For now, airlines have to go through a lengthy hassle in order to get in-flight Internet access established. The airline has to get the FCC's go-ahead to utilize the satellite-delivered airwaves that bring wifi to aircraft, as well as approval from the FAA. To decrease the red tape and streamline the process, the FCC has approved an application process that will let airlines more easily get licensing.
According to some critics of the current process, the hassle involved in obtaining licensing for in-flight wireless Internet is the reason why it is not more widely available. According to the FCC's Chairman Julius Genachowski, once the application process is in place, the amount of time it takes for an airline to get in-flight Internet approval will be cut in half.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires in-flight wireless Internet to be thoroughly tested for possible navigation/piloting interference. Says the Washington Post, while the FAA acknowledged that the FCC's application process will indeed speed up the time it takes to get an in-flight wifi system in place on planes, it did not specify anything pertaining to its own involvement and requirements.
This comes at a time when the FAA has been reviewing its regulations about the use of certain devices that do not interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft, such as ereaders. Internet and gadgets are becoming a staple of society, and as such, both airlines and government agencies are being forced to adjust to keep pace. Says the FCC, "Whether traveling for work or leisure, Americans increasingly expect broadband access everywhere they go."
[via Washington Post]