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FCC to FAA: Mobile devices in-flight will boost competitiveness

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The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing for wider adoption of regulations that allow in-flight use of gadgets including smartphones and tablets.

On Thursday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to discuss the possibility of "enabling greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices" during flights, according to The Hill.

After a study group was launched by the FAA in summer to review guidance policies on the use of electronic devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, the FAA will not allow "voice communications" -- although there are ways to circumvent that --but may be open to the idea of relaxing restrictions on gadgets.

Genachowski said he would work with the FAA, airlines and manufacturers when proceeding with the review.

"This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives," Genachowski writes. "They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."

The agency has recently approved rules which allow passengers to surf the Internet wirelessly on flights, and to this end, in-flight entertainment is becoming more frequently hosted on Wi-Fi networks. In addition, airlines including Emirates have began allowing fliers to make in-flight calls through EDGE and GPRS technology.

It's likely we'll see mobile devices becoming a standard setting on flights -- even if it's just the cabin crew who are equipped with them.

(via The Hill)

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on December 6, 2012, 7:50 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure