NPR : News

Filed Under:

FCC Chief Says He's Personally Opposed To In-Flight Phone Calls

Just a day after his agency said it was reviewing "outdated and restrictive rules" banning the use of cellphones during flights, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is tempering his statement.

"We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes," Tom Wheeler, who was confirmed for the job in late October, said in a statement on Friday. "I feel that way myself."

As we reported, the ink on Wheeler's original statement had barely dried, when the Association of Flight Attendants issued its own statement voicing opposition on behalf of itself and passengers.

"Any situation that is loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe," the organization said. "Many polls and surveys conducted over the years find that a vast majority of the traveling public wants to keep the ban on voice calls in the aircraft cabin."

After public opposition mounted, Wheeler issued another statement toning down his first, short statement. Wheeler said that before any rule on phone use is lifted, there will be a period of public comment. Also, even if it is lifted — the FCC, he added makes determinations based on technical reasons — it would be up to the airlines to decide whether in-flight phone use is a good idea.

"We believe that airlines are best positioned to make such decisions. For this reason, our proposal does not impose any requirement that airlines should provide voice connectivity," Wheeler said. "We encourage airlines, pilots, flight attendants, and the public to engage in our upcoming rulemaking process."

As Bill noted in our previous report on the subject, the same kind of proposal was made by the FCC back in 2004. It was ultimately dropped because of oppositions from groups worried about the distraction it would cause on a plane.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Comic-Con Fans Continue The Epic Battle Between Science And Fiction

Fans of science fiction have long wrestled with the question of just how much science should be in their fiction. Advocates of different approaches met at San Diego's Comic-Con.
NPR

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.
NPR

Leaked Democratic Party Emails Show Members Tried To Undercut Sanders

Just days before the Democratic National Committee convention gets underway, WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 emails among DNC staff, revealing discussions of topics from Bernie Sanders to the media.
NPR

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.