No Worries About Cell Phones on a Plane... FCC Terminates Proceeding

Travelers now have a respite from cell phones on aircraft. The FCC terminated the proceeding in an order released Tuesday.
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When the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December 2004 examining its rule prohibiting the use of cell phones on airplanes, many were concerned that their plane flight might be disrupted by passengers sitting around them talking on their cell phones.

While existing FAA rules restrict use of cell phones and other devices that transmit signals on commercial aircraft, the FCC was also concerned about the interference cell phones would cause to cell phone base stations on the ground. Cellular phone systems, as the name implies, depend on being able to reuse the same frequency in areas just outside the range of a terrestrial base station. Unless the cell phone carrier's software turned it off, a cell phone on a plane could potentially jam base stations over a wide area. One suggested solution to this problem would be a "pico cell" on the plane, which would operate at low power and set the cell phones to their minimum power levels.

Travelers now have a respite from cell phones on aircraft. The FCC terminated the proceeding in an order released Tuesday, saying, "The comments filed in this proceeding provide insufficient technical information that would allow the commission to assess whether the airborne use of cellular phones may occur without causing harmful interference to terrestrial networks."

The order also noted that airlines, manufacturers, and wireless providers are still researching the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices on planes.

Noting that seeking further comment at this time would not "provide us with the necessary technical information in the near term," the FCC concluded the proceeding. The commission said they may reconsider the issue in the future "if appropriate technical data is available for our review."