FCC Drops Proposal to Allow Cell Phones on Planes

Friday Apr 14th 2017 by Carl Weinschenk
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The government has shown itself willing to step in and keep cellphones off planes. In any case, airlines would have the final say, and it seems unlikely that any would take this step.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has scrapped a proposal to allow cell phone calls during flights. Ars Technica says the proposal was initially floated in 2013.

The concerns that led to the ban in 1991 were safety related, and those concerns have abated due to the evolution of the technology.  The reason the ban will remain is more about the mental than the physical well-being of passengers.

To some extent, the move was academic. The government has shown itself willing to step in and keep cellphones off planes. In any case, airlines would have the final say, and it seems unlikely that any would take this step.

Boeing 3D Prints Plane Parts

Boeing has retained Norsk Titanium AS to print parts for the 787 Dreamliner. This method of fabricating the structural elements will cut $2 million to $3 million off the cost of each aircraft, says Reuters.

The contract, which was announced on Monday, is a sign of the acceptance of 3D printing. Strong and lightweight titanium is far more costly than aluminum, and Boeing has been seeking ways to cut those costs. Boeing builds about 144 Dreamliners annually. The craft uses more titanium than other types of aircraft, which obviously gives Boeing an incentive to find ways to cut the cost of its use.

United Airlines Should Look at Artificial Intelligence

Continuing on this week’s theme of aeronautical stories, a columnist at Computerworld suggested that machine learning could have saved United Airlines a tremendous amount of bad publicity and, in terms of its stock price, a significant amount of money.

One of the biggest stories of the week, and perhaps the story of the year in marketing, was the saga of an airline passenger who was injured when he refused to give up his seat on a flight from O’Hare Airport in Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. John Brandon suggests that machine learning could have been the answer, and could avoid such breakdowns in the future:

Here’s how it would work. Because there is already a wealth of data related to passenger counts, who needs to get to their destination and when, and even which employees are on stand-by for a given flight, machine learning could determine who should be allowed to board and when. Not allowing someone to board is a different issue for airlines than asking someone to disembark. It has a different set of security parameters, and a different set of passenger relation issues.

Airline employees often don’t have up to date data and are often overwhelmed. Using machine learning, he suggests, can help avoid such a scenario.

FCC’s Broadband Auction Raises $19.8B

The FCC yesterday released the results of its broadband incentive auction, aimed at freeing up broadcast spectrum for use by wireless networks. The auction, which was authorized by Congress in 2012, is an important step in the evolution of 5G.

The FCC says that the auctioning of 70 MHz of spectrum raised $19.8 billion. More than $10 billion will go to 175 broadcasters who participated in the incentive auction. Thirty of the broadcasters will be compensated for moving to lower channels, and another 133 will relinquish their licenses and remain on the air through channel-sharing arrangements with non-winning stations.

The industry will now enter a 39-month period during which these changes will be implemented.

ONOS Releases SDN Deployment Models

The implementation of software-defined networks (SDNs) is a very complex and challenging task. This week, the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) released recommendations. ONOS is a joint effort of The Open Networking Foundation and the Open Networking Lab (ONF and ON.Lab).

The disruptive approach, RCR Wireless Report said, “is more straightforward in that it leverages white boxes and ONOS for real-time network control.” The incremental model is nuanced, includes incorporation of legacy systems, and can be used on an as-needed basis, while the older equipment is gradually cycled out of the network.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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