Continental Keeps Its Free Service At Logan
Wireless internet access
is spreading... and not even the Massachusetts Port Authority can
stop it. That's the word from the Federal Communications
Commission, who on Wednesday ruled Massport can't block a Wi-Fi
access point in the Continental Airlines lounge at Logan
In its decision, the FCC concluded a 10-year-old set of rules
governing over-the-air reception devices (OTARD) allows Continental
to provide the free service to its customers -- meaning they don't
have to pay $7.95 per day to use the airport's Wi-Fi network.
The decision "clarifies that American consumers and businesses
are free to install Wi-Fi antennas under our OTARD rules -- meaning
without seeking approval from their landlords -- just as they are
free to install antennas for video programming and other fixed
wireless applications," Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps said
in a statement accompanying the FCC's brief, according to CNET
The move is being heralded as a victory for Wi-Fi providers
everywhere, not just airports, as it sets a precedent for other
Continental filed a petition with the FCC last July, after
Massport told the airline to remove the Wi-Fi system it installed
in its "President's Club" lounge a year before. Airport officials
said the system violated the terms of Continental's lease.
Officials also said the system could interfere with state police
and TSA equipment.
That's bunk, said the FCC, which found Continental's antenna met
necessary conditions for safe operation. And it's more likely the
TSA's equipment will interfere with the signal, than the other way
around... as the standards for protection against interference on
the unlicensed spectrum, where Wi-Fi operates, aren't as strict as
those frequencies licensed for public safety use.
The FCC also chided
Massport for its argument that Continental's free service takes
money away from the airport -- as the FCC says the airport
shouldn't expect to make money off unlicensed devices. The
government also has a vested interest in promoting broadband
"We're disappointed in the ruling," said Massport spokeswoman
Danny Levy. "We're reviewing it carefully and weighing our options
moving forward," adding the port authority may opt to take further
Continental, meanwhile, applauded the decision as "a resounding
victory to the airline and for consumers."