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FCC Nixes Airport's Ban On Private Net Access 165

Posted by kdawson
from the piggy-piggy dept.
Several readers wrote to let us know about a ruling by the US Federal Communications Commission forbidding Boston's Logan Airport from shutting down airline-supplied Internet access services that compete with the airport's own, for-pay wireless coverage. From the article: "A two-year effort by Logan International Airport officials to shut down private alternatives to the airport's $8-a-day wireless Internet service was decisively rejected yesterday by federal regulators, who blasted airport officials for raising bogus legal and technological arguments."
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FCC Nixes Airport's Ban On Private Net Access

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  • FCC did what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amouth (879122) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @01:53PM (#16691281)
    I can't believe it.. the FCC did the right thing for once.. I... I am out of words.. lets hope this moment of competency continues.

    • by creimer (824291)
      We haven't had the elections yet and already the veil of darkness is leaving the American government. Woo hoo!
    • I, too, am surprised these days when I hear about an government agency doing something that in the public's interest. For the last six years I had become accustomed to learning that another administration agency was overturning years of defending the public's interest in things like roadless areas, endangered species, air quality, consumer protection, and so much more. My faith in our governmental/political system is at an all time low, but it's so good to hear news like this.

      Kudos to the FCC.
    • Wait ... you mean the FCC? The Federal Communications Commission? And not the "Farm Credit Corporation [wikipedia.org]," the "Florida Christian College [wikipedia.org]," or "Families with Children from China [fwcc.org]"?

      Or perhaps this was some sort of rogue action by the "Foreign Correspondents Club [wikipedia.org]" ... that would be more believable.

      Someone call the President, quickly. It's obvious that some form of extraterrestrial brain parasite has taken over portions of our government. If we don't launch a nuclear strike soon, this outbreak of rationality coul
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Well, if they get on a roll, the FCC will stand for "Frakin' Cool Choices"
  • Way to go FCC, actually doing something that benefits the little guy!

    From a legal standpoint though, doesn't the airline own the cables in the airport, and hence could restrict access to high speed connections? Or were the airlines using wireless?
    • by kfg (145172)


      RTFB?

      KFG
      • I agree wholeheartedly.
      • by Salvance (1014001) *
        Haha ... I realize they were offering WiFi, but it isn't clear how the lounges were connected to the carrier. My guess is that they had a standard land lines.

        My question was around the airport's (or even broader, a landlord's) legal ability to control what telecommunications systems a tenant can use. For instance, if you rent a commercial condo, can a landlord say "sorry, you aren't allowed to run broadband connections into your office"? I don't know the answer here. Logically it would seem that a la
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Logically it would seem that a landlord could make similar restrictions if there was ample reason ... anyone know?

          The only way a landlord could stop you is if your modifications would decrease the value of the property, like maybe if you had to drill holes to install it and it was a historical site. However, installing cabling actually increases the value of the property if done properly.

          On the other hand, the only thing the place has to have when you move in is copper for one phone line ending in a

  • Here is a nice lil list I found a while ago of US airports with free wifi, enjoy.

    http://www.wififreespot.com/airport.html [wififreespot.com]
  • Clearly. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Irvu (248207) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @01:59PM (#16691387)
    Clearly the Airport officials were not paying the right people enough lobbying money. I mean the FCC is perfectly willing to accept bogous legal and technical arguments for deregulation of the airwaves. And it has been happy to digest bogous arguments against community wireless. Ditto the bogous arguments for the Broadcast flag. One can only assume that Logan Airport's lobbying budget is too small or has been misspent.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Ever since the airports were forced to take out the pay toilets, they just have not had as much loot in their lobby fund.
      • by Shotgun (30919)
        Ever since the airports were forced to take out the pay toilets, they just have not had as much loot in their lobby fund.

        So use some of the cafeteria fund, then. There's bound to be plenty there. Have you seen the prices they charge for that crap-in-a-box they serve there?
        • Have you seen the prices they charge for that crap-in-a-box they serve there?

          I thought he said they took out the pay-toilets...
      • by Irvu (248207)
        Yeah, back when each flush cost a quarter they were absolutely swimming in it :)
    • "I mean the FCC is perfectly willing to accept bogous legal and technical arguments for deregulation of the airwaves"

      It's the arguments for regulation of the airwaves that are entirely bogus. By relaxing them, the FCC took one little stemp toward doing the right thing.
      • by Irvu (248207)
        To my knowledge the FCC has not deregulated what you can do with the airwaves only how much of the airwaves any particular person can "own" by which they reduced the competition for airwaves and futher permitted the already powerful companies to own more. I cannot consider that to be a step in the right direction.
    • I mean the FCC is perfectly willing to accept bogous legal and technical arguments for deregulation of the airwaves.

