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Restrictions Eased on Use of Internet in Flight

The Federal Communications Commission moved closer to allowing more flights to have Internet aboard, one of the few places the Web is still generally not allowed. On Friday, the FCC approved a process for airlines to apply to obtain licenses for Internet aboard their aircraft. Previously permission was granted to airlines through an ad hoc process.

Airlines must have the permission of the FCC to tie into the airwaves of a satellite while flying that enables passengers to gain access to the Web. Airlines must also gain Federal Aviation Administration permission. The FAA oversees the safety of Internet in-flight systems.

The hurdles put in place by regulators have stalled Internet implementation for in-flight say some experts. However, some airlines have also been reluctant to jump on the bandwagon for Internet for other reasons.

Some passengers do not want to be stuck between two fellow passengers in the same row who have videos streaming, are playing games and possibly in the future, talking via a cell phone.

Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the FCC said that whether people travel for leisure or work, they are increasingly expecting to have access to Internet wherever they go. Genachowski said the new application process would speed up the wait for approval by over 50%.

Experts are currently questioning the restrictions on electronics devices in flight. The experts are saying that an e-reader does not create the same type of interference threat a cell phone could for the ability of a pilot to operate his plane. However, the Kindle is treated just the same as all of the other electronic hand held devices that all must be turned off prior to takeoff and landing.

A working group was launched in August by the FAA to study electronic device usage on board including that of tablets, e-readers and game consoles.

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