Congress will HANGUP on In-Flight Cell Calls

WME has discovered through the WWW that the HTIC of the USHR approved the HANGUP Act this past Thursday. If you can decipher all of that, then you too could be a U.S. Congressman.

Seriously though, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved the "Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act. Dont bother with the calendar, its not April 1st. Thats really the name of the proposed law.

According to IT the HANGUP Act would make permanent the long standing ban on such calls by the FAA (thats the Federal Aviation Administration) and FCC (the Federal Communications Commission). Flight Crews and USAM (United States Air Marshals) would be exempt from the ban. Indeed, the House of Representatives' Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved the act already.

While the alphabet soup seems to be over abundance in this story, the bill would stop in-flight cellular calls despite developing technology that would make such calls possible. Cellular calls while in-flight have been a illegal for some time due to concerns about interference the signals may have with on-board navigational and communications equipment. While other countries are moving forward to such services, Congress appears to be shutting the door on it.

Technology asides, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon and co-sponsor of the bill) states that there is another concern about in-flight calls. In a statement released by DeFazio, he states that, Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesnt want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly over-packed airplanes.

Opponents of the HANGUP Act agree that in-flight calls can be impolite but feel that you cant legislate courtesy.

The bill wouldnt ban internet access, email or text messaging in-flight. American Airlines recently launched wi-fi service in-flight and Virgin America plans to offer the same service by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if you can use your wi-fi enabled cell phone to access this service or if you will have to pay a fee to use one of the airlines devices.

There is a ray of "hope" for would-be chatterers, though: DeFazio also added in his released statement that, With Internet access just around the corner on U.S. flights, it wont be long before the ban on voice communications on in-flight planes is lifted. Unfortunately he added, Cash strapped airlines could end up charging some passengers to use their cell phones while charging others to sit in a phone free section of the plane.

WC Staff