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Cellphones Transportation

Cell Phones To Be Allowed On UK Planes 217

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-great-this-will-make-the-trip-faster dept.
Matty the Monkey writes "The British regulator in charge of air travel has approved cellphones for use on airline flights, reports the BBC. Airlines will be allowed to activate base stations in the plane's tail after takeoff, creating a zone of mobile coverage around the plane. 'The services could stop working once aircraft leave European airspace. Initially, only second generation networks will be offered but growing interest would mean that third generation, or 3G, services would follow later, said Ofcom. The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground.'"
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Cell Phones To Be Allowed On UK Planes

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:27PM (#22874380) Homepage Journal
    I once had the displeasure of sitting on a plane on the tarmac for two hours while our flight was delayed and the pilot allowed everyone to use their cell phones. It was torture as most folks were not talking on their cell phones to arrange transportation or take care of business, but they were talking (loudly) about everything and nothing and forcing those around them to have to listen! Even worse, people began trying to speak over one another and the volume gradually increased until there was an amazing din of people calling their friends to say "Hey! Hey! Betcha can't guess where I'm calling you from! An airplane! Ha ha ha ha, yeah and on my own cell phone even!". It was a horrible forced invasion of personal space and having to listen to someone blabber on and on "Like I know she does not like me because, like, she totally gave me a bitchy look yesterday and I was so like, peeved you know? because like, I think she is just so.... like not on top of it...... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

    I am waiting for the smashed phones and fist fights to start happening in response to this.

    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:36PM (#22874516)
      Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?
      • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:44PM (#22874610) Journal
        I wouldn't mind it in the slightest if it were limited to non-voice uses. What's to object to? But conversations would be justification for homicide.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlnation (858981)

        Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?

        The vibration mode thing seems like an essential thing (in ALL public places actually). The sound made by incoming texts is just as annoying as some retard talking on the plane into their phone. It's Pavlovian. The sound of incoming message alert is designed to attract the attention of the recipi

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by qmaqdk (522323)

          The vibration mode thing seems like an essential thing (in ALL public places actually). The sound made by incoming texts is just as annoying as some retard talking on the plane into their phone. It's Pavlovian. The sound of incoming message alert is designed to attract the attention of the recipient -- unfortunately this also means everyone else within 40 feet.

          Agreed. I wish there was a way to force this on people, but as far as I know there isn't.

          As an aside, I'm sure there must be a way of mathematically proving that the altitude of a phone call is inversely proportional to importance of the call.

          This on the other hand can be fixed. With pricing. Having the cell on the plane essentially means that people are roaming on the planes net, just as if you were in another country, and therefore you could attach a price to different usages. Voice could be made more expensive (i.e. meant for business use only), and data could be priced lower. I people really wanted to chit-chat they could use IM on their laptop instead

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Would you mind as much if this was only used for text messages and data plans for in-flight communications using a laptop? What if phones were forced into vibrate mode when they detected the picocell on the plane?"

        That would be nice...but, I try not to text msg...as that it costs like $0.10 each, and I pretty much get all the voice minutes I can use in my plan.

        But, I understand this is UK...and that maybe it is the opposite...cheaper to txt than to talk on cell phones over there?

        • Possibly. I'm a T-Mobile user, and I pay a flat fee to get unlimited test messages (alerts from servers and SCADA equipment).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by porpnorber (851345)
        I've never been able to understand why this feature is missing. It's so obviously necessary to be able to declare silent zones, emergency call only zones, and so on, and phones have radio transceivers. I mean, what, the designers of these devices don't know about churches, theatres, funeral homes, schools and business meetings? Bah.
    • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:37PM (#22874522)

      It was a horrible forced invasion of personal space and having to listen to someone blabber on and on "Like I know she does not like me because, like, she totally gave me a bitchy look yesterday and I was so like, peeved you know? because like, I think she is just so.... like not on top of it...... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

      When other people force me into their conversations in public, where I cannot really move away without significant inconvience, and the conversations are that inane, I generally join in. For instance, you could have said something like, "Oh, you know I hate when I get bitchy looks. You always know that... [I'm not going to continue, but if you talked for five minutes, they'll get off the phone." Alternatively, instead of talking for a long time, you could be uncouth; "She was probably bitchy because she was getting her period. After she's bled out her vagina for a few days, I'm sure she'll be fine."

