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FCC loosens phone network lease rules, allows wireless Internet on planes, but puts indecency regs for satellite radio on hold

[JURIST] In a banner day in telecommunications regulation, the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday voted to lessen the strictness of regulations requiring major telephone carriers to lease lines to competitors at federally-mandated rates, and to facilitate wireless Internet access for airplane travellers, but declined to apply indecency standard to satellite radio broadcasters. Under the new phone line lease rules, narrowly approved by the Commissioners 3-2 along party lines with the Republican majority prevailing, competitors would maintain their access to major carrier lines to serve business customers, but would no longer have rate-guaranteed access to serve the residenial market. Read the FCC news release here [PDF]. Reuters has more. The Commission also voted to allow airlines to use new technology that would enable them to provide Internet access to travellers using seat-back phones (read the FCC release here), and to seek public comment on ending the curent rule against on-board use of cellphones while in the air (see the FCC release here [PDF]). AP has more. In the third action, FCC Media Bureau Chief Kenneth Ferree told Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. that under current precedent FCC indecency standards did not apply to satellite radio because it is still subscription-based. Again, Reuters has more.

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