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Congress Hangs Up In-Flight Cellphone Talk

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-07-18

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The House Aviation Subcommittee does not hold the same enthusiasm about in-flight cell talk as the wireless companies do.

Ever since it was announced that the FCC might relax its long-time ban on in-flight cellphone usage, there have been opinions offered from both sides. Some passengers want to at least have the option to make or take a call from the air.

Others would prefer the friendly skies to remain cellphone-free. That side of public opinion includes normal people who don't want to be stuck next to someone who talks for five hours non-stop on a flight to the coast.

Cingular came out against the idea in June, in a letter to the FCC citing its customers' concerns. The airline industry has long cited electronic interference as the reason for banning cellphone usage, but that position dates back to a time when handsets were substantially larger than they are today.

Now, the House Aviation Subcommittee has weighed in with its opinion. Members of the subcommittee showed little enthusiasm last week when the matter came up for discussion, according to USA Today.

The subcommittee noted the annoyance factor of being an unwilling third-party to half of a phone conversation. "The last thing most air passengers want is to be forced to listen to their neighbor chat on their cell phone about their ailments, dating problems, the latest reality TV show or up-to-the minute, estimated time of arrivals for the duration of the flight," said chairman John Mica (R-Fl).

Any new service would be satellite-based, and Boeing's Connexion unit has been anticipating a 2006 introduction of its service offering. Connexion president Laurette Koellner has said she thinks "regulatory issues and the social issues" will be ironed out by then.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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