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FCC, FAA Still Don't Want Cell Phones on Planes

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the probably-a-terrorist-plot dept.

Communications 300

mattnyc99 writes "Last month we learned that the UK has approved in-flight mobile, effective immediately. Popular Mechanics has a follow-up on why the phones-on-planes ban is here to stay in the United States. Statements from the FCC and FAA confirm that any chance to overturn it remains dead on arrival — even though new "pico-cell" networks cut down interference with phones on the ground. American Airlines is looking like it will have onboard Wi-Fi within the next couple months, just the same. PM does note, however, that if the European mobile rollout is a success, US carriers might just have to give into demand."

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300 comments

I don't want cell phones on planes. (5, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#23016450)

Imagine a two hour flight with everyone talking to their hands. Or the ones with blinking blue cockroaches in their ears talking to the seat in front of them. No thanks.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (4, Interesting)

bcat24 (914105) | about 6 years ago | (#23016544)

I couldn't agree more. Don't get me wrong, I love my cell phone as much as the next guy. It's just that there are some places where non-emergency phone calls are inappropriate. Plane flights are bad enough without people chatting on their cell for hours on end.

In-flight wifi, on the other hand, sounds far more promising. I can imagine it being used for some really awesome things, like movie rentals that work directly with your laptop.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016892)

Okay, but your personal preferences have nothing to do with the FAA or FCC.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | about 6 years ago | (#23017140)

Exactly. I generally dislike cells - I think they're obnoxious, but acknowledge that they're great in emergencies and useful for people who want/need to be plugged-in all the time. Personally I find use in restaurants, etc. is a nuisance to other patrons. But that should not influence federal regulations. If enough patrons want a phone-free airline, I'd like to believe that we'd have phone-free flights (unlikely, but not enough reason to legislate). The only issues that should be considered by the FAA/FCC are safety and interference.

I think that forcing private businesses to disallow smoking is BS too, but at least they were trying to justify it through employee health complaints. Several of these comments seem to condone federal legislation to ban an annoyance in the name of safety. Gross.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (4, Insightful)

Caligatio (1064234) | about 6 years ago | (#23016606)

Yea, this would drive me absolutely batty. Of course, if WiFi is OKed, that means that VoIP is possible.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 years ago | (#23016668)

too much lag for VOIP though. IM would be okay as all you would get is the occasional laugh and lots of keyboard clicking.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (2, Insightful)

dotfile (536191) | about 6 years ago | (#23016662)

Amen, brother. I won't fly without my cell, but for God's sake don't make all of us listen to every idiot on the plane yelling into their effing phone. It's noisy and uncomfortable enough as it is.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (3, Funny)

bluemetal (1269852) | about 6 years ago | (#23016756)

I agree. As if screaming babies weren't enough.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 6 years ago | (#23017018)

I think 0 of the last 6 flights i have taken recently have had screaming babies in sound range.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#23017088)

The babies don't bother me. The Adults tend to be 10 times worse. I used to fly a lot. I never had a terrible problem with babies. Yes sitting next to a 450 lbs woman that thought a beach umbrella was carry on luggage. A jerk that not only yelled at me for putting my bag in the over head because it might crush his cell phone. A bodybuilder that started to cry when we hit a little rough air.
The wost had to be the guy that yelled at the two nuns with orphans. They made a tiny bit of noise and this guy started yelling them to shut them up.
Just being in the same plane with that guy has got to be really bad karma.
Babies? Heck they are babies, they don't know any better. It is the adults that make the flights hell.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016886)

Is a bunch of people talking on phones any different than a bunch of people talking to each other? People talking = people talking. Or are you just regurgitating a lame argument you heard somewhere?

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (4, Insightful)

MoxFulder (159829) | about 6 years ago | (#23017032)

Is a bunch of people talking on phones any different than a bunch of people talking to each other?
Yes. People talking on cell phones seem to lack a basic situational awareness and volume control. I don't mind real-life conversations all around me, not at all. But people on cell phones always seem to talk too loud, say inappropriate things, and have no awareness of the real world around them. I know I'm guilty of it myself...

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (2, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | about 6 years ago | (#23017036)

I don't fly that often, but I've noticed that planes are rather quiet most of the time. When people talk to each other on planes they do so in a conversational tone, or lower.

When people talk on cellphones they are LOUDER for some reason. Most people like to yell at their phones.

