We all have endured the annoying request to turn off our cell phones while chatting, texting or voice calling someone. How on Earth could the feeble signals of a phone affect a thousand-ton plane while still on the ground? Many people have predicted that post 9/11, this procedure has been implemented to instill a sense of calm in the passengers throughout the United States. Well, this might be true to some extent, it is still not the sole reason this restriction is implemented on a plane.
Now that most of the planes come with onboard Wi-Fi, there is really no need to turn your phones on as you can message through Whatsapp and call through Skype if needed. But, still the curiosity remains to ascertain the exact reason this ban is implemented strictly on all international and national airlines.
The truth is that there are two Federal organizations that have jurisdiction over the use of cell phone while traveling through the air. One is the Federal Communications Commission and the other is the Federal Aviation Administration. Both of them have their own independent rules to regulate the cell phone usage on airplanes, and they hardly cross each other paths. Let’s take a look at what each of them has to say about it:
The Federal Communication Commission’s job is to keep national communications as streamlined as possible. While in the air, the cell phones start receiving signals from multiple towers and confusing them in the process thus limiting their capabilities. This can affect the data flow throughout the country, and the FCC regulates phone usage because of that.
The Federal Aviation Administration, on the other hand, bans cell phone usage shortly before wheels rolling because there is a minute threat of electronic interference with the plane’s own communications systems. This connection is crucial since instructions are being relayed from the control tower to theoperating crew every second and sudden loss in communication means that serious consequences could happen. Despite the chances are low, air travel is no joke. Therefore, you are required to turn off the networks on your phones.
Surprisingly, FAA has no rule banning usage on altitudes since radio networks are necessary only while approaching the runway. That ban’s credit goes to FCC because of the overlapping of different cell phone towers. New technology is always arriving on the horizon as there have been talks of adding picocells that can route calls to the towers using satellite connections. This means that the customer may be able to use their phones to the price of international calling rates. Who would want that? Why not make a Skype call on credit instead?
Despite the use of Wi-Fi in planes, the ban continues to face strong resistance from various groups. AirCell spokesperson said that there was no risk of interference rather, the ban was implemented because people talked loudly and annoyed fellow passengers in the cabin. But, both the agencies claim that they might prohibit the use of VOIP calls as well since they also break their protocols. So, let’s hope they don’t cut us off completely while in air with only fellow inmates, sorry passengers to talk to!