      The important thing is to entertain yourself as you interfer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by morari (1080535)

        The important thing is to entertain yourself as you interfer.
        Sound advice, I only wish people would stop trying to be so polite and take it.
      • by droopycom (470921)
        Yeah sure... And you are also going to do that when the person sitting next to you is not a brain-less teenage girl but a brain-less frat boy which happen to be a ruthless member of the school football team going on spring break and already half drunk ?

        Even the brain-less teenage girl could inadvertantly spill her complimentary drink on you when you pissed her too much.

        Fist fights for sure....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The passengers don't deserve to be fist-fought nearly as much as the assholes who approved the policy.
    • by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:41PM (#22874570)
      >I once had the displeasure of sitting on a plane on the tarmac for two hours....

      It will be much worse when the plane is up and flying. Changes in pressure, plus the engine noise, are going to make hearing the tinny little speaker in mobile (since this is the UK) phones very difficult. And when hearing goes, shouting follows. Joy.
    • by kpainter (901021) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:47PM (#22874648)
      This is an opportunity! Bose makes that headset that cancels out engine noise pretty effectively. If somebody could make a headset that cancels out idiots on their cellphones, they would make a fortune. I say this jokingly but I am serious. I would buy one in a heartbeat.
      • by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:50PM (#22874696) Homepage Journal
        I have the nice Bose headsets and while, yes... they do cancel out engine noise nicely, they are so well engineered that you can very easily hear voices and conversations sitting next to you or on the overhead PA. Believe me, I have elite frequent flyer status and fly enough to know that this policy is going to cause problems.
        • by xaxa (988988)
          If it's expensive enough to phone (e.g. £0.50 per minute? £1 a minute?) then it shouldn't be a problem, people will text instead. But probably the airlines will try and maximise the return on the calls made (assuming they take a cut), rather than minimise the annoyance.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:50PM (#22875286) Journal
        A headset that cancels out the idiots is easy - just make sure there's a high enough potential difference between the two earphones. The difficult part is persuading said idiots to wear it...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by martinw89 (1229324)
      As someone who uses public transportation, I know that a weak signal for someone using a cell means I have to plug in the canal phones [wikipedia.org]. Now with satellite delay and engine noise, I think I'm going to need more noise blocking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      There's only one thing to in this situation: Retaliation. You should have pulled out a giant phone and stood right next to them and screamed "I'M ON A PLANE!!!" right next to their ear, "I'M ON PLANE AND THERE'S THIS WANKER NEXT TO ME TALKING SHIT!!!!".
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Listen and repeat...

        "Vous retournez chez toi dans une ambulance."

        "You are going home in an ambulance." ...

         
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I have an ingenious solution! Sell phone hacking kits (sniff and hijack the frequencies being operated on, and induce noise/a recording of someone telling them to STFU) - and then only sell it in kits! That way, stupid people can't buy them, because they won't know about them and if they did, wouldn't be able to put them together.
    • by elliotm00 (1204958) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:01PM (#22874820)
      This whole problem of people talking loudly on a cell phone is due to a fundamental flaw in cell phone design. In the old-style AT&T wired phones, your voice was fed back to the handset receiver, so you could hear yourself when you're talking.

      With cell phones, this doesn't happen, so you feel like you need to speak loud enough to hear yourself. Which is louder than a normal conversation because you're covering one ear.