Cellphones also encourage people to babble constantly like idiots, for some reason.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (2, Insightful)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 6 years ago | (#23017104)

Yes, for a few reasons:

1. It's well established that it is more difficult for people to tune out one-sided conversations.
2. People use louder voices when talking on their cellphones than when talk to someone next to them.
3. Talking on the cellphone brings the focus outside their current environment, making cell-phone users less considerate of those around them.
4. People traveling alone generally don't talk with other people on the flight since they don't know anyone. So more people are going to be talking.

About the only positive cellphones can bring to airplanes in terms of annoyance is that the single travelers who feel they must talk to the person sitting next to them will finally have someone else to talk to.

Exactly. (0, Redundant)

MoxFulder (159829) | about 6 years ago | (#23017008)

It's the elephant in the room in this whole debate...

WE'LL ALL GO BATSHIT CRAZY IF EVERYONE IS TALKING ON THEIR PHONES!!!

How annoying is it to have people talking on their phones everyone in the subway or on the street or in restaurants? At least, in those places, there's usually room to get away from them. Not so on planes.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (2, Insightful)

Xenious (24845) | about 6 years ago | (#23017056)

I don't want calls available, but SMS and 2.5 or 3G data connectivity sounds good to me. I guess wifi would work just the same.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 6 years ago | (#23017108)

Imagine a two hour flight with everyone talking to their hands. Or the ones with blinking blue cockroaches in their ears talking to the seat in front of them. No thanks.

For serious. I don't care what their excuse is, maintain the ban on cellphones! I've even pretended to agree with the technical reasons for the ban before when someone has asked me. "Oh, cell phones? Oh yeah, the FAA is right, they'll fuck a plane up. All those e-m wave frequencies can interfere with the avionics, and the tachyons generated will totally reverse the polarity of the flux capacitor."

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (1, Troll)

Azghoul (25786) | about 6 years ago | (#23017162)

So because you don't LIKE it, it should be ILLEGAL and punishable by a court of law?

Okay. Tell us some of the things you DO like so we can fuck with them.

Re:I don't want cell phones on planes. (1)

Sandbags (964742) | about 6 years ago | (#23017198)

I've got no problem sticking a pair of ear phones in, cutting on the noise canceling, and letting them all chat away at $0.50 a minute premium air time. All they're doing is improving the airport's profits, and as a result, some of that will lower my ticket cost in the future...

Free wi-fi on planes, that's what I'm waiting for. It might not be free for everyone, but with my bundled iPhone, home phone, and AT&T internet service plan, I don't pay for wi-fi at airports, starbucks, or any other AT&T hotspot... (and almost all of them are, including the big push for in-flight hot spots.

Also, if they let wi-fi happen, likely people will be using skype or cell phones with wi-fi talk capability... might as well charge them a premium rate to use a real cell phone.

Funny that. (4, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | about 6 years ago | (#23016454)

What a strange co-incidence, I don't want phones on a plane either. I don't want to hear 400 calls of "Hello, you never guess where I'm calling from."

Re:Funny that. (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#23016856)

"Hello, you never guess where I'm calling from."

"Can.. Can you hear me now? ... Can you hear me now?"

Re:Funny that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23017116)

You'll never guess where I'm posting this message from. Wait how'd you know I was in my basement?

First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016460)

Anonymous First Post?

Ill pass, thanks. (2, Insightful)

spotdog14 (877656) | about 6 years ago | (#23016474)

i cannot imagine how horrible a 3 hour delay on the aircraft will be then! wifi i can see, laptops, internet = good. Cellphones = bad. Unless of course we all get 1st class seats and our own little curtains.

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (5, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 6 years ago | (#23016514)

i cannot imagine how horrible a 3 hour delay on the aircraft will be then! wifi i can see, laptops, internet = good. Cellphones = bad.

And when I make VoIP calls using a microphone..?

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (4, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | about 6 years ago | (#23016584)

i cannot imagine how horrible a 3 hour delay on the aircraft will be then! wifi i can see, laptops, internet = good. Cellphones = bad.

And when I make VoIP calls using a microphone..?

You better hope I'm not sitting behind you when you try that. (Last time I checked, cluesticks weren't on the list of banned weapons. :D)

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#23016700)

My understanding is that airlines will be blocking VOIP [fiercevoip.com].

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#23016810)

From your link:

Much of the argument comes down to the potential annoyance of having a "Chatty Cathy" sitting next to you, talking away for the entire coast to coast trip. In that case they may also have to ban babies from traveling, not to mention those fliers who insist on playing their iPods at maximum volume, and of course all those end-of-season football team get aways.

