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FCC seeks comment on AT&T’s inflight internet proposal

AT&T is asking the FCC to grant the proposed inflight rule changes.
August 26, 2014

Runway Girl Network alerts us to the FCC asking the public for comment on AT&T’s request that rules be revised to support its soon-to-be launch of inflight internet service.

In a public notice released yesterday, the FCC said comments pertaining to AT&T’s petition are due on 22 September and reply comments are due on 6 October. – RunwayGirlNetwork

As we have previously discussed, AT&T is going to launch a 4G LTE-based inflight service. But before AT&T launches this service, they are looking to change the rules governing Wireless Communications Services. AT&T is asking the FCC to grant the proposed rule changes “expeditiously”.

On 8 August, AT&T’s specific plan became clearer when the company petitioned the FCC to open a rulemaking proceeding to amend rules governing the C and D blocks of the WCS in the 2.3 GHz band. At present, AT&T cannot launch its proposed 4G LTE inflight connectivity service without this regulatory relief because, as described by the firm, use of the C and D blocks “will not fit neatly” within the literal words of the Commission’s existing WCS rules. – RunwayGirlNetwork

The FCC has not made a decision on how or when it will auction the spectrum to support future inflight connectivity services. However, it has already caused controversy as Qualcomm, AT&T and Gogo all differ on how the FCC should distribute the spectrum going forward.

Let’s not forget about Verizon either as they may be interested in competing against AT&T with inflight services:

However, if AT&T is successful in its petition to use its C and D block spectrum for ATG services, AT&T competitor Verizon might also be incentivized to try to leapfrog AT&T. Verizon is understood to have studied Gogo through a micro lens for some time, and is trying to ascertain whether it makes sense to enter the market alone or in partnership with a firm that has already done much of the hard work in securing deals with US carriers and hardware certification. As previously reported, Wall Street insiders have been buzzing that Verizon and Gogo are in talks. However, Verizon has not responded to repeated requests for comment. Gogo declined to comment. – RunwayGirlNetwork

With 76% of connected aircraft in the US using Gogo’s service, do not expect to see them go along with any move that would improve inflight competition.