      Why cell phone manufacturers don't feed back your voice to the receiver, I don't know.
    • by onkelonkel (560274) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:19PM (#22874990)
      Death cannot come swiftly enough to those morons. I ride the bus every day and I get a full dose. Apparently some people don't see anything wrong with subjecting fellow passengers to an hour long conversation. There are 3 types of calls on the bus -

      1. Incoming Call - Ring ring. Hello, Hi Larry, No, I'm on the bus, I'll call you when I get to the office. Bye.

      2. Person gets on bus and calls - Hi, I just got on the bus, pick me up at the bus loop at 5, thanks bye.

      3. Person gets on bus (ok, girl gets on bus) - talks loudly, same conversation as the one you quoted. "So she's all like get over it you know and I go like whatever and she goes.......blah de blah ..." for a solid hour.

      Calls #1 & #2 - no problem, they don't bother me, the person is being considerate of others. Call #3, They'll find her corpse stuffed into a culvert somewhere, and the cause of demise will be suffocation due to a cell phone lodged in the trachea. Not that I'm angry or anything. As long as the jury members are over 30 I'll never be convicted either.

      Sure, cel phones on a plane, what could possibly go wrong. /twitch.
      • by morari (1080535)

        Apparently some people don't see anything wrong with subjecting fellow passengers to an hour long conversation.

        It has always amazed me more so that these people care nothing for their own privacy. Anytime that I'm out in public, I try not to be heard while conversing because it isn't anyone else's business. Of course, in a society that devalues privacy more and more everyday, it isn't entirely surprising. Or are these people just that self-centered and oblivious of their surroundings?

        • by xaxa (988988)
          I get <i>embarrassed</i> if other people can hear me on the phone.
             "Yes mum, I'm on the train, I'l--"
             "I can't hear you, can you talk louder?"
             "No, I'm on the train.  To London.  It'll be there in 40 minutes, it won't be late"
          and while that's going on I'm trying to still look cool (and probably failing).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Right when I saw the summary I predicted this comment.

      Someone talking on the phone next to me is no worse than them watching hentai on their Neno with the volume turned up to deaf-before-50 level.

      Yes, that has happened to me.
    • by mapkinase (958129)
      Some people do not realize that talking to someone on the phone and talking to someone near you are completely different things.

      The quality of audio on the phone is much, much, much worse than quality of audio in real conversation, so people have to talk much louder. In real conversation people can whisper. Have you ever seen anybody whispering on the phone?

      Tag me Captain obvious, but I am really tired to hear the argument: "What, now I cannot talk?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sasdrtx (914842)
      I am far more fed up with the whining about cell phones here on /. than I'll ever be with actual people babbling on the phone.

      People like to talk. Get over it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by belg4mit (152620)
        *Some* people like to talk, *some* people like to be heard, and *some* people like to listen.
        These people should recognize that not everyone fits into all of these categories. Nor do they
        apply all of the time. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200303/rauch/ [theatlantic.com]

        There are plenty of public spaces where there is a reasonable expectation of little noise
        (libraries, movie theaters, plays, public meetings, most kinds of stores) and this expectation
        has always been implicit for airplanes (the alternative was not an option).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WaltFrench (165051)
      Maybe I didn't set my threshold low enough?

      But after scanning ALL the posts, I didn't see a single one, which said, "oh, if this is a PITA, I'll just explain to my neighbor that (s)he is being obnoxious; please don't invade my space." Nor one, which said, "I'll just ask the attendant to manage the situation, optionally threatening to write the airline explaining that they are forfeiting my patronage, naming the specific crew who caused the difficulty.

      Why do ordinary solutions seem extraordinary on Slash
  • Aaaargh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bazman (4849) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:28PM (#22874392) Journal
    Sales of noise-cancelling headphones suddenly rise...

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:35PM (#22874496)
      Wonderful invention. Buy them by the box.

       
      • by riceboy50 (631755)
        It makes it impossible to hear announcements over the PA.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by badboy_tw2002 (524611)
          Don't worry, if the plane tips over and points straight down that's your cue to take them out.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by sricetx (806767)
        I always fly wearing earplugs. Specifically Flents' Flitemate pressure-reducing earplugs. Not only do they keep my ears from building up painful pressure upon descent, they have the very beneficial side effect of sending the message "no, I do NOT want to talk to you" to the fat dimwit inevitably siting next to me on the plane.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          Finally! Someone that doesn't want to hear other people talk, yet is smart enough to buy earplugs. For some reason it seems that the less a person likes to hear other people use cell phones the lower their intelligence goes. It is good to see that this is not a universal truth. There might actually be hope for other people that like it to be silent in public places.
          • by Fishead (658061)
            I pulled out ear plugs once on a road trip when the kids were getting loud in the back seat. I got in flack though because I didn't bring a pair for the wife.

