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Old 04-07-2008, 11:23 PM   #1
NatCh
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Post Flying the Cellular Skies: EU okays use of mobile-phones above 3000 meters

Flying the Cellular Skies: EU okays use of mobile-phones above 3000 meters

For those who haven't already seen this on the evening news, the European Union has given the go-ahead for a plan to allow use of personal mobile phones on flights once they get above 10,000 feet. Chaos to ensue shortly, I'm sure.

Apparently Dubai-based Emirates Airlines started doing the same thing last month, but didn't get the media attention.

From the Associated Press:
Quote:
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — You can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe later this year under new rules that will allow air travelers to stay in touch — and raise the cringe-inducing prospect of sitting next to a chatterbox at 30,000 feet.

But don't expect to use your phone on a U.S. flight anytime soon.

The decision Monday by the European Union makes the 27-nation bloc the first region in the world to scrap bans on the use of cell phones in the sky. The EU insists the change will not compromise safety.

Cell phone calls will be connected through an onboard base station — think of a miniature cell phone tower — linked to a satellite and then to ground networks. A flight's captain will have the power to turn off service anytime.

Phone service will be blocked during takeoff and landing, EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said. That means using your cell phone will fall under roughly the same restrictions as using your laptop or iPod.

EU officials also say the system has been thoroughly tested. They say the calls will not interfere with flight navigation and will have additional safeguard to protect against terrorism.
As you might imagine, not everyone loves this plan.
Quote:
Meanwhile, travelers are already expressing concern about another kind of disruption — noisy passengers. The friendly skies are one of the last refuges against shrill ringtones and yapping callers.

"If they use a mobile phone on long distance flights, it would be an inconvenience, especially at night," said Stein Smulders of Halle, Belgium, who commutes by train.
"But what about safety" you say? "Don't those nasty phone signals make planes crash?" The FAA is still holding to that line, but the EU says they have that little problem licked.
Quote:
On European flights, installing a base station on the plane will allow calls to go directly to a satellite system, preventing phones from wreaking havoc with flight instruments by sending out signals indiscriminately, EU officials said.
I admit that I'm a ways from the day I earned my Electronics Engineering degree, but I seem to remember something about broadcasting being, well, broad. As in not directional (or discriminate, however that applies). But apparently in the EU (or at least over it), you can use a base station to suck all thos nasty broadcast signals into one spot so they don't bother anything.

Oh, maybe this clears it up:
Quote:
Installing small base stations on planes helps ensure phones won't give off strong signals trying to connect with a tower on the ground. But Dave Carson, co-chairman of an RTCA Inc. committee studying wireless safety on planes for the FAA, said there was still a risk that a phone might try to connect with a ground tower.
Well, maybe a little.

Full story here, and a quick Q&A here.


Is this a final answer to the question of whether cell phones interfere with airplanes' systems? Probably not. Probably not even a little.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:28 AM   #2
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Great, now the plane will be as bad as the train and bus for cellphone yapping. I wonder what policies the airlines will implement. If you've seen "The Chaser" they have a weekly "Clive the slightly too loud commuter" gag that sums it up nicely.

My solution is to answer when someone addresses me... it leads to very odd 3-way conversations.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by NatCh View Post
Flying the Cellular Skies: EU okays use of mobile-phones above 3000 meters


Is this a final answer to the question of whether cell phones interfere with airplanes' systems? Probably not. Probably not even a little.
You are correct, probably not. Cell-phones are variable power output with the lowest power needed for a cell-tower that is inside the plane itself. This also covers the FCC problem with overloaded cell-towers on the ground which was an even bigger issue. However, will it give cart blanch to people on planes that don't have the inside the plane cell-tower feature. They are likely to think it is now ok to use a cell-phone even thought they won't be using low power and they will be overloading ground towers. They need to make it clear which planes are equipped.

By the way, this has been coming for a while now. There may also be a roaming charge from the cell-tower on the plane.

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Old 04-08-2008, 02:38 AM   #4
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oh, goodie...I am so thrilled...a couple months back I saw and experienced what could be the penultimate example of this potential nightmare in the sky which could lead to the blue flush of death for many a cell phone.

I was sitting at Starbucks have some coffee and getting some paperwork done. The table next to me became populated with just two teenage girls. Who, decided to listen to their ipOds, have a conversation with each other THEN each got on their cell's and made calls...all with the iplods still turned up enough that I could hear them just ever so slightly...that is when each happened to inhale at the same time so the room went from 130db down to 50db.

It was the most amazing example of the excesses we have created with the range of self orientated gadgets. These girls were not satisfied with just sitting and having a nice conversation, not satisfied with listening to their ipods, not holding a conversation and talking loudly enough to hear each other over their ipods so they had to ADD their cell phones into the mix.

I was paralyzed in amazement and how self absorbed these kids were. Of course WE never acted stooopid when we were their age...but this...it was beyond the pale of what I could ever have imagined as over the top it could become.

Wanna know the most ironic part? BOTH worked at Starbucks...and both know it's one of the loudest SB's you might ever find because of it's design and acoustics.

Like I say I can see more then a few nightmare problems on planes. I know when I fly I am often completely exhausted and actually plan on sleeping the entire flight. But if there are a few dozen fog-horn leg-horn types on their cell's...one or several of those phones is gonna end up blue and I imagine I will be asked to never fly again...hehehehe....

I also feel for the flight attendants who will now have to try and ride herd over these overcaffeinated cell phone junkies...nope, this cannot work out well at all.

