The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened period of public comment on allowing passengers to use mobile phones on planes. This is an important issue because
- Mobile phones provide consumers convenience and connectivity.
- A reversal of the current ban on mobile communications would promote competition between inflight service providers.
- It allows airlines and their customers to decide what is the proper role of mobile communications, not the government.
- It has the symbolic significance of removing out of date regulation, something that all citizens should support.
Some are concerned about inflight mobile communications, however it’s important to note that
- Plane to ground mobile communication is safe.
- People overwhelmingly text rather than make calls.
- In flight mobile has been available on planes around the world for more than 5 years without problem.
A Federal Aviation Administration study of the issue in other countries found no documented occurrences of mobile phones affecting flight safety, nor negative comments about in-flight mobile service, nor incidents of “air rage”, nor flight attendant interference. If anything, complaints were about a mobile phone not working or a call being interrupted in flight. The 11-country survey, including Brazil, UK, Australia and France, found that fewer than 2% of customers used voice services in flight, phone calls were less than two minutes long, and texting exceeded voice by a factor of 10. The fact that in-flight roaming technology is expensive curbs the frequency and duration of passenger phone calls.
As an American who lives abroad, it is strange to enter U.S. airspace to find these services outlawed, whereas I can enjoy them in other countries. Americans are using these services now, but only outside the U.S. It’s time to bring the U.S. up to the global standard. Here are some of the articles I have written about this issue.