Despite recent talk about the future of cell phones on planes, the FCC has decided to keep a rule in place that requires cell phones to be turned off during airline flights. According to the AP, the reasoning behind the decision was technical.
"These days it's impossible to get on a bus without at least one person hollering into their cellphone, invading the private space of everyone around them," one member of the public wrote in an e-mail to the FCC. "That's bad enough when one can get off in 10 minutes. To have to suffer through HOURS of such torture, with nowhere to go and miserably cramped conditions — someone is going to explode."
Unlike the Federal Aviation Administration, which bans the use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices for fear they will interfere with navigational and communications systems, the FCC's concern is interference with other cellphone signals on the ground.
In January, the New York Times reported that Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, installed satellite-based technology that allows voice calls and text messaging on one of its Boeing 777’s late last year and expects to begin offering the service to passengers on an international route. Emirates said calls will work at altitudes above 9,800 feet to avoid potential interference with land systems. The downside is users will reportedly be billed at $3 to $3.50 a minute for outbound and inbound calls.