Continental Airlines, Logan Airport Fight it Out Over Wi-Fi

Bostonis Logan International Airport is trying to block Continental Airlines from providing free wireless Internet access to its frequent fliers, which competes with the airportis US$7.95 per day pay service. Continental has filed a first of its kind complaint with the U.S. governmentsi Federal Communications Commission over the matter.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airport, claims Continentalis Wi-Fi service interferes with other wireless devices. It believes Continentalis service poses an "unacceptable potential risk" and said it would take all necessary steps to have the service turned off and removed.

Continental argues Massport has no legal authority to restrict its Wi-Fi use and that its service doesnit interfere. Continental said that a 1996 Telecommunications Act law prevents local officials from interfering with wireless services.

"We believe that offering free Wi-Fi at Bostonis Logan airport is consistent with the FCCis regulations and its prior rulings on similar issues and that it is permissible under the terms of our lease," Continental spokeswoman Julie King said Wednesday.

Massport ordered Continental to remove the Wi-Fi antenna from its Presidents Club lounge by July 9. The FCC isnit expected to rule on the dispute before August 29.

All 27 of Continentalis frequent-flier lounges at airports have offered free Wi-Fi service since last December. A number of major airlines throughout the world offer similar wireless services, but many charge for them, as do the top 20 U.S.-based airports in parts of, if not all, of their terminal areas.

But while Massport contends Continentalis service interferes with security equipment, a spokeswoman told ZDNet news the airline is free to purchase access from Massportis partner at a "very reasonable rate structure for airline use based on the number of emplanements at Logan airport or on the number of ihitsi."