FCC Launches Framework for In-Flight Broadband

Airlines Will Now Be Able to Test Systems According to FCC Standards and If They Pass Muster Get FAA Approval

The FCC has established standards for onboard airplane Internet service.

The Report and Order regularizes what had been an ad hoc process, where the FCC had given various companies permission to mount satellite antennas on the outside of planes and operate them as Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) for two-way, in-flight and on the runway broadband.

The commissioners voted to make ESAA a licensed application for fixed satellite service (in this case fixed to planes relaying the signals to satellites in a fixed geostationary orbit, but definitely broadband on the move).

Airlines will now be able to test systems according to FCC standards and, if they pass muster -- as in don't interfere with aircraft systems -- get FAA approval.

The FCC says the move should make the application process 50% faster and promote the widespread availability to aircraft passengers, one of a number of underserved populations the FCC is trying to get on the broadband-wagon. "Whether traveling for work or leisure, Americans increasingly expect broadband access everywhere they go," Genachowski said in a statement.