FCC considers using satellite airwaves to provide Internet on commercial aircraft

May 9, 2013
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FCC considers using satellite airwaves to provide Internet on commercial aircraft

Most major airlines around the world have been offering Internet service on flights for a number of years. Selling Internet access to passengers on aircraft has proven to be a nice additional stream of revenue for cash strapped airlines. Typically, providing Internet service on aircraft requires an antenna on the ground.

The FCC is now reportedly looking at an alternative for providing Internet service on aircraft. What the FCC is considering is the repurposed of some satellite airwaves in a proposal that is expected to move forward today. QUALCOMM is trying to get the FCC to free up some the airwaves currently used by the satellite industry.

This plan is still in the very early stages and while the FCC is set to vote today, that vote will only be to open the possibility up to public comment. Any actual implementation would likely be years away. QUALCOMM has reportedly been trying to get the FCC to make this move since 2011.

Internet speeds provided by the satellite service is expected to rival that of the speed provided by current ground-based solutions. QUALCOMM has a vested interest in pushing the FCC to approve this plan because it is the main equipment maker for airborne Wi-Fi networks and other companies are expected to bid on the new satellite airwaves and purchase the required hardware from QUALCOMM. Pushback the satellite industry is expected to be strong as many companies in the satellite industry hope to provide hardware and services for airborne Internet themselves.

[via Wall Street Journal]


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