            When I used to fly, I would wear earplugs, then ear phones (the big ones) on top. It worked pretty good, and with engine noise and such, wouldn't disturb anyone else. My biggest problem was that cranked to full volume, the battery wouldn't make it for the 8-10 hours of flying.
          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Finally! Someone that doesn't want to hear other people talk, yet is smart enough to buy earplugs. For some reason it seems that the less a person likes to hear other people use cell phones the lower their intelligence goes. It is good to see that this is not a universal truth. There might actually be hope for other people that like it to be silent in public places."

            I just plug in my Shure in ear phones...open up the laptop, and usually play my Zeppelin DVD or a bootleg Stones DVD I got...and jam with th

            • by Tacvek (948259)

              I just plug in my Shure in ear phones...open up the laptop, and usually play my Zeppelin DVD or a bootleg Stones DVD I got...and jam with that. Pretty much eliminates talking to anyone. I only pause or stop to order drinks.
              You listen to music stored on DVD? DVD-audio never took-off, so I'm bit surprised.
              • A dvd can hold a TON of MP3 files, for a very low price. A pack of dvds and a case is cheaper for write-once media like music than another external hard drive.
              • by cayenne8 (626475)
                "You listen to music stored on DVD? DVD-audio never took-off, so I'm bit surprised."

                Concert DVD's....I"m jamming to them in concert....watching and listening.

                :-)

          • by Al Dimond (792444)
            Wearing earplugs doesn't just filter out cellphone talker noise. It's important to be able to hear unexpected sounds.

            People have always had conversations in public. It's only become a particular nuisance on cellphones because they talk so loud. There's no reason to talk above a 6-inch voice in a face-to-face conversation on a train or airplane, and no reason to do so on a cellphone either. But because people have a hard time hearing on cellphones and don't have feedback of their own voice through the ea
            • by Belial6 (794905)
              "Wearing earplugs doesn't just filter out cellphone talker noise. It's important to be able to hear unexpected sounds."

              This is simply a lie. There are no "unexpected sounds" that it is important to hear on an airplane. You are simply self centered, and think that it is better for everybody to do what you say than it is for you to take care of yourself.
              • by Al Dimond (792444) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:25PM (#22876332) Journal
                I'm self-centered because I'd like people to follow basic rules of public courtesy that have been customary since the beginning of time? No. I don't ask that people not talk on cell phones, just that they talk in the six-inch voices necessary for their phones to pick up the sound of their voices. Doing so doesn't affect in any way the ability of the speaker to have a conversation.

                This isn't about unexpected sounds on airplanes (that was probably not well worded, sorry). This is about public spaces in general, and about any sounds that could be useful to hear. It could be on a plane or on a train trying to have a conversation of my own at reasonable volume. Face-to-face, cell, walkie-talkie, whatever. I actually don't fly much, but I ride the L (Chicago subway/elevated trains) pretty often; if I had earplugs in on the L I might miss a change-of-service announcement (sometimes when trains get bunched they'll have the lead train skip stops). And I'd certainly be less aware of people around me trying to board and depart crowded trains. Fortunately not very many people talk loudly on the L, and not many people wear earplugs, because a train full of people that couldn't hear anything would really suck.

                I think it's great that someone is finally putting to rest the idea that cell phones will harm plane navigation systems, and is even working out a solution to make in-flight calls work. Go progress! Now why can't people progress (or even just not regress) in their ability to behave conscientiously? You know, take regard for the people around them? You calling me self-centered is fucking laughable.
        • I always fly wearing earplugs. Specifically Flents' Flitemate pressure-reducing earplugs. Not only do they keep my ears from building up painful pressure upon descent

          That of course breaks the laws of physics...
    • I think people are a little bit deceived by the ads for noise canceling headphones, which show images like a guy leaning back in his seat with the mom+screaming baby walled off behind soundproof glass thanks to the headphones.

