The Federal Communications Commission on Friday announced rules changes that will make it easier for airlines to install in-air broadband technology on their aircraft.
Since 2001, airlines have gotten approval for in-flight broadband technology on a per-case basis. The changes announced today will standardize the approval process for that technology, which the FCC argues will make the approval process 50% faster.
“Airlines will be able test systems that meet FCC standards, establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems, and get FAA approval,” reads an FCC release about the changes.
The FCC also said the changes will promote “the widespread availability of Internet access to aircraft passengers.” Translation: Your few hours of serene, disconnected calm aloft in the clouds are about to come to an end.
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How does the technology work? Airlines install so-called “Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft,” which is essentially FCC-speak for “satellite antenna,” on the exterior of their aircraft. The dish then bounces signals back and forth between satellites in Earth orbit, providing passengers and crew with a broadband Internet connection.