FCC Rebukes Logan, Says Continental Can Offer WiFi

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 systems.

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."

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