The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put an end
to a proceeding over whether to relax rules that ban in-flight phone calls.
The proposal, put forward by former FCC chairman Tom
Wheeler, had been under review since 2013.
"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 cellphone calls on planes," current FCC chairman Ajit Pai
said about the decision in a prepared statement. "I do not believe that
moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the
table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like
me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet."
Airlines reacted coldly to the idea of allowing phone calls
when the FCC put out that proposal more than three years ago.
A separate Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal, put
forth in December, remains under consideration. The rule would require airline
and ticket agents (including travel agents) to inform passengers at the start
of the sales process if an airline allows in-flight phone calls.
It would exempt small ticket agents -- those with less than
$20.5 million in annual sales. The move is necessary, the DOT said, because
existing Federal Communications Commission rules, while banning phone calls on
certain frequencies, don't cover WiFi and some other frequencies on which calls
can now be made.