      That's completely the opposite of what happens. The active noise reduction actually cancels the incoherent noise of the engines, wind, etc. Voices come through just fine, and you're going to be hearing that baby just as clear as before.
  • First off, why would it have to be more expensive. Secondly, just how do you intend on advertising that increased fee? What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground? Would I still have to pay a higher rate when today I don't have to?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Naughty Bob (1004174)
      >What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground?

      from the summary....

      >Airlines will be allowed to activate base stations in the plane's tail after takeoff...
      • by Bryansix (761547)
        But what if you are on a phone call while the damned plane is taking off and it switched over to the phones base station? Usually when you roam it tells you but I don't know in this case.
    • First off, why would it have to be more expensive.

      To deter people from yakking all the way on an 8 hour transatlantic flight.

      Secondly, just how do you intend on advertising that increased fee? What if I use my cell phone and the plane is still on the ground? Would I still have to pay a higher rate when today I don't have to?

      From what I've read, they'll disable the cells while on the ground and during takeoff and landing.

      Practicalities aside, who else thinks that cramming many people into a small spa

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        I think it is monumentally stupid to go into a crowded public place and NOT expect a lot of noise. Once you get past that monumentally stupid mistake, the next monumentally stupid mistake often made is not knowing what ear plugs are for, and thus knowing that if hearing other people talk annoys you, you can solve the problem with $0.15 worth of equipment.
        • by xaxa (988988)

          I think it is monumentally stupid to go into a crowded public place and NOT expect a lot of noise.
          You clearly haven't used public transport in Britain.
          No one talks to each other.
          • by Bryansix (761547)
            That's a bunch of bologna. I've been to London. I took the Tube every day and a heavy rail into and out of London every day. The heavy rail had like 5 people per car when we went to we all talked to each other. The Tube was packed and while we didn't carry on coversations, others did usually loudly. I learned some new words during those times.
            • by xaxa (988988)
              (I was keeping that comment short for some attempt at humour)

              At peak times you're unlikely to find people talking, probably because they don't know anyone else or haven't woken up yet.
              At other times, when there's likely to be friends or families going out together, then there might be people talking.

              (This is my experience from living in London.)
              • by Belial6 (794905)
                That kind of joke is only funny when it is true. When I visited London, the subways were plenty noisy.
    • (1) The extra base station costs money, and someone has to pay for it, after all I want to get paid for the work I've done on it don't I!

      (2) The satellite bandwidth costs money.

      (3) The extra infrastructure on the ground costs money.

      And, last time I heard, the ground in most places is lower than 3,000m so if you use your phone on the ground what happens is that you'll be just as liable to prosecution as you are today.

      Look mate, when there's a phone switched on in my plane I can hear it over the VHF radio - h
  • by Coraon (1080675) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:37PM (#22874520)
    as the pilots aren't making calls while flying. I don't want the last thing I hear is "Gotta go, about to crash"
  • 9/11 anybody? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Funny how all those 'cellphone calls' were made from planes above 3,000 feet on 9/11...

    "Mom, this is Mark Bingham"...
    • Yeah they were. I was on an airplane on 9/11 that was diverted from it's original destination of LA to Las Vegas. Immediately some guy pulled out his cell phone, made a call, and let us know what was going on.

      So I can tell you from personal experience that cell phones do, indeed, work on planes.
    • Re:9/11 anybody? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deadstick (535032) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:45PM (#22875216)
      Yes, dammit, cellphones will work from an airplane. That is not the problem.

      When your phone connects to a terminal, both the phone and the terminal measure the strength of each other's signal and they adjust their transmitting power to give a usable signal. That's why your battery charge doesn't last as long out in the country: your phone is transmitting at full power.

