FCC Tells Massport For Once And For All, Keep Your Paws Off Our Unlicensed Spectrum

from the it's-ours-we-tell-you-ours dept

More than a year ago, Massport, which operates Boston’s Logan Airport, told Continental Airlines that it had to shut off its free WiFi service, because Massport had signed a deal with a commercial WiFi provider guaranteeing it exclusivity in the facility. This was despite the FCC being crystal clear that it, and it alone has the right to regulate unlicensed spectrum, and that landlords can’t stop tenants from using devices and services that operate within it. Massport then made the ridiculous claim that Continental’s WiFi was a security threat, which the FCC didn’t buy either. Now, the Commission has delivered its ruling stating that Massport has no right to make tenants shut off their WiFi. As Glenn Fleishman points out, the FCC really smacked down Massport, comprehensively destroying its argument and definitively reiterating that only it can regulate unlicensed spectrum, and that landlords have absolutely no right to restrict how their tenants use it.

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Comments on “FCC Tells Massport For Once And For All, Keep Your Paws Off Our Unlicensed Spectrum”

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Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Two Cheers For Continental

as I wrote at Glenn’s site:

I may have taken a different point from this story, but my big take-away is shock: Shock that Continental is giving away WiFi in the Presidents Lounge, while my main airline, Untied, charges about $500 for membership, and also charges for WiFi access through T-Mobile. Plus there is the hassle of signing on with a credit card or account, which is a barrier to access. The result is I use a slower cellular modem to save a few bucks.

Come on United! Get with the program, WiFi should be a utility in your Red Carpet Clubs, as it is in Continental’s. Get rid of T-Mobile and put a $50 AP on a DSL line, and satisfy your high-end customers.

So, two hoorays for Continental, for beating Massport, and for offering free WiFi in the first place.

discojohnson says:

maybe they do..

massport might be able to tell continental airlines they can turn it off, as long as it’s in their lease…or at least there’s a line item that can be interpreted as such. although…i guess they didn’t have anything that makes tennants do whatever they say in the lease or massport would have tried that already. i say “sucks to be massport” and good on the FCC for doing right.

Xris says:

Re: maybe they do..

Actually, it looks like it’s not allowed to be a clause in a lease. The article quotes the ruling (emphasis added):

Restrictions prohibited by the OTARD [over-the-air reception devices] rules include lease provisions (as is the situation here), as well as restrictions imposed by state or local laws or regulations, private covenants, contract provisions, or homeowner’s association rules.

Geren (user link) says:


The FCC tends to get very upset when other entities muck with radio signals of any kind, especially when it impedes public access to receive signals (except for those assigned to the military).

For those interested, the FCC forbids pretty much any rule that restricts access to over-the-air transmission. That also inlcudes HOAs that try to disallow TV antennae and sat dishes.

tek'a says:

i dont think so. the camera phone ban in movie theaters (if you can find a place that actually has one, theaters put up signs that lie 90% of the time) are a ban on a Camera device.

police ignore those laws anyhow, at least when they are on the phone. its mostly just local/state gov wanting to be able to talk about how they are helping safety(and get reelected)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

i dont think so. the camera phone ban in movie theaters (if you can find a place that actually has one, theaters put up signs that lie 90% of the time) are a ban on a Camera device.

By your logic then, Massport could just prohibit some common electrical component, let’s say resistors, unless they granted the device an exemption. Then they could just not grant exemptions to the resistors in Continental’s WiFi devices.

But I’m guessing the FCC would not allow Massport to prohibit components that were part of an FCC approved device. By the same token, the camera in a camera phone is a component of an FCC approved radio device. So are movie theaters beyond the authority of the FCC?

As another example, I went to a golf tournament the other day where no one was being allowed in with a cell phone at all. Camera or not. I wonder what the FCC’s position is on this?

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