      Except when it comes to b008i35!!!
  • FTA:
    "We are disappointed in the ruling," Massport spokeswoman Danny Levy said, "but [are] reviewing it carefully and weighing our options moving forward." Levy had no further comment.
    As someone who has lived in "the cradle of liberty" for quite some time, it wouldn't surprise me if they started jamming.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      that would be fun to watch, IIRC the fine for willfully jamming is $40,000/day
      • How dare you criticize our jamming of Wifi signals. Terrorists may use them to hack into the security systems and share information with Al Queda.

        This has nothing to do with our profits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DamnStupidElf (649844)
      As someone who has lived in "the cradle of liberty" for quite some time, it wouldn't surprise me if they started jamming.

      The airlines can jam just as effectively, but my guess is that the airlines generally have much more pull than any individual airport. As far as I know, the airlines are the customers and rent gates at the airports, so conflict between them will probably just go in favor of the airlines.

      Unfortunately, the airlines will probably just start charging for wireless internet like they char
  • A few years back there was a newspaper article about (my) local airport: St Louis International--and how the pay phones were vanishing. With the arrival of cheap cellphones, the once-numerous pay phones were going mostly unused. Over a period of two years, they had removed almost 95% of the phones, and had plans to keep removing phones, because the revenues they were seeing were not covering the lease costs.

    The airport management said that this wouldn't be a problem except that it was the revenue from th
    • ....So then,,, (looking around),,, what else can they charge travelers for?....

      I don't know... maybe, traveling? I know a lot of people complain about airline fares but if it seriously costs them that much to run an airport then thats how much they should charge. distribute the costs among the airlines, and other businesses that reside in the airport.

      Logan is particularly poorly run, I'm sure they could find lots of ways to reduce their costs without lowering the level of their service. On a whole thoug

    • But look at what they saved over that period by getting rid of indoor ashtrays, elevator and washroom attendants, and any semblence of customer service.

      Anyway, Continental provides Wi-Fi to their Presidents Club lounge, not the cattle-car tourists sitting in the regular terminal. This is not going to affect Logan's bottom line that much.
      • by Hadlock (143607)
        Nice troll! I'll bite. I'm glad ashtrays are long gone from the social consiousness. Screw you, smokers, the rest of us don't want to watch you guys take a hit of niccotine just to keep from going crazy. Suck it up and deal with the fact that society is finally cracking down on unproductive drug addicts.
        • by Detritus (11846)
          When the zombies rise from the dead, and start looking for delicious brains, I'll be sure to let them know where you're hiding.
      • by krell (896769)
        "But look at what they saved over that period by getting rid of indoor ashtrays"

        Why on earth would anyone need to set fires inside the airport???
    • Charging for 802.x was assumed to be the next internal maintenance income stream--but now, we see that it is not so.

      Maybe not. But airlines probably won't keep offering free wireless forever, either.

      As for your suggestion of charging $5 for the restroom -- pay toilets went out with 80s. Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and sometimes even local ordinances often prevent a public venue like an airport from charging to use the restroom.

      There's no easy solution to the problem. Some airports charg

    • Hey, don't give them any ideas. Charging for restrooms is pretty common in Europe, especially in Bus stations, even in bars and clubs.
    • Coffee? I for one welcome overpriced Starbucks, with an extra "Airport Maintenance Fee"!
    • Another poster touched on it, but what they need to do is put a few banks of power outlets in the waiting area of every terminal, then charge $0.25 to activate an outlet for two hours.

      I do appreciate free power outlets (when I can find them), but guaranteed access to an outlet (i.e. there will be one at all, and there will be enough of them so that the only one isn't next to a seat with a bunch of wild kids) is worth paying for.
    • by Pinback (80041)
      With all the security in place these days, only paying customers are going to be at the gates. If the fucking airports can't figure out how to pay their staff out of the 300-600$ per person per flight, that is not my problem.

      After putting out that kind of money, I'm not going to pay 8$ to use wireless either.
  • by yali (209015) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:30PM (#16691955)
    ...blasted airport officials for raising bogus legal and technological arguments.

