck up.

Re: please don't (1)

drakaan (688386) | about 8 months ago | (#45487365)

(paraphrasing) "Damn. You sent in the wolf? Shit, that's all you had to say!"

Re: please don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487815)

The question I wonder is, when are we going to see cellphones implement sidetone [wikipedia.org] ? Or perhaps there might be apps for that on Android and iOS...

Re: please don't (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#45487749)

well just about every plane I've been on already has expensive calling options..

just don't fly domestic(roaming is friggin expensive too, especially if you don't know when you're switching to roaming since the call is on..)

Re:please don't (5, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#45487693)

And you'd be wrong. Seriously America is behind the times on the issue. I've taken several international flights where cellphone use was permitted and a) it didn't lead to endless chatting due to obscene international roaming calls, and b) if someone was on the phone more than 2-3 seats away you couldn't hear them anyway over the noise of the engines.

Here comes the flood.... (0, Flamebait)

metrix007 (200091) | about 8 months ago | (#45486749)

Here comes the flood of people complaining about having to listen to other people talking...

Even though it's really no different to people talking to the person next to them, or having to put up with watching or listening to whatever movie they put on, or other conversations, or bullshit safety messages, etc etc.

It adds convenience for people. If you don't like it, nothing changes. Use earbuds/headphones/eyemask as per normal.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (4, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | about 8 months ago | (#45486765)

Here comes the flood of people complaining about having to listen to other people talking...

Even though it's really no different to people talking to the person next to them

Except people tend to talk louder on the phone than in person... and you're trapped next them for the next n hours.

Put the phone down. It won't hurt. I promise.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486809)

Or not

“It’s very emotional in the United States,” said Benoit Debains, the chief executive of OnAir. He insisted that the anxiety was overblown. For one thing, he and other industry executives said, standard cabin noise covers up much conversational noise, yet people with cellphones pressed to their ears in that environment somehow do not feel the need to speak louder to compensate.

“I remember on the first flight we did, we asked one guy, ‘What do you think about using the phone for voice in the cabin?’ He said he was against it. But we said, ‘You know, the guy across from you has been using his phone for the last five minutes.’ ”

Emirates executives have even heard from skeptical pilots and flight attendants who mistakenly believed “the system was on but nobody was using it” on a particular flight, he said. “And I was able to go back to them and say, well 63 people had their phones on, and there were 22 phone calls and 68 messages.”

He added, “They were thinking it must be broken because they don’t hear anybody using it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/technology/29phones.html

Re:Here comes the flood.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486975)

“I remember on the first flight we did, we asked one guy, ‘What do you think about using the phone for voice in the cabin?’ He said he was against it. But we said, ‘You know, the guy across from you has been using his phone for the last five minutes.’ ”

Draw your own conclusion as to why he was against it.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45487163)

standard cabin noise covers up much conversational noise, yet people with cellphones pressed to their ears in that environment somehow do not feel the need to speak louder to compensate.

And right there you have the crux of the problem. This guy does not understand human nature.
When people can't hear, they shout.

Without a headset requirement, there will be shouting.
And most phone speakers are so weak you have trouble hearing in even a slightly loud environment. People will resort to the speaker phone function and then you get to listen to both sides of every conversation at once.

The best way to get people to talk softer is to require them to use earbuds or headsets.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487971)

You seem to be ignoring almost everything he wrote.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#45487207)

The CEO who stands to make tens of millions of dollars from this says its a good thing? Well, gee, guess I better just take his word for it.

