You gotta fight for your right to Wi-Fi
Here's good news for Wi-Fi users in airports, rented apartments, and elsewhere: The FCC has ruled (PDF download) that landlords can't block renters from installing Wi-Fi networks on their leased property. The specific decision helps Continental Airlines in its Wi-Fi dispute with Massport, the operator of Boston's Logan Airport, but it has more far-reaching effects, says Susan Crawford, an assistant professor at Cardozo Law School, who wrote up the FCC's ruling on her blog:

This is a significant decision. It means that landlords (even if they're government instrumentalities) can't stop people from operating community Wi-Fi antennas on their leased premises. It means that mesh networks can't be outlawed by landlords on one pretense or another -- as long as the antenna is being used to send and receive signals within the leaseholder's own property, it's covered.

You'd think that landlords would welcome tenants providing a free amenity that other renters can use -- but it turns out that in many cases, landlords hoping to sell Wi-Fi or wired Internet connections in their buildings don't like the competition. One San Francisco landlord in particular went ballistic last month over Google's plans to provide free Wi-Fi to city residents. Now, the FCC has ruled that Massport and other landlords trying to resist Wi-Fi installations were fighting the law -- and the law, and Wi-Fi users, won.
Posted by Owen Thomas 12:03 PM 0 Comments comment | Add a Comment

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