    Haven't these guys learned anything since 9/11? If they'd only raised bogus security arguments, they would've sailed through. Heck, the feds probably would've authorized them to shoot anybody with a BlackBerry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey (83763)
      Sadly, using bogus security arguments everywhere is the only thing we have "learned" from 9/11.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalidasa (577403)
      They did use bogus security arguments, and yet, amazingly, the FCC saw through them. I don't know about you folks, but I'm expecting the apocalypse any moment now ...
  • ... to hear that businesses are espousing "bogus legal and technological arguments" in an effort to stifle competition, and increase profits!

    What is the world coming to?!
  • I don't know the full story but this reminds me of looking for WiFi in the Geneva airport. There were a couple of premium pay-to-connect WiFi networks as well as an open wireless network named "hidden." I assume that just like in Boston, the pay WiFi folks were none too pleased with a free alternative, so they asked the owner of the open one to make it hidden, and thus there is an open wireless broadcasting its ID -- "hidden." Not only did it work fine, it gave me a nice smile!
    • by monkeydo (173558)
      And hopefully it wasn't the guy sitting next to you running fakeap on his laptop and stealing all of your passwords!
  • They should offer it free themselves. Add a captive web page for login and offer quick links to reserve a car, get a taxi, maybe order food at a restaurant for pick up. Charge for the quick links and make your money that way.

    What I don't get is when do people have time to use WiFi at an airport?
    Most of the time when I have been in airports I was running from plane to plane, grabbing something to eat, and maybe calling my office quickly.
    It is pretty rare when I have had more than a hour lay over on a flight
    • "It is pretty rare when I have had more than a hour lay"

      Joined the mile high club, eh?
    • What I don't get is when do people have time to use WiFi at an airport?
      Most of the time when I have been in airports I was running from plane to plane, grabbing something to eat, and maybe calling my office quickly.
      It is pretty rare when I have had more than a hour lay over on a flight.


      The official statistics are that airlines have about a 75% on-time arrival record. Even if not all of those flights departed late, my experience has been that 20% of flights don't even start boarding until a half-hour or mor
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        One of the longest layovers I ever had was at O'Hare. It was like 6 hours in the middle of the night! Nothing was open and it was kind of creepy. I really don't miss those days.
    • by ncc74656 (45571) *

      What I don't get is when do people have time to use WiFi at an airport?

      If you're flying Southwest, you want to get there early enough that you're first in line to board the plane. If you do that, you're practically guaranteed an exit-row seat (extra legroom is good). That'll give you maybe an hour to kill, once you're past the security checkpoint and waiting to board.

      That said, if I'm just reading mail, it's easier to bring it up on my phone (with its wireless data connection) than to break out the

    • by mttlg (174815)

      What I don't get is when do people have time to use WiFi at an airport?

      When they fly from Logan [mttlg.net].

    • by treeves (963993)
      As people refer to PDX below I will add, when I get home (to PDX) I will stay in the airport for awhile, have something to eat, use the free Wi-Fi.

      I like PDX better than any other airport I've been to, and I'm glad it's always my final destination.

      PHX (similar abbreviation, hmmm, a coincidence/) also has free Wi-Fi.

      I saw a website that summarizes Wi-Fi availability in airports throughout the US. I don't feel like googling it now, that's OK, you can.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        My favorite airport for stuff has got to be Gatwick but didn't go to the UK that much in my job.
        PBI is my favorite US Airport because it is so small. I can get in and out with very little trouble. It is also my home airport. I can be home in an hour after I land if I don't have checked luggage.

  • Massport's argument that free wireless internet could impede emergency communications and the like, if true, would also preclude their pay wireless Internet, or did they have some bullshit argument on that one too? If the FCC wanted to be a real bunch of assholes they should have come back and said, "Oh, you're right. WIFI services could interfere with airport communications. Better shut all those services down, including your $8 a day wireless. Better safe than sorry, right?"

    Massport's blatant cash grab is
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Massport's argument that free wireless internet could impede emergency communications and the like, if true, would also preclude their pay wireless Internet, or did they have some bullshit argument on that one too?

      Nope, it would affect theirs. However, there is a master switch to disable the entire network. Well, at least there was in the one airport I worked on the wireless for. Less than 10 seconds to disable all wireless devices, if need be. But thanks for guessing wrong, that's what makes the Inte
      • How can Massport claim that Wifi networks interfere with communications if they themselves operate a Wifi network? That's the baseline argument. I don't care if they can turn it off in a second, it either interferes with communication or it doesn't. If it does then why install it in the first place? It's a bullshit argument and the FCC called them on it. End of story and no guessing involved.
  • Okay, FCC. You got this one right. Now how about municipal broadband networks to compete with the telecoms and cablecos, especially in underserved areas?

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