The proposal would lift the FCC’s 1991 ban on in-flight calls and data usage after a plane reaches 10,000 feet.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement:
Today, we circulated a proposal to expand consumer access and choice for in-flight mobile broadband. Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.
The ban was originally introduced to avoid interference to wireless networks on the ground. The commission first considered lifting the ban in 2004, but killed the proposal three years later due to public opposition and insufficient research.
Tom Wheeler became the FCC chairman less a month ago making this one of his very first motions. The topic is slated be discussed at the FCC’s December 12th meeting. Ultimately, it would be up to airlines whether or not to allow in-flight voice calls.
The FCC has not yet responded to Skift’s inquires for further details.
The news comes less than a month after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would allow flyers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing. All devices must be kept on “plane mode” throughout the flight.
Photo credit: Flyers currently make calls on private jets. Sam Churchill / Flickr