clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

FCC chairman Ajit Pai moves to keep cellphone calls banned on flights

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
Chris Welch / The Verge

Taking a brief break from his controversial plans to roll back net neutrality rules, FCC chief Ajit Pai today announced a proposal that would keep cellphone calls banned from US flights.

In 2013, the FCC considered relaxing rules from the 1990s that banned voice calls from planes. In proposing the change, the FCC, led by Tom Wheeler, suggested that the ban was technologically unfounded, and in a 3–2 vote, the agency opened up the plan for public comment.

But as USA Today points out, the plan was met with a wave of scorn from travelers, who enjoyed the silence during flights. The Transportation Department received similarly acrimonious comments about the plan, and last year floated a proposal that would require airlines to tell consumers if, in the future, they could be “exposed” to voice calls. The plan has so far languished, and the new proposal will end it entirely.

The agency will vote on the new proposal, but Pai, as well as Republican commissioner Michael O’Rielly, voted against the 2013 proposal, making it likely the measure will succeed.

“I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest,” Pai said in a statement announcing the proposal. “Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”