Not good news for travellers who have Boingo accounts. Boingo has just dropped 15 US airports from its network of Wi-Fi hotspots. These airports are Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL), Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Boston-Logan (BOS), Buffalo (BUF), Burbank (BUR), Indianapolis (IND), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami International (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), Oakland (OAK), Omaha (OMA), Providence (PVD), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO), Sacramento (SMF). These airports’ Wi-Fi networks are managed by the Advanced Wireless Group, a company that designs and runs public wireless networks in US airports and large venues.
Andy Abramson, a frequent contributor to MuniWireless, says: “With Boingo entering the advertising supported space, the two are now head to head in competition for airports and ad revenue, and until the ad-network sharing can be sorted out, and how that relates to money, this type of problem will only likely get worse for the traveler.” Andy has posted an excellent analysis of what this means for people who travel a lot and use airport Wi-Fi and what it could mean for AT&T and Verizon’s LTE push.
I have a Boingo account and have used it in many airports around the world. I share Andy’s experience with the Wi-Fi network at San Francisco International Airport (SFO): the log on procedure is cumbersome on an iPad and a Mac Book Pro. Like Andy, I believe that T-Mobile dropped the airport Wi-Fi market too soon. I used T-Mobile in the past to access Wi-Fi hotspots and in most cases, the log on procedure was easy.
CORRECTION (6 September 2012): Boingo users can still use the free Wi-Fi networks at these 15 airports. Boingo terminated its roaming agreement with AWG. This agreement was for premium access to the AWG networks. Based on Boingo’s tests and customer feedback, there was no difference between the free and paid Wi-Fi service at these locations and in some cases, the free networks that Boingo was paying a premium for enhanced access for their customers were wholly unusable in key parts of the day. It makes no sense for Boingo to pay premium access fees for a service that is freely available.