      When you're at high altitude in an airplane, your phone will connect to a terminal that might be fifty or a hundred miles away, it will use full power to do that, and it will hit every other cell tower within that range. That loads the system down.

      The system described in TFA puts a terminal right in the airplane, where your phone can communicate with it at minimum power. Then the signal goes over a reserved channel from the airplane to a dedicated ground terminal and into the main cell system, without fscking up everybody else on the same channel as your phone.

      rj
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the 9/11 commission people made cell phone calls from flight 93. How come they need extra equipment to make the calls now? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_93#Phone_calls [wikipedia.org]
    • by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:49PM (#22874678)
      Ok, troll feeding, but apparently you didn't even bother reading your own link.

      A. All but TWO of the calls came from cell phones. The rest were from Verizon Airfones that are mounted to the back of the middle seat that charge like $20/sec. (But ya know, if you're being hijacked, you make the damn call, charges be damned)

      B. The plane was about 2,500 feet off the ground when the cell phones were able to connect and then were dropped shortly after as the plane, well, crashed. Abridging the last paragraph in the LINK YOU BLOODY GAVE.

      So...yeah. Make a cell call from 30,000 feet and get back to us.
      • by compro01 (777531)

        So...yeah. Make a cell call from 30,000 feet and get back to us.
        being as we're only talking about 5-6 miles [google.ca] of completely open air, i don't think that would be a problem, though you'd be jumping cells pretty frequently, which is presume is why they're putting a cell site on the plane itself.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cloakable (885764)
      The problem isn't in the mobile phone - it's in the infrastructure. Your mobile phone, when switched on, tries to make a connection to the strongest base tower it can 'see'. On the ground, in a car, etc this isn't a problem - the car isn't moving too fast, and there's probably buildings, trees, etc blocking signals from lots of towers.

      Up in an aircraft, it's a very different situation - your phone can see plenty of different towers, and it'll register with all of them. The plane is moving pretty quickly too
    • by iangoldby (552781)
      Yes, it is perfectly possible for a cell phone in a plane at 3000m and probably much higher to contact a ground station and make a call.

      The problem for airlines is that in order to do this, the cell phone has to be operating on full power.

      When the cell phone is operating on full power, it is highly likely to interfere with the plane's navigation systems.

      By installing a mini base station in the passenger compartment of the plane, cell phones on the plane will lock onto the base station on the plane and opera
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:46PM (#22874638)
    With all the paranoia at airports, you can't even get on a plane with a 120g tube of toothpaste. But somehow cellular phones are ok, even though we can supposedly crash the plane if we turn it on at the wrong time? Basically if there is a buck to be made, the authorities and airlines are surprisingly flexible.
  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:49PM (#22874686) Homepage
    Sooner or later someone will mention phone jammers, and a few posts later someone will counter with the fact that it might block a doctors phone.

    This is the Godwin of mobile phone topics. Ok wait for it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wiz31337 (154231) *
      Screw the doctor, I'd be more worried about jamming the Pilot's radio communications.
    • Phone jamming. Awesome idea! After 25 minutes of listening to some idiot blathering on a cel phone at 30,000 ft his fellow passengers beat him senseless and then jam his celphone right up his....Oh wait, you're talking about a different kind of phone jamming. I guess that would work too. Not as educational though.
    • by ricebowl (999467) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:06PM (#22876166)

      Sooner or later someone will mention phone jammers, and a few posts later someone will counter with the fact that it might block a doctors phone.

      On an aeroplane? Why would a doctor, needing to receive calls, be on an aeroplane? If the doctor's likely to get calls regarding medical emergencies (I assume that's why you specified that profession) while he, or she, is on an aeroplane that's about to take off, or already in flight, I strongly suspect they wouldn't answer anyway.

  • So not only will we have to put up with babies crying* when the entire flight is trying to sleep, we'll now have to put up with some prick, most usually the same one from the cinema, who's left his phone on outdoor mode and is the only person on the flight who doesn't realise that its their phone that is ringing.

