FCC weighing allowing cellphone calls on flights

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are "outdated," and it's time to change them.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the commission will consider a proposal to allow greater in-flight access to mobile broadband at a commission meeting next month.

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.

The proposal to ease cellphone restrictions is being greeted enthusiastically by the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Consumer Electronics Association. But it's drawing protests from flight attendants, airline officials and others. The Association of Flight Attendants says passenger phone calls could go from "a mere nuisance" to a safety and security risk.


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