Solution Providers Applaud FAA's Move To Lift In-Flight Mobile Device Ban

The annoying requirement to power down mobile devices during flight take-off and landing has finally been lifted.

Those traveling by air will soon be able to utilize portable electronic devices throughout all periods of flight, with certain restrictions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last week.

Clifton Steele, chief authenticator at Davie, Fla.-based managed services provider Biztek, is cheering the FAA's decision.

"As wireless coverage increases and data-share plans become the norm, I expect to see more of a shift to taking the entire office wherever we go," said Steele. "Since I was a little kid, it always seemed silly to me but plausible that radio waves could somehow interfere with navigation equipment. Either way I am glad the ban is over."

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Based on recommendations from experts including aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry, the ban was lifted, allowing passengers to utilize their tablets, laptops, mobile phones and e-book readers below 10,000 feet.

While most airlines will have to wait to prove the safe use of personal devices, Delta will be the first airline with permission to implement the change, according to the FAA.

The previous ban that kept electronic devices powered down during lift-off and landing has never been proven to disturb flight, said Daniel Castro, senior analyst at Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, in an interview.

"There was never really any clear evidence that there were problems, just abundant caution saying you can't use electronics during take-off and landing on commercial flights," Castro told CRN. "Today with the use of consumer electronics, it made sense that the FAA would have to revisit these rules because people don't bring magazines and books on the plane; they are bringing e-book readers and iPads."

The ban was implemented in the early 90s, despite the lack of presented evidence that any electronic device would interfere with the plane's navigation, said Castro.

"We know that from what we've seen -- there is no evidence, and it's important to voice this," said Castro. "It's kind of hard to say every single device [brought] on a plane will never cause any interference. But you can say that every consumer device we tested so far hasn't shown any interference."

NEXT: Ban Long Over Due, Says Solution Provider

George Bardissi, president of Hatfield, Pa.-based Bardissi Enterprises, said he believes the ban's lift has been long overdue.

"I travel pretty regularly, and this has been a pet-peeve of mine for quite some time," said Bardissi. "It was an archaic rule. I tried to put all my devices in standby mode, so that once that ding went off, I could get the most out of my time. That could be anything from work to a movie."

ITIF's Castro, in a 2010 blog post, called for the end of electronic restrictions and the need to create more technology-friendly rules for flights.

"I wrote that when I was on a plane, irritated at having to wait on a runway for an hour," Castro told CRN. "To me, that was a type of rule that was blocking the option of useful technology in the marketplace for no apparent valid reason."

Although three years have passed since Castro's blog entry, there are more problems to come regarding devices and flight safety, said Castro.

"The interesting thing here, [from a] perspective looking forward, is that these types of problems will continue to come up again, and the FAA is a part of a group of government officials focused on one end," said Castro. "The same type of problem where regulation is propagated can have a negative impact on the overall best interest of consumers."

On the other hand, the lift of the ban could possibly affect passengers' attention span during moments in which flight personnel need to give passengers instructions, said Castro.

"The fact that people aren't engaged in electronic devices is useful because there's nothing else to pay attention to besides instruction," said Castro. "Airlines will have to think about how to ensure their staff can effectively communicate to passengers during the event they need to instruct information. "

The push for mobile devices will remain strong, Bardissi said. In fact, Bardissi believes the different devices will start to blend together to improve portability and convenience when traveling.

"No one really wants to hold eight different devices while they travel," said Bardissi. "As convertible devices continue to become cost effective and more sleek, I believe they will be the choice of the [on-the-go] business community."

With the ban's lift, mobile device sales will continue to do well, as they've already been doing, but don't expect to see a sales spike as a result, said Biztex's Steele.

"Until Internet access is universal and included on planes," Steele said, "I don't think there will be a major uptick in our sales for our frequent fliers."