Another holdup has been aviation safety. The Federal Aviation Administration has barred the use of mobile phones on U.S. flights for years because of potential interference with a plane’s navigational signals. Those concerns might diminish once the foreign airlines’ test results come in. However, one study at Carnegie Mellon University found that passengers were surreptitiously making cellphone calls despite the ban, and suggested that there were around 25 incidents of interference with aircraft communications each year (although the evidence that this was caused by cellphones is circumstantial). Other experts note that no accidents have been directly tied to use of cellphones. FAA spokesman Les Dorr told PM that as long as the FCC is opposed, “it’s a moot point anyway.”
Airlines in the U.S. could, of course, push for cellphones if they thought their customers really wanted it. Instead, they’re competing to be the first to offer wireless Internet access. A few months ago JetBlue started its limited in-flight broadband Wi-Fi service on a few aircraft, in partnership with Yahoo and Research in Motion; Blackberry users can send and receive e-mail from any account, while laptop users are limited to Yahoo for their e-mailing and instant messaging. American Airlines and Virgin America are also working with U.S. provider AirCell to roll out Web browsing and e-mail capabilities, and just won FAA approval to start installing the hardware abroad American’s 767-200 fleet. Southwest and Alaska Airlines are also planning Wi-Fi experiments of their own.
Bullshit! It has nothing to do with this. Airphone was a massive success that was only curtailed because the costs were too high. The reason why this is being scuttled is because talking on the plane is a last mile paradigm, and until the airlines and the FCC figure out a way to make it a monopoly just like the land line, they're going to sit on it. The customer be damned. I don't buy that most people were opposed to in flight calls. Being trapped in a sardine tube for 4 hours while flying coast to coast is completely dead time. PLUS, what are they going to do when WiFi service goes up and I make a Skype call? Through my VPN to avoid service blocking?