Anyone who talks on the phone next to me on a plane will have my elbow in their side for the duration of the phone call. It's only fair.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 8 months ago | (#45488069)

International airline have been doing this for years. They don't have complaints. I'll take real world experiences, which have been studied out, over someone whiner's random post on ./. Normally I'd be all anti-establishment, but the potential backlash is really too much for them to ignore if it's an actual problem.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 8 months ago | (#45486819)

Except people tend to talk louder on the phone than in person

And they'll be screaming over the jet engines on top of that tendency.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45488021)

Its not just volume, often times its content as well⦠When both conversation partners are in the same area they (for the most part) act as a check on the other person, preventing either of them from getting involved in conversation topics that might beâ¦unpleasant⦠for anyone else in the vicinity. However if you put one of the people in an entirely different place, perhaps a place where they have some privacy(aside from the NSA of course :P) then that person no longer feels any sort of social pressure to keep the conversation pleasant. And humans being humans, if the person you are talking to is talking about something nasty, then naturally it piques your interest and you start to forget where you are, as our monkey brains haven't quite evolved to adapt to phones quite yet. The result is people discussing problems in public that they really shouldn't. I have heard people talking about their STDs on a cell phone, not something I think said person would have been discussing if the other person had actually been in the same room.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 8 months ago | (#45486831)

Some people talk louder on the phone. Not all, or even most people.

There have been phones on planes for some times now. It hasn't hurt anyone.

What? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 8 months ago | (#45486847)

Can you speak a bit louder? There is this loud whirring noise in the background!

Re:What? (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 8 months ago | (#45487155)

Must be on your end, since I have a decent microphone in my phone.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487247)

I have recorded videos in an airplane, there was absolutely no noise at all. Any half decent noise cancellation can deal well with airplane noise.

Re:What? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 8 months ago | (#45487993)

It was a joke.. *sigh*

Re:Here comes the flood.... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 8 months ago | (#45486927)

Of course there's no problems. Of all the flights I've taken, I haven't seen a single person ever use the in-seat phone.

This will self correct (1)

erice (13380) | about 8 months ago | (#45487619)

For the first few weeks it may be obnoxious. Then the chatterboxes will get their bills. There will be much screaming (not on the airplanes) and word will get around that using a cell phone on an airplane is really expensive and not something that one should actually do unless the matter is urgent.

You know, sort of like the air phones we have now.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487621)

Here comes the flood of people complaining about having to listen to other people talking...

Even though it's really no different to people talking to the person next to them

Except people tend to talk louder on the phone than in person... and you're trapped next them for the next n hours.

Put the phone down. It won't hurt. I promise.

I'm not quite sure what century most are arguing about, but I promise you it isn't the current one.

Who the hell talks into a cell phone anymore? All I see is mumbling, headphones, and soon-to-be-arthritic thumbs.

Re:Here comes the flood, FFC follows Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45488253)

The only reason the FCC is bothered with this is because Europe removed the ban (the BBC reported it, not sure if /. bothered posting a story about it) however there is a ban for takeoffs and landings.

And if they allow you to bring MP3 or digital player, instead of putting up with the person around you either yelling on the phone, or yapping about petty shit, you could wear headphones, some planes allow headphones to watch a movie or show. If it becomes a problem and there are enough complaints the airliners may want to create a lounge room for those that need to yap on there phones. I could care what people do, I can ignore it, but if someone feels comfortable yapping on there phone next to total strangers it explains a lot when it comes to US citizens not really objecting to NSA surveillance.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486861)

Here comes the flood of people complaining about having to listen to other people talking...

Even though it's really no different to people talking to the person next to them, or having to put up with watching or listening to whatever movie they put on, or other conversations, or bullshit safety messages, etc etc.

It adds convenience for people. If you don't like it, nothing changes. Use earbuds/headphones/eyemask as per normal.

Translation: Metrix007 expects you to put up with his personality disorder, but doesn't want to have to put up with yours.

Re:Here comes the flood.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487071)

When was the last time you've been on a plane? The things are so damn loud that you could not possibly have a cell phone conversation during flight. Cue two people in the same row trying to have a conversation.

At least on the Amtrak you can actually go to the sections between the cars and use your phone, and nobody else has to listen to you.

Hearing half a conversation (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#45487313)

Even though it's really no different to people talking to the person next to them

Hearing half a conversation is worse [cornell.edu] than hearing a whole conversation.

Trigger Happy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486755)

*ringtone*
*pulls out GIANT brick phone*

What!?!

