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Largest Commercial Wi-Fi Network Deployed at CTIA
Posted: 24-Mar-2002 [Source: WAPsight]

[The largest single commercial Wi-Fi network in a US city was recently deployed during the CTIA show in Orlando, Florida.]

by Jean Panke -- CTIA along with Boingo Wireless, the Orange County Convention Center and its Internet provider, Smart City deployed the largest commercial Wi-Fi network in a single location in the US. During CTIA, Boingo offered attendees who signed up for three months of Boingo Pro Service an Avaya Wireless Gold Wi-Fi Card for $25 ($125 value). WAPsight signed up for the CTIA promotion and had a chance to use the service over the course of the show.

Boingo was founded back in February of 2001 by Sky Dayton securing $15 million in venture funding. Sky is also the founder and CEO of EarthLink, the largest independent ISP in the US with over $1 billion in annual revenue and more than 6,000 employees. Funding for Boingo was provided by New Enterpsie Associates, Sprint PCS and Evercore Ventures. Boingo Wireless was officially launched on December 20 of last year. Boingo Wireless is an ultra-high-speed wireless Internet service provider offering broadband Internet service through hundreds of public Wi-Fi (also referred to as 802.11b) "hot spots." Hot spots are heavily trafficked areas such as airports, hotels, coffee shops and various free community networks. Wi-Fi provides speeds up to 11Mbts which is almost 200 times faster than 56k dial-up service. Several years ago, Dayton set up a Wi-Fi network in his house and the idea for Boingo was born. Boingo was built on the notion that, in time, Wi-Fi would grow in momentum with thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots around the world as individuals, organizations, and companies began implementing the technology. Boingo's strategy is to organize the chaos making it easier, particularly for 'road warriors,' to find and connect to the wireless Internet. What the Boingo software does is "sniff" out and connect to the broadband wireless networks in whatever area you may be. The Boingo software includes a searchable database of Boingo's hundreds of Wi-Fi hot spots so users can find locations whether they are online or not. To access a Boingo hot spot, a user locates a network signal and clicks "connect" to start using the Internet. Boingo also provides a one-click "Personal VPN" that secures the connection. Boingo offers three service plans beginning with a "Boingo"-as-you-go plan at $7.95 per 24 hour connect, Boingo Pro at $24.95 per month for up to 10 24-hour connects with each additional connect $4.95; and Boingo Unlimited at $74.95 per month for unlimited access. Sky Dayton stated that the success of both EarthLink and Boingo are dependent upon the need to provide readily available customer support. Dayton noted these are key ingredients in maintaining customer satisfaction and growth. WAPsight felt the software installation was clean and easy. It was a matter of plugging in the Wi-Fi card in our notebook's PCMCIA slot, installing the driver software and we were up and running with Internet access over the network's T1. The service made it possible for us to write and publishg keynote speeches live from the hall. We were also able to post pictures at the show within minutes making for a wireless press room. We found that speeds varied over the course of the show due to congestion of the network. Overall, we were pleased with the performance of the system and were impressed with its usefulness. In booking our hotel for JAVAOne in San Francisco, we accessed customer support at Boingo and they verified that our hotel was part of their service network. They even recommended we get a room on the second floor for best connectivity.

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