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FCC Vote Could Allow Cell Phone Use During Commercial Flights

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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The FCC on Thursday voted narrowly to go ahead with a plan that could allow cell phone calls on airplanes. But don’t break out the earplugs just yet. There are several moves afoot to block the lifting of the ban.

“I’m the last person in the world who wants to listen to someone talking to me while I’m flying across the country.”

But FCC boss Tom Wheeler says his agency is not the Federal ‘Courtesy’ Commission; its role is to examine innovations, like those which have killed concerns of cell phone interference in midair.

“And new technology removes the technical justification of this rule.”

Still, you won’t be able to do such yapping in the cabin tomorrow. The commission’s vote only opens the matter for public comment. And even if approved, Wheeler says airlines could keep the ban on voice calls in place, while allowing for mobile networks to be used for texting and web browsing.

Bills introduced in the House and Senate would prohibit calls in flight. And the Department of Transportation is considering its own interdiction.

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