The Associated Press is reporting that US lawmakers are considering whether or not to allow cellular telephones onboard commercial airline jets.
A subcommittee of congress debated the issue in July, but many members of the panel quietly voiced their disapproval of the measure.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it will continue its ban on cell phones in planes even if the Federal Communications Commission lifts it. The FCC ban went into effect into 1991, after the agency feared ground users may face interference from cell phones in the air.
With the approval of cell phones on planes, the possibilities for communication are endless. In addition to regular voice calls, laptop users may be able to connect to the internet via standard modems, and use devices like BlackBerrys to communicate with others on the ground, or even on other planes.
I’m not too thrilled about this. The notion that I potentially will be sitting on a commercial airline jet listening to hundreds of people talking on their cell phones, and hearing obnoxious phone rings every few minutes, really turns me off to aviation travel.
The technology also doesn’t seem to add up. Airplane noise can out-shadow even personal conversations – and sometimes can prevent me from listening to CD players on standard headphones. So how are people supposed to hear cell phones?
Unless special airplane cell phones (or attachments) are created, and there is a way to prevent people from being forced to yell into their phones, I don’t see this idea ever getting off the ground.
Cell phones also are a source of fear. In 2004, terrorist who attacked train lines in Madrid are believed to have used cell phones to remotely detonate the blasts. And after the July 2005 London bombings, it was initially thought that blasts in the London Underground were triggered by cell phones.
My hope? I see the future filled with wireless broadband connectivity for computer users on jets. And I’m not alone.
Boeing recently announced it is working on new planes with wireless networking technology built in – allowing for roving hot spots in the sky. Today, Intel jumped into the limelight by signing an agreement to certify Boeing’s technology as part of the “Intel Wireless Verification Program.