In Massachusetts, "Free" is a four-letter word

At Boston’s Logan Airport, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle between the airport and Continental Airlines that sheds quite a bit of light on the Massachusetts mentality.

The Massachusetts Port Authority (which runs Logan) currently offers wireless internet access for a $7.95/day fee. But Continental recently started offering WiFi for its frequent flyers for free.

There’s nothing guaranteed to get a stronger response from a Massachusetts governing body than to threaten its income. They’re ordering Continental to get stop their WiFi program.

They’re trotting out the big guns, too. They say that Continental’s WiFi transmitter could pose a security threat to the airport, possibly interfering with communications and other electronic systems at the airport. They offered a solution: Continental could get rid of their own system (which they offer at 27 airports around the country, so far without any problems) and use the airport’s WiFi system — for a reasonable fee, of course.

Continental is responding, saying that the Authority has no right to hold a monopoly on WiFi. They’re saying the obvious — there’s absolutely no security risk in it, and that it’s just a naked money grab. Further, they say that under FCC regulations, the Authority has no right to regulate WiFi.

It’ll probably end up in court. And if there’s a shred of justice and common sense, the Authority will get its wrists slapped and Continental can continue giving away access to its customers.

But then again, this is Massachusetts we’re talking about…

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