FCC chairman moves to block phone calls on airplanes

FCC chairman moves to block phone calls on airplanes
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The Federal Communications Commission on Monday moved to end its push to allow people to use cellphones on flights.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for killing an abandoned 2013 proposal to relax the agency’s rules about the use of cellphones on flights.

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“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” Pai, a Republican, said in a statement.

“I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”

The proposal was first circulated in 2013 by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, who stepped down in January. It would have relaxed the agency’s rules on using certain frequencies on aircraft, allowing airlines to choose whether to enable mobile calls.

The move was abandoned after it generated an uproar from people concerned about the prospect of hearing annoying phone calls on planes.

Wheeler defended himself by arguing that the move was not about allowing people to talk on planes but by revising outdated technical regulations.

"I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else," Wheeler said at a 2013 agency hearing. "But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission."