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Airbourne Internet Set for FCC Auction

Reuters reports that U.S. regulators plan to sell airwaves starting May 10 to provide communications services like high-speed Internet to U.S. air travelers. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it plans to auction airwaves now used by phones embedded in airplane seats. Those phones, operated by a Verizon Communications unit, are not used regularly because of the high cost.

The financially strapped airline industry could generate a new stream of revenue by partnering with companies wanting to offer high-speed Internet or a cheaper on-board telephone service.

Verizon plans to bid in the sale so it can offer wireless broadband during flights, according to company officials. It could take about a year for Verizon to deploy if it wins a license, they said. "We're certainly planning on being successful at the auction," Bill Pallone, president of Verizon Airfone, said in a telephone interview. "Primarily, initially we believe it will be data (service), which is the biggest usage we anticipate here in the States at least."

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