More than two billion portable electronic devices will be sold this year, according to the research firm Gartner. Air travelers own a disproportionately large share of these devices, particularly smartphones and tablets, whose use is growing at the fastest rate. Shipments are expected to more than double by next year compared with 2012, to 276 million units. – By JAD MOUAWAD and NICK BILTON Published: September 22, 2013


photo by Marty Katz for The New York Times
New F.A.A. rules are expected to allow devices to be on at all times, but with communications off.

F.A.A. Nears New Rules on Devices

The rules on when to turn off electronic devices on airplanes have long been a sour, and sometimes contentious, point for travelers. But faced with a surge of electronics on airplanes and under pressure from a growing number of tech-savvy — and increasingly tech-dependent — passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized that change was inevitable.

This week, an F.A.A. advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on making phone calls, as well as sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi, is expected to remain in place, the panel members said.

The panel will recommend its new policy to the F.A.A. by the end of the month and it will most likely go into effect next year.

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