The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has cleared the way for wider
adoption of in-flight Internet services, aiming to cut by as much as 50
percent the time needed for regulatory approval.
Newly adopted rules
should boost competition in this part of the U.S. mobile
telecommunications market and promote "the widespread availability of
Internet access to aircraft passengers," the FCC said in a statement
Since 2001, the commission has cleared companies on an ad
hoc basis to market in-flight broadband services via a satellite antenna
fixed to an aircraft's exterior.
Under a newly adopted framework, the licensing procedures will be simpler, the commission said.
will be able to test systems that meet the commission's standards,
establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems and then get
approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, the FCC statement said.
FAA, a Labor Department arm responsible for operating the nation's air
traffic control system, said in response that the FCC's effort to
establish standards "will help to streamline the process" for airlines
to install Internet hookups on planes.
The goal is to speed the
processing of applications by up to 50 percent, FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski said in a separate statement.
The FCC drive to promote
broadband aboard planes does not change a ban on the in-flight use of
cell phones, which is tied to concerns about interference with ground
Genachowski earlier this month urged the Federal Aviation Administration to allow more electronics on aircraft.
FAA announced in August that it was forming a government-industry group
to study aircraft operators' policies to determine when portable
electronic devices may be used safely during flight.
© Thomson Reuters 2012