In-flight phone calls likely won't happen with proposed new U.S. rules

The United States Department of Transportation is getting closer to establishing formal rules on whether or not to allow in-flight communications, including receiving and placing phone calls while on a plane. Likely, according to reports, that decision would be no, meaning that passengers would continue to be barred from placing or receiving phone calls while they are in transit.

"The Department of Transportation plans to pursue the next step in what could lead to a formal ban on in-flight calls, the agency's general counsel Kathryn Thomson said in a speech last week," the Journal reported.

The DoT is developing a notice of proposed rulemaking and would open the issue up for further comments until February before a final ruling is made.

Late last year, the FCC, another government agency, was considering reversing rules that would bar in-flight phone use. The FCC views that the several decade-long ban on in-flight cell phone use established to prevent interference with radio equipment is now no longer relevant. Despite the softening approach by the FCC, those rules if ever approved, would fall behind the DoT's regulations as the DoT rules would take precedent.

The controversial DoT move is being opposed by the airline and wireless industry with airlines wanting to make the decision themselves and the Telecommunications Industry Association saying that the DoT doesn't need to interfere.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Chuong H Nguyen