    *I know babies can't help it, but the parents could at least try and comfort them instead of letting them scream their heads off.
  • by pimpinmonk (238443) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @04:59PM (#22874788) Homepage

    The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground
    The cost of punching annoying cell-phone blabbing passenger on the phone next to you in the face, however, will remain constant
  • by nickull (943338) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:04PM (#22874856) Homepage Journal
    The real reason why cell phones are banned on planes has nothing to do with their interference with a planes navigation system. Think about it - if there was even a minimal chance that a cell phone could cause a crash of a commercial jet, no one would be allowed to bring one on board. The FAA has tests and will fail any wire not shielded to withstand such interference.

    The real reason is that cell phone networks are based on a 2 dimensional system. Cell towers grant leases based on which tower has the strongest signal from a particular phone. When the user of the phone moves from one tower's coverage to another, the lease is transferred. If a plane full of people flew over a metropolitan area with 150 cell phones negotiating leases, chaos ensues as the system is not designed to support a 3 dimensional model. Newer networks are but the older ones will be problematic. I highly suspect the British trial will have a special base on the plane which will take all the leases so the ground towers will not be affected.

    The last reason is annoyance. I actually used Skype on planes from Vancouver to Frankfurt equipped with Boeing's Connexion internet service. While the trial ended, it was clear that using Skype on an overnight commercial flight could cause a great deal of annoyance to passengers wanting to sleep. ON local flights, it might be acceptable for a few sociopaths to talk the entire time thus ensuring their fellow passengers have full details of their personal lives.

    I personally think that it will be less than two days before we see a newspaper article about a cleaning crew finding a passenger duct taped to the planes toilet with a cell phone shoved up his hind side.

    • . Cell towers grant leases based on which tower has the strongest signal from a particular phone. When the user of the phone moves from one tower's coverage to another, the lease is transferred. If a plane full of people flew over a metropolitan area with 150 cell phones negotiating leases, chaos ensues as the system is not designed to support a 3 dimensional model.

      Wouldn't a bunch of passengers on a high-speed train have the same problem? Especially the Intercity ones doing 120 miles/hour? From using a wir
      • Wouldn't a bunch of passengers on a high-speed train have the same problem?

        The newer ones all have base stations in the train, so I get a rock-steady signal all the way along the line. At least most people have manners, though, and the most you usually hear is the occasional ring tone (and the tap-tap-tap of email, of course!) and almost everyone leaves the carriage to talk on the phone.

        They also now have power, but still no WiFi on the newest trains, but that's another rant...

        And people have much wor

    • The real reason why cell phones are banned on planes has nothing to do with their interference with a planes navigation system.

      And you base this statement on what exactly? I'm a test pilot and I am sick of hearing these erroneous arguments every time this subject comes up. Every time we put a new piece of gear in a plane, we have to go through about 3-4 weeks of EMI testing to verify that the new addition doesn't interfere with the electronics of the aircraft. Guess what... the guys in the E3 lab alway

  • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:04PM (#22874858) Homepage Journal
    Wait, I'm so confused. I thought cell phones and other wireless devices emitted invisible pilot killing waves, so deadly that we must turn off all devices upon takeoff and landing, and put them into "pilot safe" mode when in flight?

    I saw a documentary on it here:
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/10/30 [penny-arcade.com]

    Oh, I guess that frequency-hopping signals really aren't that bad.
  • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:06PM (#22874874)
    On the Tokyo airport bus, the announcement says:

    "Passengers are reminded that portable telephones should not be used on the bus as they annoy the neighbors!"
    • That's just because they can't afford the liability if someone does use a mobile on the bus. Have you seen what happens to people who use mobile phones on busses in Tokyo? It's not pretty...
    • by xaxa (988988)
      And in the UK even, on many long distance trains (over about 70 miles)
      "Coach A is the quiet coach, passengers are reminded that using mobile phones, stereos etc is forbidden in this carriage."
    • My experience in Tokyo a few years ago concurs with yours. On the metro and underground trains a large proportion of passengers were using their phones, either for text or speech, but I was struck just how inconspicuously the phones were being used. Conversations were quiet and ringtones not too loud.

