US regulators ban mobile phone use aboard passenger planes

Striking a blow for cell phone haters everywhere, a US government agency said it will keep a rule in place that requires the divisive devices to be turned off during airline flights, according to an Associated Press report.

The Associated Press report said the reasoning behind the decision was technical.

But the avalanche of comments the Federal Communications Commission has logged from airline travelers have been nothing short of visceral, the report added.

The agency has been considering lifting its ban on cell phone usage on airplanes since 2004.

Unlike the Federal Aviation Administration, which bans the use of mobile phones and other portable electronic devices for fear they will interfere with navigational and communications systems, the FCC's concern is interference with other cell phone signals on the ground, the report said.

Airphones installed in cabins use a special FCC frequency that operates outside the range of regular cellular phones, the report said.

In an order, the agency noted that 'insufficient technical information' was available on whether airborne cell phone calls would jam networks below, the report said.

The phones have been snapped shut for now, at least as far as the FCC is concerned. But the issue may come up again.

The agency said it may 'reconsider this issue in the future if appropriate technical data is available for our review,' the report further said.

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