American Airlines had also been told by Massport, Boston-Logan's operator, to refrain from offering its own Wi-Fi service in its membership lounge: American had filed comments on behalf of Continental in the FCC petition that was granted by the regulator this last week. The FCC order reaffirmed a variety of rights for individuals and organizations that include preventing landlords from exercising any control of the use of antennas that distribute wireless signals over unlicensed bands, such as with Wi-Fi. American Airlines told The Boston Globe that they'd have service installed as fast as possible.
It's a little unclear whether airlines would move to add their own Wi-Fi in gates and other waiting areas, as there's more ambiguity about who would have access to that service, and there's less necessity for the airlines to offer Wi-Fi there as an incentive. However, they might choose to do so as another competitive factor. Imagine if you used your ticket number or confirmation number to get an hour of free Wi-Fi in each airport you flew through at the gates of that airline? That would almost certainly fit within the FCC's ruling. (Unfettered free access in more public areas, even around gates, could be trickier.)
As I've written many times before, I do think that the general issue of airport Wi-Fi has much to do with the kind of expected user. With most business travelers carrying laptops, and all of them having some kind of telecom subscription (cell phone, cell data plan, home DSL, and so on), it's increasingly likely that they would pay a very small amount of additional service charges each month--about $20 or so--to obtain unlimited Wi-Fi access in most airports and in thousands of other locations. Those users won't care whether service is "free" or not, but rather whether it's included in their unlimited plan.