Will airports or airlines prove the connectivity hot spot?

As a frequent flyer from our nation’s capital, I’m happy to report that Boingo Wireless is adding Dulles International and Washington National to its expanding global network of airport hotspots accessible to travellers.

The Boingo Wireless contracts mean Boingo’s WiFi network will now be available to the more than 24 million passengers who travel through Dulles annually, and the more than 18 million annual passengers who fly through Washington National. A statement will be released today.

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As Boingo and other mobile Internet aggregators expand on the ground, one wonders what type of competition they will face from airborne connectivity providers.

Will travellers forgo their airport hotspot hook-up in order to connect on the aircraft via Aircell, LiveTV, Row 44 or Panasonic? Or will Boingo and others be able to convince folks to do their e-mailing/Internet searches pre-flight? 

Flight duration will surely be a factor. A two hour flight might not warrant an airborne connection but passengers on a long-haul flight may get the itchy finger (that is, at least, what American Airlines is counting on as it readies to launch Aircell’s Gogo service on transcontinental 767 flights).

There is, of course, the possibility that a marketing arrangement can be reached by Boingo with air-to-ground and satellite-based connectivity players. Boingo serves more than 500 airports including 85 of the top 100 airports worldwide. That’s a powerful presence. Already laying some groundwork in this regard is iPass, which recently announced it will offer WiFi roaming with Aircell’s Gogo.

(Finger pic at Wikipedia here

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2 Responses to Will airports or airlines prove the connectivity hot spot?

  1. joe August 11, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Seems a lot easier to operate a laptop in a hot spot on the ground than to put in place all the infrastructure needed to make it fly. Yet putting it in an easy to use fashion in their airport homes has not been a priority for the airlines. You mention Dulles, also my home airport, and has been a disaster lately wrt WiFi. United airlines has only just put free Tmobile WiFi access in the lounges as a perk (previously you had to be a subscribing Tmobile user). Making any of the 3 WiFi systems present at Dulles work with iPass has been a joke.

    If you can’t make it into a viable business at the airport where ease of installation and relative passenger comfort is on your side, how can you expect it to make money in the air?

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