Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Wireless Networking Technology Hardware

FCC to Allow Wireless Access on Planes 336

isd_glory writes "The FCC has unanimously voted to allow wireless internet connections on airplanes. If everything goes according to plans, airplanes might be offering passengers internet service by as soon as 2006. Furthermore, the FCC is also soliciting comments about the possibility of lifting the in-flight ban on cellphone use. While this could be new profit source for the cash-strapped airlines, it might also be a new way to annoy your neighbor sitting next to you."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC to Allow Wireless Access on Planes

Comments Filter:
  • Oh no.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:44PM (#11099892) Homepage Journal
    it might also be a new way to annoy your nighbor sitting next to you.

    This is exactly where it is going to go. This is going to be horrible having to listen to calls like this: "Dude, dude, dude......guess where I am? Hehehe, dude, I am in a plane he he whoooooaaaa dude" your breaking up there.....CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??? HOW ABOUT NOW????!!!?. Yeah thats exactly what I want. If the airlines want to make people even more crazy in the air they will subject us to stuff like that. Now, if they are smart, they will create cell phone free zones so that everybody does not have to be subjected to the mindless banter that people inflict on others around them.

    It might even be a more horrible experience than I had on a flight from Sydney to Australia a couple of months ago with a couple of ecstasy addled passengers in front of me who were mixing alcohol with their e's as well. Those guys would not shut up. Cell phones have the same effect on some folks. They appear to be oblivious to anybody else around them and start the most inane loud conversations obligatorily involving anybody within earshot. All I have to say is that a good investment in Bose [] noise canceling headsets have been one of the best investments ever and appear to possibly become a necessity when flying.

    • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:47PM (#11099929) Homepage Journal
      ...Sydney to Australia? Are you circling around the airport and landing again? ;)
    • by Liselle ( 684663 ) <<slashdot> <at> <>> on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:51PM (#11099973) Journal
      There are several technical reasons why cellphones are banned, don't forget. Interference with the instruments in the plane is one thing. The fact that cellphones thousands of feet in the air can "see" a whole bunch of cellphone towers at once poses a problem, too. To solve the problem, they'd probably have to have some sort of localized setup on the plane itself, which requires cooperation from the carriers (they are already arguing about how many carriers should be allowed to compete), which means cellphones on planes might happen when I'm too old to fly anyway. :D
      • by Niltsiar ( 471 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:02PM (#11100067)
        Actually, what you're saying isn't quite true. Most cell phone towers are actually pointing their antennas downwards, which is why many cell phone providers wont guarantee service to people living in apartments or working offices above the tenth floor, unless the building his its own cell node.

        The other thing is, and this may just be the conspiracy theorist in me coming out, cell phones cause minimum interference to instruments on planes, the main reason they don't want you using your cell phone, particularly while taxi-ing and such, when your cell phone will definitely be working and have a signal, is because they want you to use their (very expensive) air phones.

        Of course, with roaming in the US being so unbelievably crap compared to other places in the world (mainly Europe, although here in Australia, the cell phone coverage is generally excellent too), as well as having many different competing standards, I'll agree with you on one thing, I don't see them installing cell phone nodes in planes anytime soon.
      • by mrm677 ( 456727 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:14PM (#11100167)
        Yes, a mini base station would be required on the plane for cellphones to work. This would then be patched into the rest of the system via satellite.

        Even if you are flying at 1000 feet and your signal wasn't distorted by the aluminum shell, handoffs woudln't work flying that fast. There is a small window of opportunity for cell-to-cell handoffs. It differs between CDMA, AMPS, GSM, and etc. This is also the reason the old Japanese PDC system wouldn't work in cars. Handoffs were too slow to work beyond 20 mph or so.
        • Incorrect. (Score:4, Informative)

          by i41Overlord ( 829913 ) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @12:58AM (#11100831)
          I see this myth repeated often. People say that cell phones don't work in airplanes for all kinds of technical reasons.

