FCC Streamlines In-Flight Internet Approval Process
December 31, 2012

In-Flight Internet Approval Process To Be Streamlined

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Airlines should soon have an easier time securing regulatory approval for in-flight Internet services, as the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules Friday to cut some of the red tape involved in the process.

According to Jim Wolf of Reuters, the new rules governing in-air broadband technology could cut the wait time associated with the Wi-Fi licensing process by "as much as 50 percent." Likewise, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the news organization that the FCC changes "will help to streamline the process" of installing wireless broadband Internet on airplanes.

Previously, airlines had to use a satellite antenna attached to the exterior of the aircraft and obtain FCC permission on a case-by-case basis, Mashable's Alex Fitzpatrick explained on Saturday. Now, however, they will be able to test systems to make sure that they conform to the federal body's standards and do not interfere with the plane's equipment before seeking approval.

"By reducing administrative burdens on both applicants and the Commission, the new rules should allow the Commission to process ESAA [Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft] 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," the FCC said in a statement.

Slashgear's Brittany Hillen reports that the revised rules come as the Administration is in the midst of reviewing regulations regarding the in-flight usage of some electronic devices, such as e-readers, which have been found to have no adverse effect on an airliner's mechanical systems.

The FCC tout's the public's desire to have near-constant access to wireless Internet as part of their decision to revise their rules, but not everyone seems to be welcoming the idea of having in-flight Internet access.

"Aircraft are one of the few unconnected sanctuaries left in our lives," Fitzpatrick said. "Unless you shell out the cash for an often-unspectacular bit of airborne bandwidth, a flight typically promises at least a few hours' worth of uninterrupted time to read a great novel, take in a fine film or just sit in deep, relaxing thought“¦ The notion of the airborne oasis, though, may be coming to an end."

"Long one of the last places where much work couldn´t be done if you are an Internet worker, airplanes are quickly entering the realm of being just another workspace," added Alex Wilhelm of The Next Web. "Gone soon will be the time with your book and cocktail. It´ll be heads down trying to remove all the Div tags and update the calendar. Radio silence has a beauty all its own. That era is over."