Wireless Internet access service (WIS) is an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy. According to one recent analysis, 41 percent of all Internet users — or 56 million Americans (28 percent of all Americans) — use devices that are capable of accessing the Internet wirelessly.[FOOTNOTE 1] Data published earlier this year by the Federal Communications Commission also establishes that mobile wireless broadband connections increased from a mere 83,503 units at the end of 2005, to 1.91 million by mid-2006 — an eye-popping 2,187 percent in just six months.[FOOTNOTE 2] This burgeoning demand for WIS is likely to accelerate even more quickly owing to an important series of rulings released by the FCC on March 23, 2007 (the order).[FOOTNOTE 3]

The order is intended to spur the “growth and deployment” of WIS by resolving nettlesome uncertainties concerning the manner in which this technology is regulated under federal law. WIS includes so-called Wi-Fi “hot spots” that permit wireless Internet access at locations such as restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, airports, convention centers, city parks and campus settings, by consumers using a laptop computer or smartphone with an internal or external Wi-Fi modem.