The Federal Communications Commission adopted a Report and Order today that updated regulatory requirements needed to provide broadband services on aircraft. In short, the commission has designated Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft — the broadband modules placed on the exterior of aircraft — as a licensed application and established a set regulatory process for future providers. What this means is that airlines will be able to select FCC-approved systems, verify that systems don’t interfere with aircraft instruments, and obtain FAA approval in about half the time it takes now. The new FCC guidelines should make it easier for smaller airlines to install WiFi on their jets, allowing them to catch up to legacy carriers with nearly fleetwide internet access. This news might also be a mixed blessing for frequent flyers, some of whom see flying as the last bastion of peace in an otherwise connected world.
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