But it’s a mobile world!?

The Russian State Commission of Radio Frequencies has reportedly granted permission for carriers to deploy in-flight mobile connectivity systems on their aircraft.

Reports are sketchy right now (one says Aeroflot will trial connectivity on two aircraft) but if Russia has taken this step, I congratulate the country on being more forward-thinking in this regard than the USA, where lawmakers are trying to implement a permanent federal ban on wireless voice calls (including VoIP) just in case the current FCC ban on in-flight cell phone use doesn’t stay in place.

I wonder what Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks of the USA’s policy. After all, Schmidt last week told the Mobile World Congress that the firm’s new guiding principle is ‘Mobile First’.
“It is the phone that is the meeting point” or “intersection” between the three technology waves – computing power, connectivity, and cloud computing, said Schmidt.

“All of a sudden there are things you can do that were never even possible because of this convergence.”

By the way, that convergence doesn’t exclude voice. Quite the contrary. Listen to Schmidt’s speech here:

I recently wrote a guest post for the Harrisburg International airport blog called “Ban snoring while you’re at it”, which is about the USA’s stance on in-flight cell phone use (see link). I know I’ve been banging this drum for some time, but it bears re-beating in light of Google’s new ‘Mobile First’ declaration.

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8 Responses to But it’s a mobile world!?

  1. Dave February 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Who would have thought the former Soviet state carrier would be more progressive than us here in America? Anyways, the Congress is full of incompetent corrupt jerks. I mean shouldn’t they have more pressing concerns- like, you know, our economic meltdown that they should be dealing with?

    On a side note- Mary, I feel this blog has been less awesome lately. Approximately, 15% maybe even 20% less awesome. I demand that you be more entertaining! That is all- Dave has spoken.

  2. Mary Kirby February 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Up to 20% less awesome! That is serious. If you care to be more explicit, I am all ears.

  3. Dave February 23, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    I’m thinking the articles are too long… it’s painful to get into that level of detail about an airline seat or some such. Are blogs not meant to supply a quick easy to digest summary? I mean like 30 seconds or so to get the skinny version- like you used to do before. I’m afraid with my short attention span, I can’t get through some of these long posts… it could be ADD on my part, but this is the internet damn it- it’s designed for people with ADD.

  4. KDR February 23, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    I am in the industry. This Blog is plenty Awesome! IF you don’t like it go to another Blog. Oh wait, there isn’t one like this one.

  5. Greg R February 23, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    I don’t mind advocacy for using cellphones and/or making wireless calls while in flight although I continue to have grave doubts about in flight phone calls myself.

    I do, however, mind your characterization of bans of such use as “backwards”. It’s clear that it is an issue with voices on both sides of the argument. To characterize a national choice via law as “backwards” compared to another country who permits is just bias.

    That kind of choice is neither backwards nor forward thinking. It’s just a choice.

  6. Mary Kirby February 23, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    You’re right. I made up my mind on this issue a long time ago. The technology that makes voice calls possible underpins SMS/GPRS data. By trying to permanently ban the former, the USA will succeed in banning the latter, since the revenue model for the whole lot relies heavily on voice. I do believe it is shortsighted of the USA to allow lawmakers to legislate manners (with regard the voice issue). But backward might be a bit harsh. Shortsighted is better.

  7. Moniemobile February 24, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    Hi all,
    My thoughts on this is this…. For what it is worth :-)
    In every public place today (with the possible exception of a cinema) phones are being used. I take a train to work and people use phones for voice calls. Ever been on a bus, in a doctors waiting room, in a park, in a bar? Why would you want to regulate only the aircraft? What are you protecting against. (The last place on earth where phones can’t work!) Why?
    Today on an increasing number of aircraft voice calls are being made, Not one case of “Air Rage” no one cares. What difference is there really having a pax next to you who won’t stop talking to you about their life or having them talking on a phone to someone else about how the aircraft is just flying over Greenland….
    The USA needs to try and keep up with the rest of the world, including the Teleco’s there who as yet have not signed up with AM and Onair to allow their customers choice to make calls on “enlightened airlines.

  8. Greg R. February 24, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    There is one big difference between public use of cellphones in general and their use on an aircraft.

    It is impossible to get away from an cell phone user on an aircraft.

    You can ultimately walk away from a too loud talker in Starbucks or on a PATH train or even on a bus.

    Aircraft are already social pressure cookers, particularly in the US. Adding that additional potential invasion of personal space is what concerns to many here. Sadly, there is already a lot of evidence that there are some who’ll never behave appropriately on aircraft no matter what the polite request.

    Consequently, there are a number of frequent travelers here who remain against cell phone use. It’s not about restricting communications or keeping up with theJoneses. No one is anti-WiFi on aircraft, for instance. It’s just a choice about introducing another source for conflict on aircraft.