That man is brilliant. Any chance we can get him appointed to the FAA?

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 6 years ago | (#23016950)

Hell, I'd rather have "Chatty Cathy" gabbing away to her sister in Peoria rather than trying to make conversation with me while I'm trying to spend some quality time with Soma and Professor Layton...

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 6 years ago | (#23016802)

And when I make VoIP calls using a microphone..?

You'll take a nap on the plane and wake up with a horse's head under your blanket.

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

cowscows (103644) | about 6 years ago | (#23016972)

Then a stewardess walks over and tells you to stop, just the same as if you opened up your laptop and started playing music out of its speakers. Even if the FAA said that it was ok, I'd hope that most of the airlines would have the good sense to not allow it on their flights. The technology that you use to make that call isn't really relevant.

Re:Ill pass, thanks. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#23016996)

The technology that you use to make that call isn't really relevant.

Then what, exactly, is relevant?

I thought the whole point of not allowing cell phones was that they cause interference. If wifi doesn't, and I can send VoIP over that wifi, how would that magically start causing interference?

I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plane (4, Interesting)

OYAHHH (322809) | about 6 years ago | (#23016490)

> US carriers might just have to give into demand

Well, as far as I'm concerned, they already have. I don't want some blabber-mouth next to me trying to yell over the jet's noise for a cross country trip.

Now, if they want to instigate a cell-phone free area at the front or rear of the plane like they used to do with smoking versus no-smoking sections then I say go-for-it...

Re:I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plan (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#23016534)

I spend almost 3 hours a day on commuter trains. My most hated phrase, ever, is "NO!! I HAVE PLENTY OF TIME!! I'M ON THE TRAIN!!"

Re:I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016644)

Followed closely in second by, "Oh god, I shouldn't have ate [or drank] that last night."

Talking of Non-Talking (2, Interesting)

DaveInAustin (549058) | about 6 years ago | (#23016646)

Unfortunately, it's probably only a matter of time. Since we don't have smoking sections anymore, how about a quiet section. Amtrak [amtrak.com] and the TGV have a quiet cars. Smoke travels almost as well as sound. And if noise really troubles you, pick up some noise-blocking headphones [etymotic.com] or just some earplugs [hearos.com]. Just don't wind up like this guy [nytimes.com]

Re:Talking of Non-Talking (1)

jdigriz (676802) | about 6 years ago | (#23016714)

I'd pay up to 50 bucks extra per ticket not to have to listen to the bores next to me jibber-jabbering. Noise-canceling headphones don't work that well versus irregular noise like human speech. Bring back the phone booth! Of course maybe it would work just as well if I offered the 25 dollars to my seat neighbors directly to stay off the phone.

Re:Talking of Non-Talking (1)

Skidge (316075) | about 6 years ago | (#23016732)

We used to have quiet cars on the commuter trains around here, but they discontinued them due to the increasing amount of people who were taking the trains. I guess they couldn't spare the space for the non-talkers with the ever-increasing number of talkers on the train. It was a sad day when that happened, and for a long time afterwards, there were nasty looks shot about the formerly-quiet cars as people blabbered into their cell phones.

NV headphones don't block conversations (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 years ago | (#23016898)

Those headphones only block constant background noise - which is the only noise which doesn't bother me!

Re:NV headphones don't block conversations (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | about 6 years ago | (#23017062)

He said noise blocking, not noise canceling. Think earplugs combined with headphones. Far superior to noise canceling phones, don't require any power whatsoever, and work fairly well versus speech (as well as any earplugs do, anyway).

Personally, I favour Shure, mainly because their soft plugs are better than virtually anything else on the market.

Re:Talking of Non-Talking (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 6 years ago | (#23017098)

I think that guy is my new hero.

Why the hell are people so frightened of silence?

Re:I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plan (4, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | about 6 years ago | (#23016748)

I know a number of people who ride the commuter trains, and more and more of them are starting to carry these handy little devices. [phonejammer.com] No, no one cares about how legal these are or are not. Turn them on just long enough for the offending phone to lose the call, and they are undetectable.

Re:I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plan (1)

Duradin (1261418) | about 6 years ago | (#23016636)

I'd rather have a screaming baby free area. Cell phone blather mouths are annoying but they barely register on the wailing infant scale of annoyance.

There is also a correlation between screaming babies and puking babies. I'd pay extra for a baby fluid (and solid) free flight.

