Thursday, April 13, 2017

The FCC's (lack of) a new rule and government overreach

In the news today, the FCC chairman nixed plans to allow in-flight cell phone usage. That's not worth commenting on. But his reasoning is. He wrote:
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. 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.
Please note his rationale. This has nothing to do with airline safety. Nothing to do with overburdening the cell phone infrastructure. Not even to do with airlines keeping their monopoly on in-flight communication. It's because he doesn't want someone next to himself talking on the phone.

What a complete BS answer. I guess he's unaware that people have been yapping on (expensive) AirPhones for over a decade and that anybody today can have data access to the Internet if they want to pay the airline for on-board Wi-Fi. And I guess he's never sat next to a couple having a loud conversation or a crying baby. Or for that matter, the plane's own engines. There is no such thing as a "moment of quiet at 30,000 feet" and never has been.

But that's not even my point. My point is that this is none of the government's business. The FAA is responsible for making sure that our planes safely get where they're going. The FCC is responsible for making sure our communication system works properly. It is not the responsibility of either (nor anybody else) to decide whether or not someone is allowed to talk while in the air.

Only the airlines should be making rules like this. Let them, and let the market decide what policies should be. If United wants to allow cell phones and American wants to prohibit them, both should be allowed to make their respective decisions. If I want to use my phone in the air, then I'll book my ticket on an airline that allows it. And if I don't want to be on a plane with phone usage, then I'll book my ticket on the airline that prohibits it. But under no circumstance do I want a bunch of government bureaucrats to be making that decision if it doesn't affect the safety of air travel or the stability of the mobile phone network.

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