Dale Dietrich
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FCC Rules Logan Airport Can’t Restrict WiFi

Categories: WiFi Access

Text of Decision [.doc]
Logan Airport had told Continental Airlines that it may not provide free WiFi in its Logan Airport President Club frequent-flier lounge. Logan had claimed Continental's WiFi interfered with navigational instruments and was therefore a safety concern. However, when pressed Logan Airport could not provide any evidence that WiFi networks had ever caused harm. Meanwhile Logan sold its own WiFi access service to customers at the airport.

Bottom-line: Logan's restrictions had nothing to do with safety. It wanted to retain the lucrative WiFi revenue stream to itself and its licensees. With this FCC ruling, the FCC reasserted that its "Over-the-air Reception Devices" rules preempt local restrictions.

Dale's Comment: This decision has broader implications than restriction-free WiFi services at airports. For example, if Logan had prevailed, a landlord could have asserted the right to be the exclusive WiFi provider in its building, precluding home owners or businesses, for instance, from setting up their own internal WiFi hotsposts.

Sources: Government Tech | Information Week | Boston Herald | Engadget | Broadcasting and Cable | Boston Globe

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