FCC Order to Increase Availability of Airline In-Flight Internet Access

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-12-29 Print this article Print

Likewise, you won't likely see a lot of movie streaming. The low available speeds and the unreliable connection would tend to make watching movies a less than optimal situation. Remember, you're sharing that one satellite link with all the other passengers on the plane.

The airlines, sensing another way they can extract money from you in these days of fees for everything, are all over the idea. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski also thinks it's a good idea. "Whether traveling for work or leisure, Americans increasingly expect broadband access everywhere they go," Genachowski said in a prepared statement.

"These new rules will help airlines and broadband providers offer high-speed Internet to passengers, including 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."

According to the official FCC statement on this report and order, the commission expects this action to significantly reduce the administrative burden on both the applicants and the commission. Effectively, this will save both time and money and should encourage greater adoption of in-flight Internet access.

It's worth noting that this does not implement cell phone service on airplanes, something that the FCC is considering but hasn't yet approved. The implementation of WiFi on flights hasn't had any significant opposition, in contrast to the complaints about possible cell service—mostly because there are a lot of passengers who don't want to listen to phone conversations while they're trying to sleep.

In reality, there are some things that having Internet access on board may help. For example, you can let whoever is meeting you know about changes in arrival time, or you can arrange for that rental car that you forgot about before you left home.

However, the FCC is just one hurdle. The Federal Aviation Administration must also approve any such on-board Internet use as well as on-board WiFi. Currently the FAA, which has to focus on flight-safety issues, is still approving Internet access on airliners on a case-by-case basis. But clearly, as long as the Internet access that an airline is planning to install is in line with existing installations, the FAA is approving them.

But all things considered, I still think I'd rather look at the world from Flight Level 380 than look at email, regardless of how urgent it might be.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel