U.S. Government Could Ban In-Flight Cellphone Calls

Aug 06, 2014 04:54 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering signing off on new rules that would restrict cellphone use on planes.

Carriers don't necessary agree that the U.S. Department of Transportation should be allowed to make that kind of decision however, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The report cites a speech given by DOT general counsel Kathryn Thomson at the International Aviation Club in Washington last week. Thompson said that the agency is taking the steps needed toward banning phone calls made during U.S. flights.

The DOT is supposedly preparing a "notice of proposed rulemaking" that would apply to in-flight calls, according to two spokespeople.

The contents of the regulations have not been decided on yet. The report does mention that the agency has been looking to end potentially disruptive calls under consumer protection laws that require airlines to provide "safe and adequate" service, according to two spokespeople.

A few airlines have already placed their own restrictions on in-flight cellphone calls, but others that want to use the feature as a way to stand out from competitors feel the Department isn't being fair.

Using personal electronic devices has been a topic for debate since Apple helped usher in the rise of smartphone devices back in 2007.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a rule modification which allows passengers to use PED's gate-to-gate, overturning a restriction that prohibited use below an altitude of 10,000 feet, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cellular calling was not a part of the rule change however, meaning smartphones still have to be in Airplane Mode during all phases of flight.

A report was released back in November of last year that the Federal Communications Commission was considering a change to current-inflight calling restrictions. The FCC proposed a measure officially after a meeting in December, but a formal rule has not been issued yet.

The DOT will publish the proposed rulemaking document sometime this December.

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