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FCC chairman is fighting to allow cell phone calls on planes

FCC Chairman Wheeler In Flight Phone Calls

When the Federal Aviation Administration this year announced plans to lift restrictions on the in-flight use of personal electronics, many people cheered. But when word got out that the FAA and the Federal Communications Commission were also considering allowing cell phone calls during flights, many of those cheers turned to loud boos. The Washington Post reports that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is insisting that the plan to ease restrictions on in-flight calls is a good idea even as he acknowledges its potential shortcomings.

“I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else,” Wheeler said. “But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission… Technology has produced a new network reality recognized by governments and airlines around the world. Our responsibility is to recognize that new reality’s impact on our old rules.”

It should be noted, of course, that Wheeler is a former lobbyist for wireless carriers.

Although Wheeler remains steadfast in his support of allowing calls on flights, the Post says that he might not have enough votes to get the measure passed because the commission’s two Republicans and one of its Democrats are all reluctant to support the proposal.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.