Legal Issues

by Carlo Longino

Boston Airport WiFi Spat Now A "Security" Issue

from the big-for-their-britches dept

Massport, which runs Boston's Logan Airport, has for some time been trying to force airlines to use its paid-access WiFi network in the airport instead of operating their own. This clearly usurps the authority of the FCC to regulate unlicensed spectrum -- authority the FCC has made clear belongs to it alone. Now, Massport is attempting to paint the issue as one of security, which American Airlines says masks the real reason the airport wants everyone to use its network -- money. Massport says that every airline running its own network "could jam radio frequencies used by the State Police and Transportation Security Administration", since apparently the TSA is testing using the airport network. Glenn Fleishman rightly wonders why critical emergency or security communications would use an unlicensed band, rather than dedicated public safety spectrum. Massport's security argument is bunk, and American's lawyer says that throughout talks about WiFi stretching back to last May, the airport's concerns were strictly commercial in nature. The bottom line is, whatever Massport believes, its authority doesn't supercede that of the FCC.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Tony Whelan, Oct 10th, 2005 @ 3:44pm

    Boston Airport WiFi Spat Now A "Security" Issue

    A thinly veiled attempt at a monopolised closed WiFi market, I agree with Glenn. As one will discover when this is thrown out, the FCC took a first step by deciding to allocate to public safety about 50 Megahertz of spectrum in the 4.9 Gigahertz range.
    This is less than the 100 or 200 Megahertz originally anticipated for these needs. It excludes communications to police surveillance helicopters.
    There is also potential interference from powerful Navy radio equipment, especially in the more populated coastal areas of the country. Nevertheless, this is a good first step forward.

    Tony Whelan
    CEO - IP Everywhere Inc

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Boston Airport WiFi Spat Now A

    The FCC has made recents statements indicating that it intends to give priority to law enforcement's desires over all else. So Massport might just get what it wants. Now expect to see other agencies playing the "law enforcement" card in the future to get what they want out of the FCC.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Paul Osborn, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 6:05pm


    At the Admirals Club in Boston T-Mobile had to resort to Ethernet to by-pass Massport. This is silly - Boston is the only airport I fly to (Platinum on AA) in the US where I can't use wireless at the Admirals Club. I'll never use Massport's pay-for system at Logan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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