US could nix plans to permit in-flight cell phone calls

As airlines mull over the possibility of in-flight cell phone calls, it appears the US government also wants to weigh in on the matter. Word has it that the US Department of Transportation may be looking to create rules that would enforce a ban on in-flight cell phone calls.
The FCC has banned in-flight calls for technical reasons. But new technology has made that ban obsolete, the commission says, and there’s no reason to continue it.
In October, the FAA said it would allow passengers to use electronic devices such as e-books and tablets below 10,000 feet as long as their wireless signals were disabled. The agency stressed that cellphones had to remain in airplane mode—with cellular transmissions shut off.
The DOT, which includes the Federal Aviation Administration, is entrusted with safe air travel, but also with protecting the rights of air travelers.
It would be up to the airlines themselves whether to allow them. Airlines have said they would approach the matter cautiously because of strong objections from their customers. Even a majority of tech-reliant younger respondents, ages 18 to 29, are against using phones on planes — 52% opposed to 39% in favor. Crying babies and snoozing adults cause enough commotion on flights, and cell phone calls will only make matters worse.
Experience overseas indicates that the average call is one and a half to two minutes in length. Why haven’t some folks’ worst thoughts about cell use in the cabin come true? The most obvious reason is the cost. According to overseas providers, the cost for using the service is between three and four U.S. dollars per minute, so phone calls tend to be highly directed and specific – not the languid chit-chat many people fear.
The FCC proposal is scheduled to be discussed at the commission’s December meeting. The proposal will be sent out as what is known as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, in which the agency will invite comments on the idea before making a final decision. The entire process could take months.
sources: The Wall Street Journal, CNN, US News, c/net

briservUS could nix plans to permit in-flight cell phone calls