Re:I don't want to listen to my neighbor on a plan (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | about 6 years ago | (#23016782)

Now, if they want to instigate a cell-phone free area at the front or rear of the plane like they used to do with smoking versus no-smoking sections then I say go-for-it...
This is actually in place in the trains in Denmark. The seats don't cost more, and everyone who sits there are all looking for peace and quiet, so it works quite well.

Mobile Phones (0, Troll)

sadgoblin (1269500) | about 6 years ago | (#23016504)

Aren't they fascinating? Can give you a brain tumor, can cause a plain to crash... I guess all those people that thought the atomic bomb will cause the death of all humanity were wrong.

The actual reason... (2, Insightful)

RJBeery (956252) | about 6 years ago | (#23016506)

It isn't cell tower overload - it's control over information. When there are problems with the plane that may be known by people on the ground the last thing they need is a bunch of cell phones ringing to cause absolute panic. Can you imagine being in the air on 9/11 and getting a phone call from your screaming family as they told you what was on the news?

Re:The actual reason... (2, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | about 6 years ago | (#23016570)

You mean getting told that the terrorist doesn't intend to hijack the plane and take it to Cuba, instead he means to fly it into a building and kill everyone on board? Ya, that's information I really don't want to know.

Re:The actual reason... (4, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 6 years ago | (#23016608)

Except for the fact that in the case of one plane, the one that went down in PA, some people on the plane were able to call out and notify authorities of their hijackings and provide some information as to the number of hijackers, weapons, etc. In the case of the hostesses, they used on board phones, not cell phones, but some passengers did call their family and/or authorities.

I realize you mean the other way, someone calling you, for why cell phones shouldn't be used on planes due to the panic issue, but I'm still against them being used. Not that I have any inclination to fly anytime soon but if I did, I get enough of someone else's yammering walking around stores. I don't need to be confined for a few hours with no way to get away from, "Yeah, I be tellin her dat she ain't gonna be good wif him. Uh huh."

Much simpler... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#23016682)

If cell phones are banned, they can still charge you a dollar a minute for the official in-flight phone service.

I really don't think there's any safety-related reason, even your "control of information" theory, especially if Oceana^WEurope is allowing them. Seriously, Britain seems almost more paranoid about terrorism than the US.

Re:The actual reason... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#23016758)

Sigh, yeah, jump to the wild ass conspiracy. well done~

Look, Cell phones can interfere with certain equipment. Having seen this happen in a test lab I consider the European airlines are being irresponsible.

No, it's not common, and no it's not every phone. In fact it's usually some run of a phone that wasn't manufactured to spec.

A single routers can be shielded, 100's of in use cell phones can not.

Re:The actual reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016876)

In that case you should be very afraid of flying due to the amount of cellphone signals that goes through aircrafts during takeoff and landings.

Re:The actual reason... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#23017016)

A single routers can be shielded, 100's of in use cell phones can not.

And 100's of in-use wifi cards can? It's not just the router that's generating a signal...

Re:The actual reason... (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 6 years ago | (#23017100)

Ya, we shield the router so no signals can get through to the sensitive equipment! Then we just run a cable to all laptops on board.

Re:The actual reason... (2, Insightful)

daveo0331 (469843) | about 6 years ago | (#23016902)

That's exactly what happened on flight 93, and those phone calls are a big part of the reason why that plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania instead of wherever the terrorists intended to crash it (speculation is they were heading for the US Capitol).

Re:The actual reason... (1)

fox_91 (1033914) | about 6 years ago | (#23017082)

Flight 93 crashed because the people on board, tried to retake the aircraft, causing the terrorists to crash the plane in the battle, not because someone made a phone call. At worst the phones cause instrumentation interference (The right models running at the right Mhz/Ghz) you can still fly a plane, just not properly navigate it.... Cell phones don't just cause the plane to fall from the sky.

Re:The actual reason... (1)

0123456789 (467085) | about 6 years ago | (#23017212)

I think that that is what the parent meant; due to the passengers being able to make those phone calls, they knew about the other hijackings and attempted to retake the aircraft, thus disrupting the terrorists' plan.

Because no one comes from UK to US (1)

techpawn (969834) | about 6 years ago | (#23016518)

The concept of it's okay to chat away on your phone in the UK on the plane but not in the US won't peeve ANY international travelers. Of course they will happily fly into the US where they have to turn off their phones and succumb to more invasive security then take their business to another country.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016538)

Who the hell wants cell phones on a plane anyways? It's a stupid, stupid idea! WiFi yes, cellular NO!