          But if you remember on 9/11, there were a whole bunch of cell phone calls that got through just fine. You don't hear of cell phone calls working on airplanes that often because as current law has it, they aren't allowed. But when people broke the rules in an emergency, they worked just fine.
        • "CDMA"

          CDMA can hand-off extremely quickly because, in a CDMA system, handoffs are "soft" - more than one tower is handling the call at the same time. There isn't a fixed point when the phone switches from one tower to the next like there is with GSM.
      • by ecklesweb ( 713901 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:17PM (#11100185)
        The argument that cell phones interfere with instruments seems to be overblown. From a article:
        Engineers at NASA noted at least three years ago that cell phones were being built so well that they emitted remarkably fewer interference-causing spurious radio signals. A NASA engineer said in a 2000 interview that the airplane cell phone ban would be lifted once earlier generations of cell phones wore down and were tossed out or recycled.

        Of course, that being said, I'd sure like some solid data. Apparently the FAA has commissioned an indepenedent agency to study the effects of cell phones on instrumentation. Results aren't due until 2006.

        Anyone heard any further details about the "independent study"?
      • Cell phones have the same effect on some folks. They appear to be oblivious to anybody else around them and start the most inane loud conversations obligatorily involving anybody within earshot.

      Some people seem to take pleasure in talking to someone on the phone around complete strangers. They blather on, and sometimes if you stare at them they'll give you a little look that says, "Yeah, I'm so cool - you are helpless but to listen to me! Aren't I fascinating?"

      Once I was in a bus from San Francisco

    • There are already payphones built into plane seats. Why should cellphones be worse?
      • Re:Oh no.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
        Presumably because if one could use your own cell phone, you have built within it in many cases, IM ability, video capability, email, address books etc... and it will likely be cheaper than using the phones built into the seats. Have you ever pulled one of the airphones out of the seats and actually used it? Hideously expensive.

    • by jsgates ( 232994 )
      Headphones? I was just going for a quick elbow to the chest and a roll of ductape.
    • Wouldn't be surprised if they added some noise barriers between cabins, and charged people more to sit in the cellphone cabin, or worse....charge people more to NOT be in the cellphone cabin.....*shudders*.

    • Re:Oh no.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jetson ( 176002 ) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @03:46AM (#11101747) Homepage
      "Dude, dude, dude......guess where I am? Hehehe, dude, I am in a plane he he whoooooaaaa dude"

      One of my air traffic controller co-workers told me a story about when the in-seat phones first appeared in coach. He and one of his buddies were on the way back from vacation and had enjoyed the in-flight refreshments a bit too much. On a whim he picked up the phone and called work. The conversation went something like:
      "Hey dude! I'm on XXX123 inbound, and I think we're about 120 miles out, right?"
      "Ok then, I was close. Can you do me a favour and give us a turn about 30 degrees to the right?"
      "Cool! How about one to the left?"
      "Excellent! Do you wanna do 360s for a while?"

      At that point the passenger sitting in the row behind tapped him on the shoulder and said "I don't know who you are, but you're scaring the heck out of my wife. Can we go home now?"

  • Annoying (Score:2, Funny)

    by AyeFly ( 242460 )
    ...another way to annoy the person next to you...
    Jeez, the perfect thing for those long flights comes along, and its every geeks dream, and you are stupid enough to complain about having wireless internet on a plane??? Get a life, even if we nerds don't.
  • Why not put a fucking cat5 jack in the back of every seat?

    Utterly dumb shit.
    • Why not put a fucking cat5 jack in the back of every seat?

      'Cause an airplane can't well have a T1 backbone to the ground, now can it? Might as well have it ALL be wireless, eh?