No!!!!

I'm on an airplane!!!!

I'm on an airplane!!!!

No!!!

What?!?!?!?

I'm on an airplane!!!!

Yes, an airplane!!!

No, I can talk!!!!

What?!?!?!?!

No, I can talk!!!!

HELLO? (5, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | about 8 months ago | (#45486779)

HELLO! GLADYS? I'M ON THE PLANE! I CAN SEE CLOUDS! ONE LOOKS LIKE A RUTABAGA! DO YOU THINK THAT MEANS ANYTHING? SO HOW WAS YOUR DAY? WAIT SOMEONE NEXT TO ME IS TRYING TO GET MY ATTENTION. EXCUSE ME CAN'T YOU SEE I'M ON THE PHONE? HOW RUDE!

great, now I have to bypass the yelling filter... sdlfjals;kdfjakl; sklsfdlkas; lsdksdk lsk dslk sdl ksdlk; dsl;sd ldslklsd klds;l dsl;k ksdkl;sdlkdskl; sd;klsdk l; sdkllks;d skdl; skldkl;ds k;ldskldsklsfjlskdfk sdl lks dklds lks;dlk ds ;klsdlk dsdkls slkldkslk;d;klsdkl dsl;skd l;kds ksdl; sdkldslk sldk;l kdsk;lsd lkkl;ds ds ;klsd kl;kdsl; k;ldsksd kl k;sdkl;sl;kd klsd;lkds l;kdslk sd;lkk; lsd;lkds l;ksd;klds ;klsdkldsl;k sd ;lksd ;klsd l;ksdl;k sd lk;dsl ;ksdl ;kds l;kds l;kdskl ;sdklsd k;l;sdkl;klsd;klsd kl;ds k;lds; lksdkl; ds;kl sdkl ;sdl ksd klsd; lkdsk ldsklsd;lkds ;lkds ;lkds ;klds; lksd;kl

Bus (1, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#45486807)

Cell phone use is allowed on busses (metro and inter-city), and it doesn't seem to be a huge problem there. Why should I assume that planes would be significantly worse?

Re:Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486843)

Plane rides take a lot longer, and you can't move around as much.....

Re:Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486879)

Metro and inter-city rides will often take longer than a plane flight.

Re:Bus (2)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#45487289)

In a metro system of even moderate size you can be on the same bus traveling in the same direction for 2+ hours. That's not a long plane ride, but it's not a trivial amount of time either. And inter-city routes can obviously be much longer.

Re:Bus (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45487805)

yeah but air travel sucks. even before you get on the plane you're hauling your bags to the airport, waiting an hour at security, some guy's grabbing your nuts. Then the plane is cramped and you're jammed in with other people. it's hard to get up let alone walk around. planes are a much more stressful experience than buses.

Re:Bus (0)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 8 months ago | (#45486869)

Cell phone use is allowed on busses (metro and inter-city), and it doesn't seem to be a huge problem there. Why should I assume that planes would be significantly worse?

In buses you don't have to talk over the sound of jet engines or air whipping by at 500mph. Especially if you are flying in a plane with fuselage mounted engines like MD-88/90s/DC-9/717 and are sitting near the engines.

Re:Bus (2)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#45487263)

That's right. You only have to speak over the sound of the diesel engine, the wind noise, the traffic noise, and the road noise.

Airplane cabins are probably someplace in the 70-80 dB range, depending on the type of plane and where you are sitting. That's just about what you'd expect from moderate traffic that includes large vehicles or high speeds. I'm sure there are some buses that are quieter than planes, but it doesn't strike me as a major difference.

Verbal diarrhea (4, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 8 months ago | (#45486873)

Cell phones not a problem on busses and trains?
Have you ever took a train during rush hour?
Terror right there.

Re:Verbal diarrhea (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#45487339)

Have you ever took a train during rush hour?

*taken. Granted, your grammar is still better than most of those talking on phones in public.

