The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved an application process for airlines to obtain broadband Internet licenses aboard their planes. Previously, airlines were granted permission on an ad hoc basis.
Airlines need the FCC’s permission to tap into satellite airwaves while in flight that enable passengers to access the Internet. They also need permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the safety of inflight Internet systems.
The regulatory hurdles have stalled the implementation of the Internet in the air, some experts say.
Still, some airlines have been reluctant to join the broadband bandwagon for a much more mundane reason: peace.
Not all passengers want to be sandwiched between seatmates who are streaming videos, playing games and, potentially in the future, talking on their cellphones.
“Whether traveling for work or leisure, Americans increasingly expect broadband access everywhere they go,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, adding that the rules will speed the aircraft Internet application process by 50 percent.
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