January 10, 2006

Boston's Logan Airport stepping on wireless rights

Airport Seeks Ban on Free Airline Wi-Fi
Boston's Logan International Airport is under the Port Authority of Boston. It seems they have a wi-fi network throughout the airport and the access fee for this network is $7.95 a day. That seems pretty reasonable since most airports that are wirelessly enabled charge about the same.
Continental Airlines offers their Presidents Club members free wi-fi access in the President's Club lounge in 20 airports nationwide, Logan being one of them. When the Boston Port Authority realized this they issued a cease and desist letter to the airline. Based on the context of the linked story, it sounds like Boston told them to stop without telling them why for at least a year. Then they cited "safety concerns" as well as "management concerns".
There have been frequency and interference studies out the wahzoo as far as to the interaction between the un-licensed 2.4GHz band (where wi-fi lives) and the licensed bands where Emergency Response networks play and the findings show wi-fi doesn't do anything to interfere with the ER networks. Boston Port Authority claims "it's not about the money, but about safety and management", but it seems there's a little bit of a conflict of interest here. Wi-fi was designed to be a consumer based standard so that the general public could maintain wireless networks independent of government oversight. Logan Airport makes money on their private network, but if you sit outside the door of the President's Club Lounge you don't have to use their network, because Continental's is free. Sounds like someone's a little miffed because their cash cow found pastures a little greener than theirs...

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