Cell phones during flight--no thanks

Summary:Ben Charny has an FAQ on the building consensus by the FCC with a push from cell phone operators to allow cell phone usage, perhaps by December 2006, during transit on U.S.

airbus.jpg
Ben Charny has an FAQ on the building consensus by the FCC with a push from cell phone operators to allow cell phone usage, perhaps by December 2006, during transit on U.S. commercial flights if the Federal Aviation Administration approves. Technical issues about interference with pilot to ground conversations and airplane radio communications are not yet fully resolved, but don't appear to be insurmountable.

My hope is that cell phones remain banned during flight unless a "whisper" law is enacted, which doesn't seem feasible, given the definition of a whisper depends on the listener. Perhaps cell phone users in flight should be required to wear microphones that amplify their voices, requiring only a hushed whisper to communicate. Maybe there is a way to shut cell phones off automatically if the speaker's voice reaches a specific decibel level. In any case, the thought of 300 people (or even 2, especially if they are sitting next to me) talking on their cell phones (at weekend rates) constantly at the typical loud voice levels, even while eating, for 5 hours and 50 minutes traveling from New York to San Francisco is horrifying.  For many of us who travel frequently by air, the plane is a kind of sanctuary, providing a few hours of reading, watching, sleeping and computing time, free of people talking on their phones about whatever as if they were in a restaurant shouting over the music and the conversations of other diners.

Law enforcement agencies have different reasons for opposing cell phone usage during flight. They worry about terrorists remotely coordinating with people on the ground and detonating explosives. Some flight attendants are concerned that cell phone usage could result in more air rage among passengers.  I would agree--the incidence of air rage would skyrocket if passengers were forced to listen to hundreds of simultaneous cell phone conversations at 30,000 feet, with no way to escape except wearing expensive helicopter pilot headphones...

Topics: Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.