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Federal regulators weigh permitting cellphone calls by airline passengers during flights

Thursday - 11/21/2013, 10:18pm  ET

JESSE WASHINGTON
AP National Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are "outdated," and it's time to change them.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the commission will consider a proposal to allow greater in-flight access to mobile broadband at a commission meeting next month.

The proposal would also allow passengers to use their smartphones to send email, text and download data. The proposal would apply to flights when they are over 10,000 feet in altitude, but not during takeoffs and landings.

The proposal to ease cellphone restrictions is being greeted enthusiastically by the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Consumer Electronics Association. But it's drawing protests from flight attendants, airline officials and others. The Association of Flight Attendants says passenger phone calls could go from "a mere nuisance" to a safety and security risk.

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283-w-35-(Jackie Quinn, AP correspondent, with Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst, Hudson Crossing)--Federal regulators seem to agree with many travelers, and say next month, they will consider changing "outdated" rules that ban passengers from using cellphones on commercial flights. AP correspondent Jackie Quinn reports. (21 Nov 2013)

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286-c-25-(Scott Mayerowitz (MAY'-ur-wihtz), AP airlines writer)-"won't shut up"-AP airlines writer Scott Mayerowitz reports opposition is already being voiced against allowing passengers to make cellphone calls on commercial flights. (21 Nov 2013)

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284-c-14-(Scott Mayerowitz (MAY'-ur-wihtz), AP airlines writer)-"be a nightmare"-AP airlines writer Scott Mayerowitz reports airline passengers might not welcome the easing of cellphone restrictions on commercial flights. (21 Nov 2013)

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285-c-24-(Scott Mayerowitz (MAY'-ur-wihtz), AP airlines writer)-"not want this"-AP airlines writer Scott Mayerowitz reports it's unclear if the airlines will allow passengers to use cellphones while in the air even if the FCC gives its okay. (21 Nov 2013)

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APPHOTO WX105: FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2013, file photo, a passenger checks her cell phone before a flight in Boston. Federal regulators said Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, that rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are "outdated," and it's time to change them. The Federal Aviation Administration recently lifted restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, but not cellphone calls, which fall under the FCC. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) (31 Oct 2013)

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