Relaxation for In-Flight Wi-Fi rules from FCC

The Federal Communications Commission is moving to ease restrictions on Internet use in commercial airlines as the agency attempts to enhance competition in the mobile telecommunications market and help speed the deployment of Internet services onboard aircraft. Airlines will be able to test systems that meet FCC standards, establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems and receive FAA approval.

Rather than having to license on-board systems that provide in-flight wifi on an ad hoc basis, airlines will be able to test systems that meet FCC standards, establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems and get FAA approval. An FCC statement explained “By reducing administrative burdens on both applicants and the Commission, the new rules should allow the Commission to process ESAA applications up to 50 percent faster, enhancing competition in an important sector of the mobile telecommunications market in the United States and promoting the widespread availability of Internet access to aircraft passengers.

While the FCC is working to speed up deployment of aircraft Wi-Fi systems in airplanes, an airplane manufacturer is also testing on improvements on wireless signals in airplane cabins, making it possible for passengers to enjoy more reliable connectivity when using networked personal electronic devices in the air.

The satellite antenna will carry the signal to and from the aircraft, and mobile technologies such as Wi-Fi will provide communications within the aircraft’s hull. In addition to promoting the economic growth and job-creating impacts of inflight broadband, the action also continues the FCC’s efforts to update and streamline regulatory requirements across the agency.

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