FCC Pushes Onboard Internet Services

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The FCC Friday issued a statement that it has "adopted a Report and Order establishing rules to help speed deployment of Internet services onboard aircraft," to meet with consumer demands and promote economic growth. The action formalizes a license application process for broadband systems and creates standards to establish that they do not interfere with other equipment. The FCC hopes this will help more companies create more in-flight broadband services and products. According to the FCC, the new rules should process approvals for broadband systems "up to 50 percent faster." Under the plan, airlines will be able to test and implement internet systems through a streamlined process with the FCC and FAA.

Formally, the action sets parameters for carriers to operate Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) that communicate with Fixed-Satellite Service locations providing two-way in-flight WiFi services to crew and passengers. The FCC has set the ESAA as a licensed application and established regulations to process the application and ensure that interference does not impact other radio services. The FCC has been pushing the FAA to relax restrictions on the use of electric devices while aircraft are in flight. It shares responsibility for regulation of in-flight communication with the FAA. Find the FCC's news release online, here.