All that is needed is to add disco-sales-guy in the seat on the other side of me...maybe investing in a set of nice noise cancelling earbuds is now a MUST out of self preservation.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:27 AM   #5
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Oh no!

Why did they do it?
So far, was the only public transport where you could sit quietly and read a book or have a nap without being interrupted every few seconds by various horrible ring tones and everybody chatting LOUDLY.....


Last edited by astra; 04-08-2008 at 09:42 AM. Reason: grammar...
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:23 AM   #6
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They will probably sell silent seats for more money...
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:47 AM   #7
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As a frequent business traveler this is one of the worst things that can happen. So much for using the flights as an opportunity to quietly enjoy a good book. We'll now need to listen to all the self important idiots talk loudly about nothing!
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:35 AM   #8
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They will probably sell silent seats for more money...
I'd pay extra for that now!
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:44 AM   #9
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In the UK, most intercity train services have "silent" carriages, where mobiles, iPods, etc, are banned. Doesn't really work on a plane, though .
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:08 AM   #10
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In the UK, most intercity train services have "silent" carriages, where mobiles, iPods, etc, are banned. Doesn't really work on a plane, though .
They have "silent cars" on my MARC commuter train running into Washington, D.C., where they "discourage" cell phone use and ask you to be courteous of your fellow passengers... in other words, "Keep it down, yo."

I've also noticed more people wearing earbuds designed to cut down on noise, making the non-silent cars much more bearable. My MP3 player's earbuds double as noise suppressors, and it makes the much louder Metro a lot more comfortable.

As far as the notice... now, they just have to concentrate on keeping the airlines flying...
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:56 PM   #11
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oh,
I was sitting at Starbucks have some coffee and getting some paperwork done. The table next to me became populated with just two teenage girls. Who, decided to listen to their ipOds, have a conversation with each other THEN each got on their cell's and made calls...all with the iplods still turned up enough that I could hear them just ever so slightly...that is when each happened to inhale at the same time so the room went from 130db down to 50db.

It was the most amazing example of the excesses we have created with the range of self orientated gadgets. These girls were not satisfied with just sitting and having a nice conversation, not satisfied with listening to their ipods, not holding a conversation and talking loudly enough to hear each other over their ipods so they had to ADD their cell phones into the mix.

I was paralyzed in amazement and how self absorbed these kids were. Of course WE never acted stooopid when we were their age...but this...it was beyond the pale of what I could ever have imagined as over the top it could become.


I also feel for the flight attendants who will now have to try and ride herd over these overcaffeinated cell phone junkies...nope, this cannot work out well at all.
I think this is where I would get one of those digital recorders, record their conversation and play it back loudy so they were listening. They might shut up when they know they are being recorded. Hmm...

Seth Williams,
San Francisco, CA
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Old 04-09-2008, 01:52 AM   #12
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I think this is where I would get one of those digital recorders, record their conversation and play it back loudy so they were listening. They might shut up when they know they are being recorded. Hmm...

Seth Williams,
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Oh, geeze, if I had my Nokia or Clie (don't use a cell, I am weird that way...had one for a LOOOONG time but never again) with me that would have been PERFECT...the heck with showing them, I would have You-Tube'd them right then and there and shown them THAT!! snickersnicker...note to self, break down and buy a video cam for the laptop.

I STILL chuckle over that day. I sat there in utter amazement. I think I was just too stunned to even think anything but "...I can't believe I am seeing this..."
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:07 AM   #13
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I'm astounded. Just when I'm convinced that there's no socially redeeming value in youtube, you lot go and find one!
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Old 04-11-2008, 01:22 AM   #14
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This is yet another example of government regulation holding back development of American industry. So sad. The best flight I was ever on was a flight on Korean Air (god I love that airline) flying from Washington, D.C. to Seoul, Korea. Those of you who have never flown such a flight might be able to imagine that it's pretty long. Luckily, I had internet the nearly the entire 15 hour flight thanks to wifi on the plane and internet from satellites. I think airlines in the U.S. have just started at looking at options to do the same for planes in the the states. Nothing seems to have come from it so far.

The great thing about cell phones is that they can be used for more than talking. Anyone who has ridden the train or subway in Japan might recall some "no talking" rules. Passengers of the subway are requested to not talk on their cell phones. Instead, people are often using their phones to text, read, listen to music, play games, watch TV, or do anything else that people do on their phones these days. There are stores in the U.S. that require customers to not talk on their cell phones while in the store. It shouldn't be too hard to imagine that airlines might require the same thing of their passengers so as to create a more comfortable atmosphere for everyone on the plane (if I were head of an airline I know I wouldn't want my passengers complaining about that one loud guy who couldn't shut up for 10 minutes on the whole damn flight). This would still leave open other services offered on cell phones, especially texting, which I think would be more useful on a flight than calling. Everyone always thinks about the worst scenario when new things become available. I, for one, want to know why it's taken so long to get to this point. The FAA needs to own up and quit holding us back.

Last edited by SpiderMatt; 04-11-2008 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 04-11-2008, 02:19 AM   #15
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I'm astounded. Just when I'm convinced that there's no socially redeeming value in youtube, you lot go and find one!

oh, sure...make me feel like the "bad guy"...

BTW, I am with you on stuff like youtube but of late I have found a ton of excellent video demos of software and uses for my N800 tablet...so, I am actually on the fence over this stuff, well, maybe not...
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