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The FCC can't protect you from screaming babies, but maybe it can save you from an in-flight conference call.

April 10, 2017

While rules on smart phone usage during flights have eased during the past few years, passengers shouldn't expect to chat to their friends or colleagues during a long flight any time soon.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to block a 2013 proposal that would have slackened the rules around making voice calls during flights. Chairman Ajit Pai called the proposal not “in the public interest,” in a statement shared Monday.

“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cell phone calls on planes. I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. 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," said Pai in a statement.

When the FCC sought public comment on the issue in 2013, they received nearly 1,500 comments overwhelmingly opposing the measure, USA Today reported. 

The FCC initially put the ban in place in 1991 over concerns that cell phone use could block the ground-based relay system. The commission would still need to vote in order to permanently keep the ban in place.

The Department of Transportation said in December that the FCC might not have jurisdiction over in-flight calls if they are made via Wi-Fi, however, Fortune reported.

Regardless of the federal rulings, some airlines expressed concerns that allowing phone calls in-flight would prove unpopular with passengers and are unlikely to allow it it. Delta and JetBlue have made statements pledging to continue to ban voice calls on their flights, according to the same Fortune report.

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