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FCC to Logan: You're Grounded

4:30 PM -- Reuters is reporting that the FCC will rule against Boston’s Logan Airport in its shameless land (air?) grab to shut down Continental Airlines’ free WiFi service. To cut to the chase, this article states that Logan’s arguments about Continental’s service interfering with other airport services will remain where they should be, stuck at the gate, on (hopefully permanent) ground hold.

I and others have argued that Logan’s action was absurd, little more than an attempt to put its own WiFi service in place as a monopoly. Now, as a frequent user of Logan Airport, I’ll be the first to admit that the place clearly needs the revenue that the high prices of a monopoly might bring. Despite a vast amount of money spent on “improvements” in recent years, the airport is still crowded, cramped, and decidedly user-unfriendly. The tiny bathrooms were clearly designed by architects who had never heard of luggage, and the parking-lot attendants delight in re-directing drivers to satellite lots in another time zone. Flight delays are more than common.

But I’m fundamentally against monopolies even when they might generate revenue for such worthwhile goals as fixing all of this (yeah, right, like they would). For the record, I’m not paying the airport 8, 10, 12 bucks, whatever, to check my email. That’s a rip-off for a few minutes of access between flights. And regardless I’m not going to fork over even more cash to fascists who attempt strong-arm tactics to counter a service that actually benefits the public, which is who I thought the airport was built to serve in the first place. What we have here is a small victory for the little guy, and a wake-up call to anyone else who attempts to usurp the spirit of the unlicensed bands. Now, if you don’t mind, Logan Airport, work a little harder to get my flight off on time, and leave the WiFi to someone else.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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