CONCURRING STATEMENT OF
COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
Expanding Access to Mobile Wireless Services Onboard Aircraft, Notice of Proposed
WT Docket 13-301.
More than two decades ago, the Commission adopted rules prohibiting the use of cell phones on
commercial and private aircraft. These rules, specific to the 800 MHz band, were part of an effort to
promote safety and prevent harmful interference.
Today, the Commission begins a rulemaking to reassess this prohibition. In this rulemaking, we
ask many questions about the use of cellphones on planes, including for voice calls. As a matter of
principle, I believe it is good to ask questions—even the hard ones. So I will concur.
But make no mistake, I do not like this proceeding. Because I believe as public servants we have
a duty to look beyond these four walls and ask ourselves if our actions do in fact serve the public. When
it comes to authorizing voice calls on planes, I think the answer is a resounding no. We are not just
technicians. Whatever bureaucratic desire we have to harmonize our 800 MHz spectrum rules does not
absolve ourselves of the consequences of our decisions. If we move beyond what we do here today and
actually update our rules to allow voice calls on planes, we could see a future where our quiet time is
monetized and seating in the silent section comes at a premium. But worse, given the anger this proposal
has generated and the negative response of so many of those who work on planes, I fear that our safety
would be compromised. This is not acceptable.
I fly a lot. I am a regular resident of the last row and middle seat. I know what it is like to have
the person in front of you pop their seat back, leaving you scrambling to hold on to your drink, hold on to
your reading material, and hold on to some semblance of peace. It is not easy. This Commission does
not need to add to that burden. I, for one, will not.