You thought it was over, right?: The auction for the more valuable 3 MHz chunk of spectrum for air-ground communications--in-flight, domestic US broadband--was over months ago, but the FCC grinds through a very detailed process after the bidding is done to ensure that all the niceties were observed. AirCell announced yesterday that the FCC's process was completed, and the regulatory agency had handed AirCell the license.
The auction rules give Verizon AirFone two years to carry out a migration process that would free up spectrum for AirCell and the other auction winner, Live TV (a division of JetBlue), which received a 1 MHz license. AirFone said several weeks ago that they would shut down commercial aviation operations, and many airlines have apparently already turned off the phones. (I noted the phones were dead on Delta in a flight this last week, but I'd heard Delta had turned off AirFone some time ago.)
AirFone said they would continue some general aviation (privately owned aircraft) service, and apparently some governmental service as well. The terms of the auction make it perfectly allowable for AirCell and/or JetBlue to work out details privately with AirFone, and even pay them sums of money or make other arrangements to go live earlier than mid-2008. AirCell talks about a late 2007 commercial launch of their service, which would offer about 1.5 Mbps in each direction, from what the company has told me.