FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been very active on a wide variety of issues in the short time he’s been in the driver’s seat, and this week has proved to be no exception.
Pai on Monday unveiled an order meant to kill an FCC proceeding opened in 2013 that was aimed at relaxing rules around mobile communications on planes.
“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 cellphone calls on planes,” Pai said in a statement. “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.”
Introduced back in December 2013 under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, the proposed rules would have allowed airlines to choose whether to enable mobile communications on their aircraft through the installation of an Airborne Access System. Additionally, the rules would have replaced a “patchwork” of regulatory services to include a prohibition on the use of mobile services across all of the most heavily used mobile spectrum bands unless an Airborne Access System was installed.
“The Notice does not propose to mandate that airlines permit any new airborne mobile services. It does, however, provide a path for interested airlines to authorize increased consumer access to airborne mobile broadband services across licensed commercial mobile spectrum bands in a safe, non-interfering manner,” the text of the rules read.
The measure was supported at the time by Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who said it could promote competition for mobile broadband services in flight and give air travelers more options for data service across airlines. Pai and fellow Commissioner Michael O’Rielly opposed the measure from the start.
When opened for public comment, though, the proposal was widely panned across the 1,400 responses that poured into the FCC.
Pai’s termination of the proceeding must go up for a vote before the three-member panel of the FCC, which includes Clyburn and O’Rielly, before becoming final.
Filed Under: Industry regulations