By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff | November 2, 2006
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. The Federal Communications Commission unanimously sided
with Continental Airlines Inc. in a challenge Continental brought. The
FCC ruled the airline has a clear right to offer WiFi access in its
Terminal C lounge, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs
Logan, had no authority to order Continental to shut it off.
Massport activated its own WiFi service in 2004.
"Today we strike a victory for the WiFi revolution in the cradle of
the American Revolution," FCC commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein said
in a prepared statement. Evoking more Revolutionary War symbols, he
added: "The WiFi movement embodies the spirit of American freedom, and
in our action we say 'Don't tread on me.' "
The FCC rejected Massport's claims that letting airlines provide WiFi
service in their lounges could jam airline and public-safety radio
Commissioner Michael J. Copps , in a separate statement, said: "The
record is clear -- in fact, uncontested -- that allowing multiple WiFi
operators in the airport will cause no interference to the
safety-of-life communications that the airport authority conducts on
its dedicated, separate, and licensed public safety channels."