UMA WiFi phones or Skype anyone? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 years ago | (#23016566)

Does that mean that I can use a UMA phone (eg. T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home service) or Skype while in flight?

The problem with the UMA service is that there is no way to do a web-based sighnup from the phone. I did once experiment with trying to change the AC address of my PC to match my phone's MAC address, then sign up, but I was not successful. On reflection, I should probably have turned off my phone while the PC had the same MAC address.

The concern is.. (4, Interesting)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#23016586)

I can't remember who I remember hearing this from, but during some flight I recalled some flight personnel talking about it and the reason behind it being that not all cell phones are alike and not all plane equipment is alike. The testing needed to be completely sure that there wouldn't be any sort of interference would be horrendously laborious, not to mention that something new comes out just about every month. I can't vouch that this is absolutely true, but I do see where they are coming from.
Plus like one of the above posts said, I don't want Mr. "I'm an important asshat" blabbing on his bluetooth earpiece while I'm trying to sleep. People don't have common sense so let's just leave it at that.

Re:The concern is.. (1)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#23016726)

Also forgot about the varying frequencies and networks that cell phones use, CDMA, PCS, 2G, 3G...etc.

I hate loud stupid Cellphone users (3, Funny)

zymano (581466) | about 6 years ago | (#23016596)

These also show up at the library and bookstores.

STFU already.

Someone needs to tell off these annoying Aholes. Especially women who babble endlessly about stupid trifling crap.

I about blew my lid at the library once. There is a big sign that even says turn off your phones , guess what , they still IGNORE it.

And those stupid ringtones!!!

Start fining these assholes!

Re:I hate loud stupid Cellphone users (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#23016850)

Just ask them to leave the library.
However, in a book STORE you really ahve no business telling people who the can and can not talk to.
If they were talking to a friend next to them, would you tell them to leave?

well, sure, you would your a selfish jerk. Most people wouldn't.

And your complaining about ring tone, sweet. I hope someday the concerns that I have that anger me are as trivial as yours.

Re:I hate loud stupid Cellphone users (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#23017002)

And those stupid ringtones!!! Start fining these assholes!

I agree, it's about time the government does something about these people are obviously unable to decide what's a ringtone and what's a cheesy song you should only listen to when you're home alone and with headphones on.

I suggest a few categories in order to define fines. Category A would be stupid rap and pop songs, with a $10 fine, Category B would be really cheesy love songs and the likes, $25 fine, and Category C would be Crazy Frog, make it a 3-strike felony.

Anyone caught in 2008 with Crazy Frog as their cell phone ringtone deserves 25-to-life. Really.

I got the solution right here... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23017216)

If they start allowing cellphones on planes, then from now on every time I am scheduled to fly somewhere, I will ensure that I eat a couple of bean burritos before boarding the plane. If the person sitting next to me on the flight starts yapping on the phone and disturbing me, then I'll start farting at them.

Government Intervention (5, Insightful)

manekineko2 (1052430) | about 6 years ago | (#23016600)

It's funny how despite the fact that the crowd at Slashdot is generally overwhelmingly pro-tech, the average reader is also very hostile to the idea of in-flight calls based on past stories on this.

Moreover, it's funny how despite the fact that the crowd at Slashdot is generally overwhelmingly anti-government regulation, when it comes to things they want the government to regulate, like banning in-flight cellular phone use, they're generally more than happy to acquiesce.

Unless the cell phones present a safety concern, I don't see any reason whatsoever for the government to be involved in banning in-flight cell phone use. If the free market turns out to be interested in having quiet flights without cellular phone use, then I'm sure carriers will be more than happy to offer flights and/or cabins that ban cellular phone use. There are already laws that make not complying with flight attendants a crime. If the market turns out to be more interested in the convenience of using phones on planes, then who are you to be telling them through the use of legalized government force to prevent airlines from serving those markets?

Other than the interference with navigational controls and ground based towers, which are supposed to be eliminated with the pico-cells, and which we'll soon get to the bottom of with the UK legalizing, I haven't heard of a single legitimate reason to involve governmental intervention in this. The blurb about terrorism concerns and remote detonating bombs sounds like more pointless scare-mongering with no increase in security. The article itself admits that people are already surreptitiously using cellular phones.

It's nice that most Slashdoters don't want cell phones on planes, but it's downright screwed up to use governmental force to make everyone go along with it without a public purpose behind it.

