FCC chairman plans to scrap allowing passenger mobile calls on planes

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai says he wants to end an “ill-conceived” plan by the previous administration to lift a ban on passengers making mobile phone calls on planes. Pai said he felt that moving forward with the plan, which was introduced by his predecessor Tom Wheeler, is not in the public’s best interest.

“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 phone calls on planes,” he said. Removing the plan “off the table will be a victory for Americans across the country, who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet,” Pai added.

Pai released a statement about his wish to terminate the proceeding which was issued by the FCC in 2013 to relax the rules against mobile communications on planes. Wheeler was chairman at the time of the proposal, and sought to relax the rules put in place in the 1990s banning the use of voice calls on planes, suggesting the rules weren’t technologically necessary. Wheeler proposed introducing equipment on planes to allow for in-flight calls.

Interestingly, a report by USA Today noted that when the issue was opened up to the public for comment, majority of people dismissed the need for allowing phone calls on planes, with many expressing how they enjoy a quiet flight. Pai will reportedly need the backing of two other commissioners to terminate the proposal.