    • That's what I was thinking. Surely there are airlines that offer this already. Satellite internet to plane, LAN to your seat.
    • by Drishmung ( 458368 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:53PM (#11099992)
      Because the cable trailing along behind the plane is unsightly and tends to exceed the 100m limit quite rapidly.
    • Because it's more expensive to maintain a whole bunch of wires and networking gear that will never be fully utilized than to throw up an access point or two. Think about it for a second before posting a too-cool response.
      • Do your ass cheeks move when you talk, or is that an optical illusion?

        You can't go get the $30 Dlinks on sale at walmart. You'll want a commercial-grade router, Cisco Aironets or similar. So, That puts you in the several thousand dollars range. Not to mention that you're still talking major installation for the wiring to the uplink antennas, they put those in the wings, right?

        Not to mention, that the seats are generally designed for wiring of some sort in mind... the headphones, or lights, whatever. The c
    • Why bother, most if not all new laptops have WiFi. Are you going to lug your desktop PC onto a plane now?
    • 'Cause retrofitting miles of wire into a certified and certificated aircraft is a total PITA. You can't just string from wire from seat to seat and call it done. Any major design change has to be designed, documented, prototyped, and tested to death by the FAA. Is the CAT5 too close to some other important wire and causing cross talk? Is it interfering with the hydraulics and causing undo wear over time, etc..., ad infintum. And even if/when the new design gets certifed and the carriers can make the changes
      • That almost sounds intelligent. Except for the glaring omission that is this: It still means putting lots of wire out to the uplink antenna. 200 passengers will require what, 6-8 strategically placed APs, if not more? You'll need wire for those too, and back to a central switch router, that finally goes out to the wing antennas (or where ever the damn things are).

        They're already putting wire all over the place. Why not put a little bit more, and eliminate one more bottleneck?
    • Next time you fly on Song, look around seat-level under the arm rests. They've got what look like RJ-45 and USB jacks to every seat. I even plugged my laptop into the RJ-45 jack for the heck of it once, and actually got a link! So I take it, they've put in the wiring, and installed the switches, but havn't done anything else yet.

      (FYI, the embedded passenger entertainment screens on the Song jets run Linux as well... I've flown on those planes enough to have seem them reboot.)
    • Why not put a fucking cat5 jack in the back of every seat?

      I wouldn't call this flamebait. I can see how someone would at least consider cat5 and an rj-45 connector on every seat. However I remember reviewing the Scotch Guard (tm) website some years back and in their faq they spoke of its use on aircraft and how they were asked to offer the weight of their product if applied to all the seats in a given aircraft. If they are concerned about the use of Scotch Guard on an aircraft then they would be likel
  • SWEET! (Score:5, Funny)

    by StevenHenderson ( 806391 ) <stevehenderson@g ... com minus distro> on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:47PM (#11099931)
    Now the fat guy sitting next to me will not only be sweating and overflowing into my seat, but he might just be jerking off via his wonderful wireless connection now too. Wonderful.

  • What about...? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by comwiz56 ( 447651 )
    Hmmm... but how much will it cost? If talking on a phone is close to to $687/minute, what is internet access going to be? If its cheaper, how long till they realise that people are just going to bypass with VoIP. Or will they be smart and run their own VoIP service and give the handsets an overhaul.
    • Connexion by Boeing [] is already in service (some JAL, ANA and Lufthansa flights).

      Pricing is actually pretty reasonable:

      • $14.95 for service on short-haul flights under 3 hours
      • $19.95 for service on medium-haul flights between 3 to 6 hours
      • $29.95 for service on long-haul flights over 6 hours

  • by reynolds_john ( 242657 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:47PM (#11099937)
    WTF changed!? (other than the fat contracts I'm sure the carriers have been working out)

    I mean, the flight attendants lose all sense of reality if you're caught using a cell phone. I've been on a couple of flights where the flight attendant took the passenger's cell phone after seeing them take a call.

    So... what's changed to make it "safe" all of a sudden?
    • It's the same as in hospitals (in Ontario, Canada at least). It was determined that cell phones *might* interfere with important equipment. Failure of important equipment in hospitals and airplanes can lead to bad things, and were thus banned altogether.

