The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the use of Wi-Fi wireless networking in airplanes, according to ABC News.
However, the details of how this is going to work have yet to be determined, which will delay the rollout of this service for a couple of years.
Some want there to be just one company handling this service, arguing that there won’t be enough business to support two competitors. Other want competition to prevent price gouging.
With all the economic and technical details still to be worked out, Wi-Fi isn’t expected to be available on planes until 2006.
This is almost certain to be a pay service, and will act as another revenue source for the airlines, which have been struggling with large financial losses lately.
While the FCC is likely thinking this decision will help laptop users, an increasing number of handhelds have built-in Wi-Fi.
Cell Phone Service, too
The FCC is also looking into allowing passengers to use their mobile phones on planes. However, for various reasons, this won’t happen for quite some time.
The FCC is asking for public comment on whether people want this service, wondering how people would feel about being on a plane while surrounded by people having mobile phone conversations.
In addition, there’s the problem that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also bans mobile phone use on planes. The FAA has commissioned a study to find out if the radio broadcasts from mobile phones interfere with the electronics on a plane, the results of which aren’t expected until 2006.