Re:Government Intervention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016710)

Correct. If there are no safety issues involved, then the FCC and the FAA have no place in the discussions. It's the carriers plane, they should be able to do as they wish.

Re:Government Intervention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016804)

Because what's the point of cell phones on a plane? It's pointless and annoying for the other passengers.
They are also an added security risk.

Re:Government Intervention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23016816)

Let's see. We are talking about people being confined in an otherwise highly regulated environment. Preserving the peace is a function of government.

There is no reason that I should have to go to jail for ripping your arm off and shoving it down your throat because you can't shut your trap.

You should see what is happening these days on the Long Island Rail Road with inconsiderate morons these days.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | about 6 years ago | (#23016868)

You make an excellent point, but frankly, I'm just surprised that two massive government bureaucracies agree on something. By the way, my transmission lab professor once explained to me the intricacies of why cellphones aren't allowed on planes (incidentally, the very same reasons she did not allow cells into her lab, your phone rang in there, you were kicked out for the whole day!)-
1) It happens that most cells operate at 2.4 GHz, the same frequency as the GPS unit in the plane, and on the off chance that the two signals could interfere with each other during takeoff/landing the benefit does not outweigh the risk.
2)If you let them in, everyone is gonna be miserable listening to some prick blather on for half the day
3)You aren't supposed to go that fast while on a cell phone (this is just about on planes, not in transmission lab) - you switch towers too often, and it causes all sorts of shenanigans in the signals (this of course has been resolved by the brits by putting a PICO on the plane itself).

Re:Government Intervention (1)

Forbman (794277) | about 6 years ago | (#23017148)

Plus, a GSM pico cell on planes might work fine in the US also, but we also have CDMA carriers (SprintNexTel, Verizon). So...what then? Probably lucrative to US airlines to do "exclusive" deals with AT&T, most likely...

Re:Government Intervention (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | about 6 years ago | (#23017158)

It happens that most cells operate at 2.4 GHz, the same frequency as the GPS unit in the plane, and on the off chance that the two signals could interfere with each other during takeoff/landing the benefit does not outweigh the risk.

No, cellphones operate in the vicinity of 800-900 MHz and 1.8-2.0 GHz, depending on which country you are in and which service provider you are using. GPS operates in the vicinity of 1.2 and 1.5 GHz. There are also the aircraft navigation and communication bands in the vicinity of 120 and 240 MHz.

You are probably thinking of WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. that operate in the unlicensed ISM band near 2.4 GHz.

However, it's possible that a malfunctioning cellphone (or even one working as designed) can emit a harmonic that falls into the aircraft navigation or communication bands.

You aren't supposed to go that fast while on a cell phone (this is just about on planes, not in transmission lab) - you switch towers too often, and it causes all sorts of shenanigans in the signals (this of course has been resolved by the brits by putting a PICO on the plane itself).

The FCC's problem with cell phones at altitude in a plane is blanking out multiple cell stations/towers, even across different cell phone systems in adjacent areas. The systems are implemented to cope with people in tall buildings and on top of mountains, but don't necessarily anticipate the guy flying over at 35,000 feet.

Putting the pico-cell on the plane addresses both problems, because the cell phone knows to cut back to minimum transmit power. If you try to use one on a plane at altitude, it will likely transmit at full power in an attempt to contact a tower -- and is much more likely to cause interference with avionics and terrestrial cell systems.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#23016900)

The blurb about terrorism concerns and remote detonating bombs sounds like more pointless scare-mongering with no increase in security.
Well, it actually is possible to use a cellphone to remote detonate a bomb. Simply wire the 'ringer' speaker to the detonator (you may need a transformer to alter voltage and current characterists) call the phone from the ground and ... boom! In fact, terrorists have already been doing this [engadget.com] for quite sometime [officer.com].

Of course, you still have the problem of getting the explosive past the TSA and, additionally, since cell phones are already surreptitiously being used on planes anyway...the risk is probably not a lot different with and without legal cell phone use.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#23016942)

Actually, come to think of it, you WOULD NOT have to get the explosive past TSA. Since this is remote-detonated, simply sticking the bomb on the plane while it was in a repair hangar would be enough. Heck, the would-be terrorist could just get a job as an airplane mechanic or a parts delivery person or something.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#23016936)

I love how you lump us into one pool of the same mind~

"I haven't heard of a single legitimate reason to involve governmental intervention in this."
As someone who has tested phone that were pulled from plane when the nav system started getting quirky, I would say yes, it is a government issue.

