Watchdog says no to mobile calls on aeroplanes

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ended a proceeding that would have allowed in-flight mobile calls on aeroplanes.

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ended a proceeding that would have allowed in-flight mobile calls on aeroplanes.

While European airlines gear up to offer in-flight mobile phone services by the end of the year, the FCC move puts paid to passengers making phone conversations on US aircraft. Public comments "provide insufficient technical information on whether the use of cellular phones onboard aircraft may cause harmful interference to terrestrial networks," the FCC said in an announcement.

After the FCC opened the inquiry in December 2004, the agency received thousands of comments from airline customers asking it not to approve mobile phone calls during flights. Many people said they did not want to be subjected to their neighbours' phone conversations. Some mobile phone carriers also expressed concern that in-flight conversations would interfere with their on-ground networks, and the idea received mixed reviews from airlines.

The FCC has left the possibility of in-flight phone calls open. Airlines, device manufacturers and wireless providers are still researching the use of phones and other electronic devices on flights, and the FCC found it would be "premature" to seek further comment at this point, the agency said.

The FCC could reconsider the issue later "if appropriate technical data is available". Even then, it will require a change in rules at the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Some airlines are experimenting with Wi-Fi service during flights. In November, AirCell announced it had received an FCC license to provide air-to-ground broadband service in aeroplanes.

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