January 2, 2006

Logan’s WiFi Fight Continues [11:39 am]

Sides chosen in Logan WiFi battle [pdf]

Logan International Airport officials’ ongoing quest to ban airline lounges from offering passengers free WiFi Internet services is angering a growing array of powerful Capitol Hill lobbying groups, who say Logan could set a dangerous nationwide precedent for squelching wireless services.

[...] Soon after activating its own $8-a-day WiFi service in the summer of 2004, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan, ordered Continental and American Airlines to shut down WiFi services in their Logan lounges. Massport also ordered Delta Air Lines Inc. not to turn on a planned WiFi service in its new $500 million Terminal A that opened last March.

[...] Massport has consistently argued its policy is only trying to prevent a proliferation of private WiFi transmitters that could interfere with wireless networks used by airlines, State Police, and the Transportation Security Administration. WiFi service providers are free to negotiate so-called roaming deals, Massport officials say, that would let their subscribers who pay for monthly access use the Logan network. But major providers including T-Mobile USA have balked at Massport’s proposed terms, saying the airport authority seeks excessive profits.

”What Massport is trying to do is create a monopoly on unlicensed spectrum in the airport, and we think it’s blatantly contrary to federal law,” said Joe Farren, a spokesman for CTIA, which represents wireless carriers including Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint Nextel. CTIA recently disclosed that it has begun informally lobbying the FCC to overturn the Massport WiFi ban, and is preparing to step into the FCC case officially this week, Farren said.

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