When pico phone come out, is everyone going to immediately get one?

"The blurb about terrorism concerns and remote detonating bombs sounds like more pointless scare-mongering with no increase in security."
true.

"but it's downright screwed up to use governmental force to make everyone go along with it without a public purpose behind it."
true, but there is a public purpose behind it.

Just so you know, sometime some model aren't manufactured to spec, and those cause a problem.
When I was involved, Nokia had a 'bad' st of phones. They were notified, and fixed it with the manufacturer. That was a while ago, and they weren't the only one, just the ones I looked at.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 6 years ago | (#23017006)

I think the original reason for banning was being unsure whether it interfered with the operation of the plane. Sure, it PROBABLY won't, and on paper it shouldn't (just like needing to turn your cell phone off around explosive detonators), but no one was/is willing to take the chance until someone with authority could flat out say "It WON'T happen".
 
Now that we have finally gotten there, the majority still wants to keep the cell phone ban, but for more social reasons. They don't want to have to deal with jackasses all around them squawking like parrots, causing an already uncomfortable ride more uncomfortable. I honestly don't think anyone actually CARES who enforces it... just that it is enforced. So, sure, take it out of the FCC's/Uncle Sam's hands. I don't think anyone here would argue. They are just expressing, whoever's job it is to make this decision, be it the airline or whoever, WE STILL DON'T WANT CELL PHONES ON PLANES.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

indros13 (531405) | about 6 years ago | (#23017078)

An excellent point.

Perhaps a compromise is to have airlines give announcements like in movie theaters - "please turn off your cell phones for the enjoyment of the other passengers." Or as another post suggested, let airlines ban cellphones as policy.

After all, a 2005 survey found that 63% of Americans do NOT want cell phones use to be allowed on planes.

Then again, with that kind of majority, maybe we should just pass a law...

Re:Government Intervention (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | about 6 years ago | (#23017132)

Unless the cell phones present a safety concern, I don't see any reason whatsoever for the government to be involved in banning in-flight cell phone use.
After hearing the "brrr brrr br br br br" come from all sorts of speakers -- even with the phone several feet away -- I feel like just having the battery in a cell phone is unsafe. Plane or not.

Re:Government Intervention (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 years ago | (#23017136)

Gawd I hate Libertarians. If the last 7 years should have taught you anything, it's that government regulation is GOOD and blindly relying on profit motive to fix the ills of the world is BAD.

it's downright screwed up to use governmental force to make everyone go along with it without a public purpose behind it.

I think the posters have outlined enough of the public concerns.

"Give in to demand?" (1)

billlava (1270394) | about 6 years ago | (#23016680)

I don't think US airlines will ever have to give in to demand... What are their customers going to do? Go on a European airline for their flight from LA to Denver?

Re:"Give in to demand?" (1)

Skidge (316075) | about 6 years ago | (#23016842)

If demand is such that people will pay more for it, they'll definitely give in. The airlines aren't exactly loath to add extra charges if they can get away with it.

Technical difficulties (2, Funny)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | about 6 years ago | (#23016694)

Verizon has enough problems switching between towers without dropping calls while I'm moving in my car. On a plane? Shit...

Re:Technical difficulties (1)

techpawn (969834) | about 6 years ago | (#23016754)

On a plane? Shit...
Oh no! does anyone here speak Jive?!

Re:Technical difficulties (1)

torqer (538711) | about 6 years ago | (#23017142)

I duzn't wanna use mah' cell phone on some plane. What it is, Mama! ah' likes de boogie fum de co'po'ate leash.

Re:Technical difficulties (2, Informative)

torqer (538711) | about 6 years ago | (#23017118)

You wouldn't be switching between towers at all. I'm pretty sure the summary mentioned "pico cells" which are basically mini towers. They don't need to be nearly as strong as a real tower because the even the longest plane in the world is only 75 meters (Airbus 340-600).

Perhaps thinking of them as repeaters is more effective. All of the phones on the plane connect to that one tower (pico cell), and then sends all of the communications to the ground.

