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Article posted: 12/29/2012 7:00 AM

FCC eases U.S. licensing rules for Internet access on airliners

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission today moved to ease licensing requirements for in-flight Internet services.

"These new rules will help airlines and broadband providers offer high-speed Internet to passengers," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has pushed the Federal Aviation Administration to relax its restrictions on in-flight use of electronic devices including Apple Inc.'s iPad, said in an e- mailed statement.

The FCC, which shares regulation of in-flight communications with the FAA, has since 2001 authorized companies to offer Internet service on a case-by-case basis, the agency said in a news release.

The new rules set up a way to establish that systems meet standards for not interfering with aircraft controls, a step toward getting FAA approval, the FCC said.

The agency in an order set rules for satellites to communicate with mobile devices used by aircraft passengers and crews. In such systems, an antenna on the airplane communicates with satellites, and mobile technologies such as Wi-Fi spread signals within the aircraft's hull, the FCC said.

The new rules will allow "faster, more efficient" licensing of the technologies, the agency said.

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