      In fact, cellphones generate VERY little interference for hospital equipment. I've read that they're used all the time in some Asian hospitals by patients, doctors and everybody in between.

      This is a classic example of the fire alarm principle: alarms a
    • So... what's changed to make it "safe" all of a sudden?

      There are only three possibilities: One, since cell phones were invented and popularized, and it was realized that people would want to use them on planes, planes have been upgraded and/or redesigned so it is safe. As this is ferociously expensive and planes will last 30 years sometimes, I doubt this.

      Two, the planes will be so upgraded and redesigned before deployment of the necessary support technology. Same objection.

      Three, it was never unsafe and
    • nothing, 3 commercial airline pilots talked two adn several instructors, not a single one has said they have problems using their own phones while in flight(I'm assuming for the commercial pilots they are referring to when they take a smaller plane up, but who knows). At least as my own experience goes it never does anything. Its more like they have never tested what happens when 200 phones suddenly go active and the possibility of all that interference building up and messing up electronics in a plane.
    • So... what's changed to make it "safe" all of a sudden?

      If they still make you turn everything off on take off and landing, nothing at all has changed. People with wifi built into their notbooks have been beaming signals around airplanes without even knowing they have the devices. So goes the world of the clueless.

  • The first court case about the guy sitting next to you who started browsing pr0n about an hour into the flight.
  • How about No Cell Phone sections on flights?
    • I don't know how often all the people bitching about the possiblity of someone next to them actually fly.

      In case you were unaware, hurtling through they sky in an aluminum tube with big honking jet engines within 100 feet of you is pretty frickin loud already. If someone is truly being inconsiderate with their phone use inform your flight attendant. They will quickly clamp down on the annoying practices of the few for the sanity of the many.

      If you're on a plane you've already consented to being crammed to
  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:49PM (#11099955) Homepage Journal
    I think I know the perfect things the airlines could offer. LAN parties. You just bring a laptop (or they could loan you one on selected flights) and you play with the people on the plane with you. I can imagine such a thing taking off, actually. Or they could just offer Internet. *shrug*
    • I wonder if there's any general custom for people on the same LAN to find a common server. That is, could somebody start up a multiplayer Quake (or whatever), and everybody else finds it on the LAN without needing to coordinate IPs?

      I guess I'm describing Rendezvous, but that's pretty narrowly-implemented right now, and doesn't have much gaming support AFAIK.

    • I think it would be fun to be able to listen to everyone's else's music for the whole flight. The in-flight music blows, and it's nice to have something new to hear.

      iChat Rendezvous is then an option too. I've been on a few flights over the last few years when I wasn't sitting next to colleages and it would have been nice to 'talk'. SubEthaEdit becomes even more useful as well... hrmmm...
    • I think you already can! Song has ethernet to every seat on their planes, and I think I even got a link when I tried "for the heck of it". Of course switch doesn't hook up to anything yet, but I suppose you could build a laptop-to-laptop ad-hoc LAN out of it.
  • by nacturation ( 646836 ) <nacturation @ g m> on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:52PM (#11099988) Journal
    Just play counter-strike on the airplane in mid-flight. Crank up the volume, have the guns blaring away, then you hear "Hostage down! Hostage down!" I'm sure it will be appreciated.
  • This would most likely have no benefit to international flights that fly over a long stretch of ocean. I remember a while ago that you could use the the special phone in flight which could read credit cards but the rate was around $15 per minute!! I don't know if all trans-atlantic flights take a very similar route and if would ever be profitable for a cell phone provider to provide signal over that route......
  • by sugarboy ( 125106 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:58PM (#11100028)
    "I got a network! Shit, out of range. I got a network! Shit, out of range. I got a network! Shit, out of range. Bugger."
  • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:01PM (#11100050)
    Singapore Airlines for one...there are others.

