FCC: Airlines Will Be the Ones Deciding Whether to Allow In-Flight Calls

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 23 2013 1:28 PM

FCC: Airlines Will Be the Ones Deciding Whether to Allow In-Flight Calls

80833611
Hillary Clinton talks on her cell phone as she takes her seat to fly to Indianapolis, Indiana during the 2008 Democratic primaries

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Seems the backlash was too much. Shortly after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said that it was time to review “our outdated and restrictive rules” on the use of mobile phones on airplanes, the outrage was immediate. Just three weeks into his job, Wheeler seems to have underestimated just how much of a nerve the move was going to strike with the public, not to mention all the media attention it would generate, notes the Associated Press. Wheeler later took a step back, saying in a statement that he doesn’t like the idea one bit, but it would be up to the airlines to make the decision.

"We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that way myself," Wheeler said in a statement. He emphasized though that there is “no technical reason” to prevent mobile phone use in planes, and the FCC’s only role is to advise airlines on whether there is a safety issue involved. "Ultimately, if the FCC adopts the proposal in the coming months, it will be airlines' decisions, in consultation with their customers, as to whether to permit voice calls while in flight," Wheeler said, according to Reuters. He added that the FCC would in no way “impose any requirement that arilines should provide voice connectivity.”

Advertisement

The FCC is scheduled to vote on the issue at its December 12 meeting. So far, most of the airlines have said they will study the issue once the FCC issues a ruling. The one exception has been Delta that outright rejected the idea of in-flight voice calls.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.