FCC Approves New In-Flight WiFi Hardware

Dennis Faas's picture

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a new report allowing the use of improved satellite antennas on commercial aircraft. The new hardware will significantly improve in-flight wireless Internet (WiFi) service on many US airline flights.

Right now, few US airlines have outfitted their planes with hardware capable of offering their passengers fast and reliable wireless Internet service. For many passengers, the result is significantly reduced productivity during the time they spend in the air.

FCC: Americans Want Better In-Flight WiFi

Apparently, that's about to change. A recent FCC 'Report and Order' will streamline the process of updating airliners' satellite antenna hardware so that it's more capable of bringing all passengers stable, high speed WiFi service.

According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, this Report and Order is designed to help airlines meet the digital data needs of its passengers, who are busier and more tech-savvy than in the past.

"Whether traveling for work or leisure, Americans increasingly expect broadband access everywhere they go," Genachowski said. (Source: eweek.com)

"These new rules will help airlines and broadband providers offer high-speed Internet to passengers ... by accelerating by up to 50 percent the processing of applications to provide broadband on planes. This will enable providers to bring broadband to planes more efficiently, helping passengers connect with friends, family, or the office."

FAA Must Still Approve Idea

The FCC is not the sole authority in this area, however, and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) must still approve the idea of expanding in-flight WiFi service.

Should the FAA determine that expanded in-flight WiFi service poses a threat to passengers, it could still nix the FCC's Report and Order. Based on past performance, most experts believe the idea will receive the FAA's approval. (Source: hothardware.com)

If that happens, reliable, in-flight WiFi should become a reality within the next year or two. As good as that could be, neither the FCC nor the FAA have given approval for cell phone service on commercial airliners.

According to some observers, opposition to the technology is based primarily on so many passengers disliking the idea of listening to others' personal phone conversations while trapped for hours in a metal tube miles up in the air.

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