    I'm sure internet will be limited, at least initially, to first and business class. It might actually make it worth upgrading, especially on an international flight, so you could get some work done and collaborate in real time.

    This could be good news for me in particular since I generally approve the structual engineering for mods like this for a living. Yes, I'm from the FAA and I'm here to help you ;) (well, a civilian representative of the FAA anyways).

    As for cellphones, ....I'll just say I'm looking forward to reading the public comments on that one.

  • You know.. I'm not exactly a small dude, but I'm not fucking huge either...

    And I've found using my 12" iBook to be almost all but impossible in the standard "coach" compartments of most aircraft, with my screen at an angle that is almost unreadable.. And forget about trying to type comfortably. Then, if the asshole in front of me jacks the seat completely back, I might as well pull out a book. If Apple made something along the lines of the Fujitsu P2000 series, or the Sony TRV series, it might be doable
    • I've used my 17" widescreen Sager laptop in coach before, and for writing code no less. The space was a little tight, but it was still perfectly usable. Either you're larger than you let on, or you're flying on the wrong airline.
  • Save Me, FAA! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:01PM (#11100055) Homepage
    I head a piece on NPR about this today. I have two thoughts.

    First, I like the WiFi, that would be great. The only thing that worries me is that people will start using it for VOIP to get around any anti-cellphone regulations.

    Second, the FAA has its own ban on cell phones in airplanes. So even if the FCC says it's OK (which, from a technological/interference point of view it is), the FAA can still keep it banned (like smoking is banned, for example) keeping us all sane in the air.

    If the FAA doesn't save us, I suspect that portable cell-phone jammers will become VERY popular among frequent travelers. And how dangerous do you think THOSE unregulated things will be for pilots?

  • How is talking on a phone any more or less annoying than talking to a person sitting next to you?
    • Obviously with phones you're only hearing half the conversation - unless of course you're using an annoying Nextel model.
    • How is talking on a phone any more or less annoying than talking to a person sitting next to you?

      There's a paper called "Why Mobile Phones are Annoying," published in Behaviour and Information Technology, that discusses that very topic.

      One finding was that it's apprently easier to tune out the continuous drone of a complete conversation than it is to ignore a single person alternating between speaking and siting silent.

      I don't think the paper is online, but Jakob Nielson [] has a good summary [].

  • by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:05PM (#11100084) Homepage Journal
    Have a look at this Quantas Record Profit []

    Then they have the nerve to add a levy because fuel prices are high.
    How to make it big: Pass ALL* expenses to consumers, keep profits to yourself. * If you do not have enough expenses, make some up.

    • Very true - Qantas (which is the correct spelling - it is an acronym) added a 'fuel surcharge' to all tickets when oil hit $50 a barrel.

      Chances are that Qantas has never paid $50 for a barrel of oil, their bottom line is protected from oil price fluctuations due to future price contracts ('futures'). I believe that they lock in pricing for their fuel supply for up to 3 years in advanced.

      They need to do this for two reasons, so that they are able to forecast future expenditure and as I mentioned to protect
  • That seat next to the crying baby is looking better and better already

    Teenagers with cell phones suck.
  • what??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Whatanut ( 203397 )
    How exactly would this be annoying? We're talkin' about wireless internet. What exactly is annoying about this and what exactly do you have to complain about? The mention of "possible cell phone access in the future" comment was purely to rile people up. Come on. This is a good thing. Deal with it!
  • Profit??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cytoman ( 792326 )
    While this could be new profit source for the cash-strapped airlines

    How could this be a new profit source? By "this", do you mean the internet connections (I can see how this could get them some profit), or do you mean allowing cell phone calls (which, frankly, I can't figure out how it would be)?