Re:Bus (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 8 months ago | (#45487195)

You can change your seat on the Bus and you don't typically ride the bus for 4 hours.

There are two VERY big reasons. I don't want to sit next to a guy discussing his hemorrhoid problem with his wife (or having a shouting argument with her) when I can't get away from him.

Re:Bus (1)

profplump (309017) | about 8 months ago | (#45487309)

Says a man who has obviously never take a bus from Minneapolis to St. Louis -- 18 hours over 3 buses, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder the whole way with no more freedom to move around than you'd have in a plane.

And that's not even a long bus trip.

Re:Bus (2)

neonmonk (467567) | about 8 months ago | (#45487373)

Yes it is.

Re:Bus (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#45487237)

On the bus, you can get up and take another seat away from the asshole with the phone.

Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (1)

billrp (1530055) | about 8 months ago | (#45486883)

I thought there's little or no signal strength at 10,000 feet above ground level, wireless antennas are designed for ground coverage, not reaching anything in the sky.

Re:Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486953)

I know this is slashdot, but c'mon. In the summary:

Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.

Re:Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#45486973)

Dude, I can understand not RTFA. But it's there in TFS. They'll have microcells on the plane.

Of course, the question is, CDMA or GSM?

And I don't want the guy next to me shouting into his phone for the next 5 hours.

Re:Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487217)

The answer is "yes", and probably multiple bands of each to ensure compatibility with all phones.

What would be nice is on your third outgoing call (or after 10 minutes airtime per flight hour) to polite inform both parties that taking phonecalls on public transport is rude, and that the guy on the phone is a douchebag. Have the message get more obnoxious after each call.

Re:Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 8 months ago | (#45487117)

Even the summary mentions the planes needing special equipment to talk to the towers on the ground.

Re:Is there wireless signal above 10,000 feet? (2)

billrp (1530055) | about 8 months ago | (#45487187)

If you look at wireless signal strength maps like this http://www.datasync.com/~rsf1/cell-air.htm [datasync.com] you will see there are gaps in vertical coverage - where there's no signal. So I don't see how even any special equipment in planes can work with such low signal levels. (The old airfones used a different communication connection)

brave new world (1)

itchybrain (2538928) | about 8 months ago | (#45486889)

1970s: "Would you like smoking or non-smoking?"

2010s: "Would you like quiet or non-quiet?"

2090s:"Would you like stasis or non-stasis?"

I see $$$ signs! (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 8 months ago | (#45486895)

Airlines will love this. Even at $1/minute, passengers will rake up pretty good bills by the end of the flight. And I doubt they will stop at a buck a minute, because above 10k feet, well, they got you by the balls.

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if the airline mafia were behind this, with large paychecks for the FCC officials who push this through.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 8 months ago | (#45486931)

Airlines will love this. Even at $1/minute, passengers will rake up pretty good bills by the end of the flight. And I doubt they will stop at a buck a minute, because above 10k feet, well, they got you by the balls.

Many airlines already have phones installed in the backs of seats that passengers can use, and have for some time now. You pay for them by credit card. In the countless times I have flown I have yet to see someone actually use them. I can assure you the airlines have not been raking in the money with that.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487259)

It was used by business class travelers. If you're already paying $5k for the ticket, expensing $50/call to remain productive during a flight isn't a massive imposition.

The reason why it was VERY expensive is because it was using satellite bandwidth. Before Iridium.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#45487439)

Airlines will love this. Even at $1/minute, passengers will rake up pretty good bills by the end of the flight. And I doubt they will stop at a buck a minute, because above 10k feet, well, they got you by the balls.

Many airlines already have phones installed in the backs of seats that passengers can use, and have for some time now. You pay for them by credit card. In the countless times I have flown I have yet to see someone actually use them. I can assure you the airlines have not been raking in the money with that.

Yes, but the psychology is different.

With the existing phones you have to physically pay before hand. It doesn't matter what the cost is, having to shell out coin before hand is a serious psychological block.

Now if you allow people to use their own phones, even if it's at a higher cost (roaming charges) people wont think about the cost because they dont have to pay it up front. Instead they'll just bitch about "bill shock" when they receive a $1400 mobile phone bill from making phone calls through out their flight.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (3, Insightful)

petman (619526) | about 8 months ago | (#45487447)

The phones on the backs of seats can only be used to make, not receive, calls. OTOH, with cellphones, the airlines can impose a surcharge for both outgoing and incoming calls, much like with carrier roaming. There's also data roaming. So yes, the airlines to stand to make big bucks on this if they play it right.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#45487923)

Airlines will love this. Even at $1/minute, passengers will rake up pretty good bills by the end of the flight. And I doubt they will stop at a buck a minute, because above 10k feet, well, they got you by the balls.

Many airlines already have phones installed in the backs of seats that passengers can use, and have for some time now. You pay for them by credit card. In the countless times I have flown I have yet to see someone actually use them. I can assure you the airlines have not been raking in the money with that.

Well I have used them, they're fine for a quick call, but they're hard to hear over the low quality and loud engines.

BA have phased them out on the new planes, and turned them off about a year ago on the old planes.

But then I remember flying back in 2008 on TAP when in flight mobiles were allowed. The problem wasn't people talking, it was the teenagers who didn't know how to put their text message tone on "silent"

Re:I see $$$ signs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487443)

So get the person at the other end to call you - they can't charge you for an incoming call. What I can see airlines doing is having "no mobile phone" zones, and charging extra, in the way they used to have "no smoking" before that was banned on the entire plane.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487883)

So get the person at the other end to call you - they can't charge you for an incoming call.

Good one! I can't believe this hasn't already been modified +5 funny! You're just not getting any respect.

Re:I see $$$ signs! (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#45487915)

Airlines will love this. Even at $1/minute, passengers will rake up pretty good bills by the end of the flight. And I doubt they will stop at a buck a minute, because above 10k feet, well, they got you by the balls.

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if the airline mafia were behind this, with large paychecks for the FCC officials who push this through.

I don't know about US plans, but typical intercontinental roaming rates for UK phone contracts are well above $2 a minute, nearer $3.

Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (5, Insightful)

ad454 (325846) | about 8 months ago | (#45486897)

There was never any safety issues with using a cell phone anytime during flight. If there was, don't you think that planes would be dropping like flies from every nutcase and terrorist turing on (or leaving on) their cell phones?

It was disallowed because it cut into airline revenue from expensive airplane to satellite phones. However now that airlines are deploying micro-cells, with huge roaming fees, guess with, its now magically time to remove cell phone restrictions. But only when the planes are above 10000 feet, in order to allow these micro-cells to override ground based cell towers, and insure roaming revenue.

Below 10000 feet, the in-flight cell phone ban must remain in place, since it is much easier to bypass the micro-cells in planes and connect directly (and cheaply) to a ground based cell towers.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 8 months ago | (#45486943)

But only when the planes are above 10000 feet, in order to allow these micro-cells to override ground based cell towers, and insure roaming revenue.

Below 10000 feet, the in-flight cell phone ban must remain in place, since it is much easier to bypass the micro-cells in planes and connect directly (and cheaply) to a ground based cell towers.

Or, you know, the aircraft is still climbing and is therefore more likely to encounter problems. Fewer distractions means the passengers can listen to crew instructions instead of posting last minute "OMG I'm gonna die!" selfies to Instagram. 10k feet is cruising altitude, and is also when passengers are allowed to move around (and also when flight crew starts moving around as well-they stay seated as well during climbing/descending).

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 8 months ago | (#45487637)

10k feet is cruising altitude

Looks like we're going to need a bigger plane. The only planes that would be cruising at 10k feet would be non-pressurized ones. Even on a short hop, a jet is going to be cruising at least 25,000 feet.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (1, Offtopic)

Ichijo (607641) | about 8 months ago | (#45487095)

It's an example of the wealthy oppressing the poor, like laws that prohibit crossing the street between intersections even when it doesn't violate any vehicle's right of way. Or laws that require bicyclists to stick to the right edge of the roadway when other slow-moving vehicles don't have to.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#45487133)

If you think it's easy to connect a call at 9500 feet, you're high.

Also cellphones distract people way more than talking in person - and we don't want 300 people distracted during take-off and landing, just in case there are hiccups.

Finally, it's the worst time for something to go wrong. So, while modern planes shouldn't have a problem with calls being made/received, you still want to check.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487555)

If you think it's easy to connect a call at 9500 feet, you're high.

Well yeah. 9500 feet high. You just said that.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (1)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | about 8 months ago | (#45488267)

I connect all the time at 9500 feet. Maybe because I live in Cripple Creek, CO.

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487215)

No that's the tinfoil hat reason.

The actual reason is that if screws up the ground based cell towers, which used to be a lot more true in the AMPS era because the antennas were not sectorized and power was measured in watts.

Current TD-LTE, standard can hit 160 watts.Old AMPS was 250 watts and could reach 25 miles. That includes straight up in the air. One analog cell phone left on in the air, results in every single tower with line of sight of the plane to try and handover to it. It just screws things up too much.

Most sectorized cell towers do not point up, they point in 15 to 90 degree angles (which is why you see more antennas on the top of buildings near shopping and are pointed in a way that usually limits the transmission reach to about 2 miles. Basically each tower is setup for customer efficiency.

As for satellite phones on airplanes, nobody ever uses those, and not just for cost reasons. How often do you think 2 hours into your flight, you need to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday? Not very, you can wait till you get home. People only make emergency calls on phones they don't own. How often do you see people use pay phones? Even before cell phones, you never saw every single payphone in use. The last two times I used a payphone, both were on transit ... One was a ship (ferry) and the other was at an airport lobby. Both were because I had thought I had lost some item at the airport, and it was cheaper to make a long distance call from a payphone than it was my cell phone. FYI, cell phones on ferries work, but only if you're within ... 2 miles of land. The internet service provided by the ferry is done over GSM, same with the internet service on Amtrak (train.)

Re:Ban Removed Due to New Revenue From Micro-Cells (3, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#45487757)

It was disallowed because it cut into airline revenue from expensive airplane to satellite phones.

Sorry to spoil your capitalist conspiracy but it was banned due to the technical issues around the air interface. Specifically Cell Reselection became a major headache where the signal would rapidly hop from one tower to the other. Changing cells presents quite a burden on the infrastructure as calls are re-routed and resources are allocated. A plane full of talking phones while flying over a city will very quickly lead to dropped calls as 15 subscribers bounce to a cell at the same time and then move on seconds later.

Then there's also issues regarding the radio signal itself. There's cells on the market specifically intended to be installed on high-speed rail lines. They throw most other requirements out the window in favour of high gain and directionality (reduce the number of handovers required in a trip), and using fancy patented radio voodoo to get the GSM to work at a speed higher than 250km/h.

See for a long time you couldn't use your phone on a high-speed rail either. Well it wasn't banned, but it just plain didn't work for more than a few seconds at a time.
The existence of micro-cells and re-routing calls via satellite overcomes these technical hurdles.

Telco Billing (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 8 months ago | (#45486909)

If you consider it when a cellular phone is in the air it is an equal distance from several towers, so it is effectively difficult for the telcos to bill the users properly and the airline to get a cut - so tell people it's a safety issue and they can't use it. More likely the safety issues, which bring an airline down because of on-board mobile phone use are yet to be discovered.

Just hope I'm not on the aircraft that reveals the problem.

Re:Telco Billing (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 8 months ago | (#45487165)

If you consider it when a cellular phone is in the air it is an equal distance from several towers, so it is effectively difficult for the telcos to bill the users properly and the airline to get a cut - so tell people it's a safety issue and they can't use it. More likely the safety issues, which bring an airline down because of on-board mobile phone use are yet to be discovered.

Just hope I'm not on the aircraft that reveals the problem.

That was one of the rumors as to why the ban went into effect in the first place, "Big Telco" didn't like it. Never saw anything factual to support that theory,* just what people were saying, even the owners of the cell phone store where I worked briefly in the 1990s.

*Not that it can't be true, I just never saw any documentation supporting it, and I never really looked.

There is an antisocial behavior precedent (1)

bradm (27075) | about 8 months ago | (#45486999)

In the bad old days, when there was another antisocial behavior that profoundly affected the innocent victims in adjacent seats, we divided the plane into smoking and non smoking sections. There was leakage from section to section, but at least it wasn't in your face.

Many Amtrak trains have a highly desirable "quiet car",which helps to separate those the see the trip along the east coast as a continuous sales call opportunity from those that see the trip as a continuous concentration or sleeping opportunity.

So, I'm all for allowing calls on planes, provided I can book a seat in the STFU section for no extra cost. Especially if it saves me from taking a transatlantic flight surrounded by a gaggle of teenagers that think it's a Beatles concert and not a redeye.

Re:There is an antisocial behavior precedent (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#45487149)

I'd prefer a "loud car" in trains, with the assumption of civil behaviour required in all others. And each seat in the "loud car" should have a lubed crowbar embedded in it, provided to help the loud passengers remove their heads from their own backsides.

Re:There is an antisocial behavior precedent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487315)

Easy solution:

Last ten rows are families with small children and cell phone calls. Put a soundproof partition in front of them and ban both in all other rows.

Re:There is an antisocial behavior precedent (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 8 months ago | (#45487837)

I've taken a night train across Canada. Insomniacs, infants and phone users were courteous enough to venture to the refreshments lounge, where they were screening the BTTF trilogy.

On buses and cattle-class planes there's generally no common area to rest away from one's seat.

Why not just 3G/4G and SMS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487091)

Given that I can't imagine the pain of sitting next to a chatty teenager on a multi-hour flight, why not just let SMS and/or 3G/4G through and block voice? If you need to send a text, check email, download porn, whatever, then go for your life, but please don't make me listen to the voices of the unwashed rabble

Good Lord Stop Teasing Me! (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 8 months ago | (#45487121)

I've been hearing this for DECADES and it never happens.

Re:Good Lord Stop Teasing Me! (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#45487933)

I've been hearing this for DECADES and it never happens.

Choose a different carrier if you're that bothered. Emirates offer it on 300 flights a day.

Please don't (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 8 months ago | (#45487353)

I am calling all scientists out there to fudge their data and show that the moment a call exceeds 30 seconds that the plane is more likely to crash than not. Can you imagine an 8 hour flight beside some bubble brain blabbing the whole time on their phone:

"Mary said, to John that I told Sue what Jane said about Mark... Yeah I would so love to get high with him. Did you see what Mary was wearing at John's on Friday, I wouldn't be caught dead in that, it is sooooo 2012. I gave my phone to this geeky neighbour who I have friendzoned soooo hard; so anyway he put this giant battery in it so I can now talk for like 2 days straight. Anyhoo I have those new shoes, ya the ones with the red, anyway I got them and they hurt my feet so much and after I went home with that guy... no I don't know his name.. well anyway the ass made me walk down his 2 mile long driveway the next morning and now they're ruined, ya you're right I should sue him. So now I have to ask my baby daddy to buy me another pair, or I won't let him see his kid at my step-mother's. Ya I spent my whole paycheque on them. I don't know, do you know, then who knows, do you know anyone who knows someone who knows. Ya so anyway all the people on this plane are so boring, no Vogue, No Elle, Nothing. The only thing I can see is some guy near me reading something called the Eco Mist. Boring. It has a picture of that Hispanic guy who's president or something......."

NO! (0)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 8 months ago | (#45487473)

There's *no* reason for using a cell phone on a plane. Besides, some of those birds are pretty old and were designed before cell phones existed.

Re:NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487685)

There's *no* reason for using a cell phone on a plane. Besides, some of those birds are pretty old and were designed before cell phones existed.

