Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Cellphones in Flight - One Technology We Don't Need

Techdirt links to a story of the upcoming ability for people to use cellphones on planes. This is a technology I'm dreading.

Airplanes are the one public place where you have some sort of peace from hearing others yell over their phones. While taxiing on the tarmac or whenever the flight attendant states "you may use your cellphones", half the plane starts yelling into their phones (I always wait until I am in the airport if I have to use my cell - what's a few extra minutes?). Imagine hearing this yelling for hours on end on a long haul flight. And with the engines going full blast, the yelling will be even louder.

In other public places you at least have the ability to get away from the yelling. On a plane, you are in an enclosed tube, and if your seat neighbor starts yelling away on the phone, you have no alternative but to listen. You think the in-flight movie is hard to hear now?

In Japan - a country more cell happy than the U.S. - public forms of transportation are cell-free zones, even if cellphones are usable: subways, trains, Shinkanzen (bullet trains) all have little signs with a cellphone with a "x" through it. If people end up taking calls, they at least go to the restroom areas where they at least don't disturb their neighbors.

I don't think it's too much to ask to keep planes cell-free. What they do need to do is get in-flight internet. Then at least people could do email, browse, or blog without disturbing their neighbors.

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