  • by Pierre ( 6251 )
    Run out and buy stock in those noise cancelling headphones. I know that I'll be picking some up.
  • There are TWO bans on using cellphones on an airplane. The FCC ban was instituted to prevent interference with ground users caused by being almost equidistant to several cells at once. The FAA ban was instituted to prevent interference with aircraft systems. The FAA is looking into it, right now no one has scientifically established said interference.

    So don't hold your breath. When/if it does happen, you won't be using the cell phone you own now anyway.
  • been there done that (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anubis333 ( 103791 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:14PM (#11100169) Homepage
    Lufthansa has about 80 planes with wifi already [], they fly to destinations in the US and Germany..
  • by Odin's Raven ( 145278 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:14PM (#11100170)
    Furthermore, the FCC is also soliciting comments about the possibility of lifting the in-flight ban on cellphone use.

    In an effort to save /. a little disk space, could we all agree that Monday's discussion [] has already flogged the "in-flight cellphone" horse to death? Yadda yadda "annoying yammering twits", yadda yadda "but I could call my spouse", yadda yadda "all just a conspiracy by the phone company"... Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

    So let's concentrate on important things, like making WAGs about how much the wi-fi service will cost. And how there'll be annoying twits hogging the bandwidth downloading pr0n at 30K feet, and how useful it'll be to email your spouse to let him/her know the plane is crashing, yadda yadda yadda...

    Oh, and most important - we'll need at least one thread about how this will be used by terrorists to coordinate their attacks by IM-ing each other. (No flight article is complete without a terrorist thread.) And another thread about how all the money needed to implement this would be better spent feeding starving squirrels in Bulgaria. Think about the squirrels!

    (And yes, it has been a long day... :-)

  • Shortly after taking off from Chesterfield-Spirit of Saint Louis Airport, in fog and light snow,
    Flight 187 collided head on with the tower leaving 7 dead and 30 injured.
    Forensic investigation has revealed that the pilot of the plane had just received an important phone call from his mother-in-law prior to the accident.
  • I do not want to be on a plane in solid IFR with a mobile phone that is on. Thats just too damn scary. I don't like the idea of being in a plane where the pilots can't see out the window and the only thing keeping it from flying into the rocks is few radio signals and a few small gyroscopes.
    • just wondering if you have ever tried to use your cell phone and see if it effects any of your IFR instruments. I've tried this a few times(in VFR conditions) and I haven't seen any changes. But of course, I only have me and a few other people to go on.

      Since your against it, I was wondering if you might have had an experience or if your just taking the safe route until actual research is done.
      • There is lots of redundancy built into the recievers but all they are doing is comparing the phases of two different signals and moving a needle that shows you how far off course you are. A GPS phone can make that needle jump sometimes but its rare and if the phone can get enough energy into one of the correct spots in the reciever, it can cause offset errors. On the ground before take off, you check that both VORs read within 2 degrees of each other. It turns out that if you miscalibrate both VORs at th
  • by Anonymous Coward
    one person could pay, and provide nat to the rest of the passengers/or coworkers on a flight, for free.. just use a different wifi channel!
  • by Moskie ( 620227 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:44PM (#11100373)
    Everyone keeps freaking out about how annoying this can make plane rides. I don't see this being a problem, really... all this means is that airlines can regulate themselves when it comes to using cell phones on a plane. Maybe airlines will offer cell free flights, or provide "quiet sections" of the cabin where talking on your phone isn't allowed.

    Really, if enough people hate being around people on their phones, the airlines themselves will (well, should) provide options for those people to have a more pleasant flight.
  • by jlseagull ( 106472 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:45PM (#11100388) Homepage
    When I was working at (insert name of huge network equipment company) on their WiFi, we worked on phased-array SDMA, that stands for space division multiple access. The idea was that you could have a system with lots of nodes moving past a central point, at which was a 2D square conformal array of patch antennas. By varying the phase and amplitude of the signals to each patch antenna element, you could accurately track up to floor((2ln(n))? targets with acceptable crosstalk, where n is the number of patches on a side. This would work awesomely with a plane flying over a bunch of omnidirectional access points with a ventral mounted conformal antenna.
  • I got onboard OK. Are the others ready?
  • by ( 562495 ) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @11:59PM (#11100474) Homepage
    Even though FCC has unanimously voted for cell phone usage on planes, it doesn't mean FAA will will approve it too. It might take years before FAA approves it.
    Plus Verizon AirFone has a monopoly and good relations with FAA. What makes you think Verizon would let you do that? They don't want to lose their steady income. There is very small spectrum available for a re-transmitter on a plane. What makes you think Verizon is willing to give that up? You can't have Verizon's Airphone and cell phone working at the sametime, due to spectrum limitation.
    Before you get too excited, there will be serious roaming charges even if FAA approves the cell phones. This is again due to the limited spectrum, and one large company monopolizing it.
  • by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @12:13AM (#11100563)
    that someone's cell phone or WiFi card could bring it down?

    i know i wouldn't.

    the signal strength of the cell phones is far far less than the signal strength of the cell towers outside the airplane. It doesn't matter which direction the RF is travelling, you know.

    If Cell phone frequencies caused problems, we'd see the problem when airports put in a ton more towers to handle the traffic.... and we didn't.

    the whole concept of banning cell phones was a Nanny State Program trying to make the uneducated and stupid feel better, and to give the Mrs. Kravits/HOA-types the ability to be pissy at you on the airplane if you leave your cell phone on.

    there's no technical reason to prevent users from using cell phones... if the towers can make the connection, then they can. If they can't, they can't.

    i bet, more than anything else, that it won't matter a ton because most of the time, people won't be able to make calls at altitude.
  • When I used to have Nextel, whenver I'd get near a GFCI outlet (those ones with test/reset buttons), it would trip. You could also hear your phone communicate before it rang on any speaker within a 10 feet radius, or see CRT monitors flicker. I hope they study this very carefully, but even with the safety concerns, I don't want to deal with cell phone users in flight.

  • The description of the FCC decision in the lead-in to this topic is incorrect.

    The FCC voted to auction off 4 MHz of spectrum for ground-to-air commercial communications including voice, data, and Internet access.

    It's already legal to use Wi-Fi on a plane. Connexion by Boeing just yesterday dramatically expanded its satellite-to-plane service that uses Wi-Fi for distributing it on board. It's now available on some SAS flights, on Lufthansa, and a few other airlines with a number more coming online next yea
  • Pack cellphone jammer in carryon bag next time I fly...

    I expect to see the schematics on /. by next week. Move it geeks, go go go !!!!!!!!!
  • by Kanasta ( 70274 )
    Is it dangerous or not? I thought there was interference problems. What's the ban for then?
  • by telemonster ( 605238 ) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:19AM (#11101339) Homepage
    I bet they try to charge $3.99 per minute to use the WiFi. Advantages are:

    #1, if some business class guy can get his company/the gov't to pay $3.99 a minute, you can just launch an attack, route his traffic thru you and have fun. I would call it skyjacking his connection but that might be a bad term.

    #2, if cell phones are allowed and you have a GSM carrier that does data, and you can maintain a connection (since the phone is going to be hopping cells pretty rapidly).... you could undercut Verizon on the plane and offer 25 cent per minute wireless by bridging people to the intarweb via your cell phone.

    #3, I'd imagine they will use a web page to allow people to pay. This can't be secure as some dork back near the crapper spoofs the login page. There was a slick hack at defcon where every image became Goatse (probably via Squid proxy). This could be hilarious in-flight.

    #4, Plane-sniffing -- 8' dish in your back yard tracking those planes flying overhead on a clear day -- grabbing data from plane passengers? Think it would work?

    Has anyone left their cell phone on during flight, and left the phone in diag mode where it shows the current sector antenna / cell site? How often did it change? Nokia and other phones are capable of this.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM