Boingo Wireless

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-06-23 Print this article Print

Boingo Wireless

Boingo Wireless
With its well-made client software—which includes an access point sniffer, hot-spot directory and optional VPN feature—eWeek Labs found Boingos service the easiest to use of those we tested. However, the software supports only Windows and Pocket PC 2002 operating systems. An unlimited-use subscription to Boingo costs $49.95 a month.
  • PRO: Easy-to-use client software.

  • CON: Supports only Windows; limited hot-spot availability.

  • Boingos hot-spot service consists of a federation of smaller access point networks and independent hot-spot locations (totaling more than 1,300).

    The Boingo Wireless client application, which is required to use the service, enables Boingo to manage sign-on and billing across this diverse network.

    Boingos software (see screen) runs only on Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP and Pocket PC 2002. This will limit the range of machines on which the service can be used, but the client software does add certain benefits.

    For example, the Boingo software actively looks for in-range access points in much the same way that Windows XPs zero-configuration wireless utility does—a plus for Boingo users running a version of Windows earlier than XP.

    In addition, we could maintain profiles for various access points—including those not part of the Boingo network—in which we could save relevant information such as service set identifiers and WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) keys. This will make it easy to switch between work, home and public access points.

    Boingos software also contains a directory of Boingo access point locations, which allowed us to figure out where the closest access point was before connecting. In San Francisco, where we tested the services, the Boingo directory returned 65 wireless access points, seven of which were free and did not require a Boingo subscription.

    The Boingo client can provide an encrypted VPN (virtual private network) link from a client machine to Boingos servers. While this is no substitute for a companys own VPN, it does provide much better data protection than nothing at all. (Public access points generally dont have even WEP security features enabled.)

    Boingo offers a service plan for $24.95 a month, which includes 10 Connect Days (days in which users have unlimited use of the service); additional Connect Days cost $4.95 each. Boingo also offers an unlimited-use service plan for $49.95 per month, as well as a pay-as-you-go plan that costs $7.95 for two Connect Days and $7.95 per additional Connect Day.

    As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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