      As an avid hater of loud mobile phone users, my belief that the whole mobile phone problem lies with people not the technology, was reinforced.
  • In Other News... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:12PM (#22874916) Homepage
    ... the number of mid-air fatal beatings of fellow passengers with in-flight meals is about to rise 5000%.
  • So, let's say I'm talking on my cell phone. However, a plane with its own "cell tower" is in its tail heading toward me. What happens next? Will my phone see that as a stronger signal and hop to the plane, and then back to a ground station?

    I hope they figured this all out, because I can imagine overhead flights causing a lot of cellular interruption of service for those of us on the ground. Better yet, what happens when two planes cross paths?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by wasted time (891410)
      Better yet, what happens when two planes cross paths?

      My guess is all calls get dropped; and those two planes don't make their scheduled arrival times.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      There's no chance this will happen. A fast moving low power station will not cause a tower hand-off. Id be surprised if you could even connect to that thing trying with specialized equipment.
  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @05:29PM (#22875078)
    I'm old enough to remember the Jet Set era. Air travel was so glamorous then. But now...

    Phones. The latest in a series of moves designed to make traveling on a plane as excruciating as possible. Were I wearing a tinfoil hat I might even think it were a deliberate policy to discourage people from taking planes, in the name of terrorism or whatever this week's Reichstag fire is.
    1. First there's the awful journey in a car and the cost of parking in the long-term carpark (slightly cheaper than buying your own plane). Or a similar fee in any taxi, should you decide to leave your car at home.
    2. Next up is the confusing maze of finding your check-in point in a plastic ugly 60s monstrosity designed by the same blind architect who also does all the world's supermarket carparks.
    3. Then you wait in line to check-in. Usually behind a Mongolian rugby team, who all have visa issues, and who all want to ask very, very detailed questions about their seats.
    4. Then there's the security check. The hours of waiting, then the removing of shoes, belts, rings, laptops, false teeth, and god knows whatever else. This despite the fact that it's pretty easy to throttle a steward using the shoulder strap on your carry-on.
    5. Then you have to hang around for hours in the departure lounge (you arrived 3 hours early to beat the lines at security). You fill the time by buying bad coffee which costs about the same as 100 gallons of avation fuel. Tastes like it too.
    6. Then you get on the plane....
    And now some fucker's gonna sit and phone for hours?

    Screw planes, I'm going by boat. It's probably quicker.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)

      Screw planes, I'm going by boat. It's probably quicker.

      I do wonder if transatlantic boats are due for a comeback. If a trip to the US took a few days, but was comfortable, cheap, and gave you space and bandwidth where you could keep working, it would be a nice alternative to flying. The real problem is the speed. From London to New York is almost exactly 3,000 nautical miles (you could maybe have the port somewhere in Cornwall and shave a few percent off that, but we'll use it as a rough figure). A typical cruise ship gets around 20 knots, so it would take

  • by Tom (822)
    One more reason not to fly so often anymore.
  • Crying Wolf? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crispi (131688) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:05PM (#22875492)
    Hang on - I thought phones and all electronic devices on planes were dangerous.
    Or wait - perhaps we were being lied to all along? They're not dangerous, but in fact
    perfectly safe.

    Perhaps the biggest danger is people blocking isles not moving their legs when they are moving their lips. (no jokes please).

    C.
  • I just read the other day that Qantas is going to do this on some flight is Australia, but they are restricting use to Messaging and Data use only, so NO CALLING, Yeah!!
    The last thing you want on a Red-Eye flight to/from Perth etc is some numbskull blabbering on his phone.

    However it will be just like international romaing so its probably going to cost an arm and a leg to use
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:54PM (#22876568)
    I wouldn't mind idiots talking on their cell phones in-flight as long as they stepped outside to take the call.
  • Initially, using a phone on a plane will cost money. Eventually as airlines compete with each other, some will start throwing it in for free as a competitive measure to get more customers. When that happens, I hope some enterprising person discovers that a bunch of people like me are willing to pay extra to be on flights where phones are guaranteed to not work.

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