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Will Cellphones on Planes Be the End of in-Flight Wi-Fi? 

As the FCC considers lifting the ban on using cellphones during flights, providers of in-flight Wi-Fi might have a slightly harder time charging passengers to use the internet on board.

Companies such as Gogo provide internet on board commercial and private flights, but there’s a costly fee for the privilege of staying connected at 30,000 feet. The fact that the FCC is considering allowing full cellphone use onboard flights could mean that passengers may be able to find alternate ways of connecting to the internet through their own carriers or mobile hotspots.

If the FCC lifts the ban, as it has been proposed, passengers would be allowed to use their phones for voice calls, text messaging and internet services as soon as the plane climbs to a height of 10,000 feet. The proposal has met with rather unhappy responses from many travelers, more as a social issue of loud passengers using their cellphones non-stop with disregard for those around them.

Of course, using the internet during a flight isn’t as simple as it sounds; in fact connecting would probably be quite difficult. The cellular towers needed to connect to a network and use the internet were never designed to transmit their signals 30,000 feet straight up, so getting a signal might be patchy at best. The most likely solution would be for planes to begin carrying cellular signal boosters called femtocells which might allow customers to connect to ground cellular networks. All things considered, it may still end up being simpler to just get your internet fix through an in-flight Wi-Fi provider.

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