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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

F.C.C. Advances Plan for Faster In-Flight Wi-Fi

 The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed auctioning off the rights to use newly available airwaves to provide better in-flight Wi-Fi connections, as the government agency seeks to improve the speed and lower the cost of Internet service on commercial flights.

The commission’s proposal is the first step toward a goal that it is likely to take a couple of years, at least, to reach: providing in-flight Internet service that can match or exceed the capabilities that most Americans have at home or can find in coffee shops.

The new format would use a more reliable system of contact between a plane and the ground, agency officials said, and should allow providers to offer more consistent service that is some 30 times faster than the service that many Americans have in their homes.

Although it will be at least a couple of years before the new service is available, federal officials and people in the broadband business expressed excitement that the new format could free airline passengers from being captive to the expensive and rather slow Wi-Fi that is currently available on only some domestic flights.

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