Cell phones seem mostly harmless (1)

jd (1658) | about 6 years ago | (#23016704)

Sure, you'll get a lot of irritating jabbering, but you get a lot of that anyway, and I can usually hear the sound from the headsets in the next two or three seats, so I'm used to being irritated. I'm rather more concerned with the fact that the FCC started asking about wiring and suddenly all the airlines are inspecting like mad. I'm also rather more concerned with the fact that I cannot get a reasonable quote on the radiation exposure to passengers on international flights. The difficulty in getting that number makes me think that for some long-haul flights, air crew and possibly passengers are exceeding safe limits. Air crew in particular, as they fly a lot. I'm also rather more concerned with "air rage", where passengers - usually drunk from the duty free - go berserk. With the increased restrictions on movement on aircraft, I imagine the death rate from deep vein thrombosis has also risen. There have also been reports in the press about passengers being able to gain access to aircraft control wiring in some cases. Aircraft systems operate on ARINC busses, which are just very expensive RS-232 links with a published protocol.

So, between mechanical issues, mental issues and medical issues, I just can't see how cell phones could add a whole lot of risk.

One good thing... (0)

s0litaire (1205168) | about 6 years ago | (#23016832)

Since everyone will have their mobile on during the flight. It's safe to assume that their will be a few with their Bluetooth on. Hm.... Sending random Bluetooth messages to others in the aircraft... could be fun ;) Unless it's the pilot who get's the "Look out! Plane!!" message and sticks the plain into a nose dive... :S But you could use it to chat up that cute blond 5 rows down.......

The Real Reason (2, Interesting)

amplt1337 (707922) | about 6 years ago | (#23016846)

But if we allow cell phones on domestic flights, who'd use the $5-a-minute credit-card-op plastic phone from the seat in front of you?

Re:The Real Reason (1)

Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) | about 6 years ago | (#23017092)

Who uses them in the first place?
I've been on several dozen flights--even flew first class a couple times--and I've never, ever seen anyone use the in-flight phone.

Lies (1, Troll)

mcelrath (8027) | about 6 years ago | (#23016866)

Mostly, I'm sick of being lied to in the "safety" spiel at the beginning of every flight. As TFA states, there is no corroborating evidence of interference with the plane's navigation systems. If there were, the FCC is not doing their job of certifying devices, and some heads need to roll over there.

I have no problem with turning them off, but stop telling us everything is for our "safety" and herding us like scared little sheep. People deserve to be treated intelligently, and with respect.

Noisey enough already (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 6 years ago | (#23016880)

Airplanes are already cramped enough, oxygen levels per person were reduced years ago and the the planes are just loud enough already. Can you imagine a Red Eye across country, you're expecting to sleep through it (go go time travel), only to not sleep because some chatter bug is to hyperactive and must call every freaking friend / family / relative / wrong number imaginable to chat?

I can hear that high pitch whiny "Oh my Gawd, guess what so-and-so did?" "Eeeewww, I know." Blah Blah Blah.

I can just here the corporate asshole laughing about stealing some account from his co-worker. Augh.

No Cell Phones on Planes. PLEASE.

Mythbusters episode covered this (5, Informative)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | about 6 years ago | (#23017004)

There was a Mythbusters episode (season 4 episode 6) where they got serious interference under test conditions with actual airplane instruments, but were unable to interfere with the instruments on an actual plane. They concluded that even though they couldn't create a hazardous situation, it would be an extremely bad idea to take the risk, since it is plausible and there's only one way to find out!

They also made a good point that air travel would be prohibitively expensive if insurance companies required airlines to verify that every component of every plane in their fleets were impervious to cel phone interference. That makes the $5 plane phone seem a lot less sinister.

What good is onboard Wi-Fi if... (2, Funny)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 6 years ago | (#23017052)

...you don't have any flights?

American Airlines is looking like it will have onboard Wi-Fi within the next couple months,
American Airlines is looking like it won't have any flights left, after canceling over 1000 flights this week so far.

Cellphones are just plain irritating (1)

LM741N (258038) | about 6 years ago | (#23017058)

And not because I can hear someone talking. Its the principle of it. I live near a beautiful huge park and within the last 5 years I've started seeing more and more people in the park constantly on their cell phones. I always thought the idea of going to the park was to get away from all of that. Airline travel is so miserable these days that I can't imagine adding one more inconvenience to it. Gee, can you use cell phones on cruse ships?

Demand?! Fah! (1)

Kelz (611260) | about 6 years ago | (#23017126)

>>"PM does note, however, that if the European mobile rollout is a success, US carriers might just have to give into demand."

Demand and US cell phones really doesn't compute, and I can't remember the last time that an airline or cell phone carrier gave in to "demand". Hell, 3g was just rolled out where I live, a major metropolitan area, and Europe is starting to roll 4g.
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