So, I'm guessing these old birds shouldn't be allowing advanced stuff like streaming radio, video, tablets or laptops on board, right?

The age of the plane is about as relevant as the age of your underwear. If you're that worried, maybe you shouldn't be flying in a 30-year old tube at 35,000 feet.

Re:NO! (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#45487951)

There's *no* reason for using a cell phone on a plane.

Citation needed.

Here's a reason: I want to phone home and talk to my wife and child
Here's another reason: I want to join a conference call, which is tricky enough to arrange in the first place with people in the States, Europe and Asia all on it.

Re:NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45488101)

You missed one: fuck you I'm important look at my phone!

if turning on your phone could crash the plane... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487481)

wouldn't al-qaeda just buy like 30 tickets and all turn their phones on at the same time?

NO WAY IN HELL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487503)

Well, this will pretty much guarantee I'll NEVER fly again (unless forced to for work.) It's bad enough the second the plane hits the ground everyone whips out their phones to have inane babble conversations with loved ones for minutes on end subjecting you to have to listen to half a conversation. Is there ANYTHING that can't wait the 5 minutes until we taxi to the gate and you get OFF the plane before calling to discuss???

There seriously are going to be HUGE fights on planes if they allow this crap...

Getting a signal to the ground (1)

sandbagger (654585) | about 8 months ago | (#45487559)

>Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.

How those people aboard the doomed aircraft on Sept 11 were all able to make phone calls again?

Re:Getting a signal to the ground (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#45487955)

>Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.

How those people aboard the doomed aircraft on Sept 11 were all able to make phone calls again?

By flying low. I rarely get a signal above 10k foot, and have never managed to get one above 20k foot.

Make the planes repeaters back to the ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487673)

If they made the planes repeaters back to ground based phones, you could pretty much cover every square foot of North America with cell service. You are almost always within line of sight to a commercial aircraft everywhere and at any time in NA.

I see jammers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487843)

Unlike a jammer in a restaurant, where the FCC can fairly easily find it, a suitable jammer in your carryon that causes calls to drop randomly every minute or so would be an effective disincentive to cell phone use.

Possibly an early test flight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45487887)

I was on an American Airlines flight from Rochester to Chicago back in 2005 where they let people use their phones on board. I only remember it because it was so out of the ordinary but people went ahead and pulled out their phones and were talking like it was nothing. I pretty much hated it because there was some lady right behind me that was on the phone literally the entire flight from the time they announced it was okay to when she had to stand up to get her luggage to leave the plane. Towards the end she was just giving an up to the minute update of what the plane was doing, as if she couldn't hang up the phone.

Apologies to George Carlin... (4, Insightful)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | about 8 months ago | (#45487941)

Them: "Mind if I yak on my cellphone in this enclosed space?"
You: "Mind if I fart?"

legality doesn't make it reality (2)

gaiageek (1070870) | about 8 months ago | (#45487987)

The FCC making it legal is one thing. Airlines allowing it is another. Given the overwhelmingly negative response I've seen on this so far today, I think it's pretty safe to say that any airline that decided to allow passengers to make calls on their phones would risk losing business -- especially the business of frequent flyers. People who fly a lot tend to be quite familiar with the annoyances of flying, so why would they want to fly an airline that potentially adds another?

What I haven't seen mentioned is whether you'd have to pay a premium for such calls. Assuming you have to pay cruise ship rates (over $2 a minute), that would definitely discourage people from making long chit-chat phone calls to pass the time of their flight. Likewise, I'm sure a time limit on calls could be easily implemented. With such conditions in place, I'd probably be ok with it, and I'd certainly appreciate it if I was ever in a situation where I really needed to make a phone call en route to my destination.

Ambient chatter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45488303)

I look forward to hearing one end of dozens of silly conversations.
"No, I love you more than you do me."
"Yes, I'm on a plane."
"Goo goo gaa gaa."
"No, my wife can't date while I'm away."

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