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CEA Comments on Use of Wireless Devices Aboard Aircraft

Changes in Regulation Should Allow Wireless Data–Not Voice Services–on Airplanes

Arlington, Virginia, 5/27/2005 — In-flight use of wireless data, rather than voice functionality, should be permitted for individuals who choose to use wireless phones, email devices, PDAs or laptops while flying, urged the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in comments filed today with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In its comments, CEA called for careful evaluation of changes to rules regarding the use of portable electronic devices aboard aircraft.

“It is absolutely imperative that the airlines, the FCC and the wireless industry give careful consideration to the impact of cell phone calls on airplanes,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “There is no denying we are a mobile and connected society, but individuals can maintain air-to-ground communication quickly and effectively through the use of wireless data and Internet access, and there are clear benefits to such services on airplanes.”

At the same time, CEA cautioned the Commission against expanding passengers’ ability to utilize voice communication while on-board airplanes. “The use of voice communications in flight poses significant risk of disruption to travelers in the confined space of an airplane,” stated Shapiro. “Proper etiquette for the use of wireless voice communication devices should be as important in the air as it is on the ground. For this reason, CEA supports limits on voice communications, as determined and enforced by individual airlines.”

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration does not allow the use of wireless transmitters while in flight. CEA recently developed a Recommended Practice – Status Indicator for and Control of Transmitters in Portable Electronic Devices, which is intended to facilitate disabling and enabling of transmitters in wireless devices and provide common symbols and terminology.

“During certain phases of commercial flight, present regulations and airline policy typically require all devices to be turned off and stowed,” added Shapiro. “Notwithstanding future changes in policy, and as consumers enjoy more wireless options going forward, having a simple and easily recognizable way to operate their devices in different environments will be even more important.”

About CEA
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry through technology policy, events, research, promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA represents more than 2,000 corporate members involved in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and integration of audio, video, mobile electronics, wireless and landline communications, information technology, home networking, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. Combined, CEA’s members account for more than $121 billion in annual sales. CEA’s resources are available online at www.CE.org, the definitive source for information about the consumer electronics industry.

CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Defining Tomorrow’s Technology. All profits from CES are reinvested into industry services, including technical training and education, industry promotion, engineering standards development, market research and legislative advocacy.

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