The unsigned editorial essentially says that Massport is reaching far beyond its grasp: The editorial states in no uncertain terms that if Massport is allowed to shut down legally operating Wi-Fi networks in its facility by its tenants, that this could cause other authorities and municipalities to attempt the same, ruining the unlicensed bands.
It's a very, very well-informed editorial, accurate in its facts and I agree with its statements and conclusion. They write, "This move is an audacious assertion of power by local government. The authority, known as Massport, does not own, control, or have any right to regulate frequencies assigned to Wi-Fi." Further, "This case is not about the right of local government to impose taxes to fund essential public services. It is about the seizing of assets (Wi-Fi frequencies) for the purpose of destroying competition and imposing monopoly prices."
They note that Massport is citing interference as a danger without substantiating it. And that's right. If Wi-Fi interferes with airport purposes than the airport is not operating itself correctly, and the TSA, FAA, and FCC should assert control over their use of spectrum until it's sorted out. If it's a ploy, some people should lose their jobs. You can read about the history of Massport mismanagement over the last decade at IssueSource.
Massport was allowed its own response on the same page, and it's full of nonsense. I cannot wait for the FCC smackdown. The Massport CEO Craig Coy writes, it's "a case of airlines putting travel perks for an elite few ahead of the broad interests of the traveling public" and states "Those without an ISP may pay a nominal fee for 24 hours of service"--a nominal fee being $7.95.
He then writes, "In contrast, airlines at Logan offer limited service to their elite frequent fliers who pay extra to join private, members-only clubs....Unlike the airlines, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan, treats all passengers and ISPs equally." This guy is for real. Holy cow. He draws a salary and everything.
This disregards the obvious the fact that Massport's Wi-Fi is, in fact, available in private airport lounges, and allows the precise choice that Coy states is unavailable. His statement completely ignores Continental's free, free, that's right, free Wi-Fi network! Free.
"In these days of terrorism and safety alerts, security is a critical consideration for Logan's decision to offer central Wi-Fi," Coy writes. Oh, dear lord, see above where I suggest some firings. "The central Wi-Fi network provides first responders at Logan with enhanced services and secure communications." Merciful heaven.
He writes, "The airlines' Wi-Fi networks are not only exclusive but also could degrade the quality of service for all users. Imagine the Wi-Fi chaos if every airline, every vendor, every security agency and every ISP deployed its own system." They're exclusive in that they are designed for the people who use them: airline club members. Wi-Fi is designed for contention. The market ensures that the networks remain useful. And Coy ignores the convenient fact that he does have the right to restrict non-tenants from building networks in the airport. You're not going to have 1,000 networks in the airport.
Here's the capper: "All airlines enforce governmental restrictions on the use of electronic devices on aircraft. Why do airlines now want to ignore similar common-sense restrictions on the use of Wi-Fi devices in airports?"
Because there's no problem. Because the FCC regulates this. Because the FAA knows there's no problem. Because, in short, you're trying to control something you clearly don't understand.
Mr. Coy, why do you hate the free market?