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Thought of in-flight mobile calls fills you with dread? Never fear, US Dept of Transport is here

FCC doesn't have final say on in-air cell chat, sniffs secretary

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The US Department of Transportation is considering banning people from making mid-flight cellphone calls – all while the US Federal Communications Commission mulls approving in-flight mobile jabbering.

"Over the past few weeks, we have heard of concerns raised by airlines, travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight – and I am concerned about this possibility as well," Dept of Transport (DoT) secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement to The Reg today.

That comes after the comms watchdog FCC said it will consider allowing airlines to install equipment that'll let passengers make calls during flights.

According to the Dept of Transport, however, the FCC does not have final say in the matter, and it will be making its own decision on whether to clear passengers for mobile calls during their flight.

"As the FCC has said before, their sole role on this issue is to examine the technical feasibility of the use of mobile devices in flight," said Foxx.

"We believe DoT’s role, as part of our Aviation Consumer Protection Authority, is to determine if allowing these calls is fair to consumers."

Meanwhile, authorities in Europe have considered similar measures to ease restrictions. ®

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