updated 05:35 pm EST, Fri December 28, 2012
Previous approval on 'ad-hoc' basis, new rules apply standards
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is loosening up restrictions for in-flight Internet technology. Under the newly-adopted framework, the new clearance rules are intended to boost competition and promote "the widespread availability of Internet access to aircraft passengers" according to the agency. The FAA has previously said that the FCC's establishment of universal standards will "help to streamline the process" for more ubiquitous internet access on airplanes.
Airlines will be able to perform independent testing that meet pre-established FCC standards, and confirm that they do not interfere with aircraft systems. Approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would still be required following testing.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said that the goal of the new standards on approval should speed the processing of applications by up to 50 percent. The new standards to drive in-flight broadband will have no effect on the standing ban on the use of cellphones while in the air, citing interference with ground-to-air communication systems and navigation equipment.