Wi-Fi installation company Concourse Communications LLC signed agreements this week with both Sprint PCS Group and Boingo Wireless Inc. to increase WLAN roaming among major U.S. airports.
Boingo is a large Wi-Fi aggregator and wholesaler, providing billing and roaming services to 2,000 WLAN hot spots, which are operated by more than 50 service providers. The company has more than 5,000 existing hot spots under contract, according to officials at the Santa Monica, Calif., company.
In the companys latest deal, Boingo Roaming System customers will have access to all the hot spots that Concourse operates. These include LaGuardia Airport and JFK International Airport in New York, and Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Concourse also operates the Wi-Fi hot spots at Detroit-Wayne County Metropolitan Airport and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport; Boingo customers will have access to these airports shortly, officials said.
Sprint PCS Group, which launched its Wi-Fi service in September, this week announced a similar agreement with Concourse. The Overland Park, Kansas, service provider now offers Wi-Fi access at Laguardia and Minneapolis/St. Paul, with access to Concourses remaining airports due shortly.
Sprint also has launched Wi-Fi service in the companys hometown airport. Kansas City International Airport now offers PCS Wi-Fi Access.
Sprints service costs $6.95 per connection, which includes up to 24 hours of access; many potential customers have said that they are more likely to pay a one-time fee rather than a monthly fee for hot spot service—especially if they are stuck in the airport anyway.
"I have no aversion to spending money while traveling," said Steve Durst, co-founder of Skaion Corp., a security consultancy in Chelmsford, Mass. "If I knew I was going to be waiting for a while, Id have no qualms about paying a modest fee. Youre stuck there anyway."
"I very much like the pricing model," said Christopher Bell, CTO of the People2People Group, a media services company in Boston. "Thats a much better fit for me as I dont believe Id use wi-fi enough to justify $25 to $29 or more per month, but Id love to be able to use it selectively—especially when I have long layovers."
Meanwhile, iPass Inc. this week introduced a roaming service for its iPass Wireless Corporate Access service, which provides relatively secure access to corporate data from public hot spots and lets IT managers keep track of such access.
The iPass Wireless LAN Roaming application integrates the corporate wireless LAN, the iPass network, and employees home networks into a single, centrally-managed service, said officials at the Redwood Shores, Calif., company.
iPass Wireless LAN Roaming is in beta trials and will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2004.