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Gov’t weighs permitting cellphone calls on planes

November 21, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this Oct. 31, 2013, file photo, a passenger checks her cell phone before a flight in Boston. Federal regulators said Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, that rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are “outdated,” and it’s time to change them. The Federal Aviation Administration recently lifted restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, but not cellphone calls, which fall under the FCC. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are “outdated,” and it’s time to change them, federal regulators said Thursday, drawing immediate howls of protest from flight attendants, airline officials and others.

Tom Wheeler, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement that the commission was proposing greater in-flight access to mobile broadband. The proposal will be considered at the commission’s Dec. 12 meeting.

“The time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” Wheeler said, adding that modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably.

The proposal would also allow passengers to use their smartphones to send email, text and download data. The proposal would apply to flights when they are over 10,000 feet in altitude, but not during takeoffs and landings.

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