More on cell phones in airplanes

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So far, the FCC has received over 7000 comments on whether to allow cell phone usage in aircraft. I haven't paged through all 7000 of them, of course, but I just looked at the most recently filed 10. They break down like this:
  • 1 in favor without rationale.
  • 1 against without rationale.
  • 2 against because it will cause "air rage"
  • 7 against because they don't want to have to listen to other people.
  • 1 against because people won't be able to hear announcements.
Does not add up to 10 because some people cited more than one reason

I totally understand that people talking on cell phones is annoying. Guess what, lots of things in life are annoying. Heck, lots of things on planes are annoying, including seatmates who want to talk to you, having to sit next to fat people, and crying babies, but we don't ask the FCC to ban them. Just because cellphones happen to be a piece of communications equipment doesn't mean that the fact that they're annoying is a good reason for the FCC to ban them (though it's potentially a good reason for the FAA to do so).

Also, check out the FBI comments. Quite the laundry list of requirements. More later.

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3 Comments

The comments from the FBI reflect a half-assed understanding of how a pico-cell would function on an aircraft. The proposals to date have had at most a single pico cell per technology
(CDMA/GSM or CDMA2000/UMTS). This would be owned
by and operated by a wireless carrier (or two wireless carriers
in the dual technology scenario). The responsible wireless
carrier can implement CALEA on the first terrestrial hop in their network
exactly as they would now. As an added bonus, the FBI gets
a single "throat to choke" along with what is probably an existing, well-established relationship.


If you are dealing with data traffic carrying encrypted flows
(which might be voice), they are in the same boat as they are on the ground. Pen register easy; content hard.


I continue to believe that the best use of the technology is
data-only, since that helps keep the sheep, er, customers
flying quiet and satisfied. Voice won't do that, since the customers will be pissing each other off at great rates
both because half the microphones are so poor shouting
is the only effective mechanism for communication and
because the rest of the conversations are: banal, inappropriate
for all audiences, or irritating to the convictions of the observers.


Nanny state, save us! Please.

Yeah, most of those comments are great reasons why _airlines_ should ban cell phone use on planes. (Or segregate users into cell- and non-cell- sections).

Airlines really hate having to take any responsibility for telling their customers no. They're much happier with "that mean old FAA is making us do this." After all, any airline that liked could have implemented the ID requirement anytime they liked, long before they got the FAA to make them do it in response to what turned out to be an accident.

--John

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