Boingo launches flat-rate access to global Wi-Fi hot spots

Geared to business travelers, it offers 100,000 hot spots worldwide for $39 a month

Boingo Wireless Inc. launched today a new $39-per-month flat-rate global Wi-Fi service to provide business travelers with access to 100,000 Boingo hot spots.

No roaming charges or per-minute fees will be required for the new service, called Boingo Global, the company said in a statement.

"The days of per-minute charges and incremental roaming fees for Wi-Fi Internet access are over," said Dave Hagan, president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Boingo.

Travelers can purchase Boingo Global online and download the Go Boingo utility software for Windows that identifies partner hot spots. Go Boingo also allows a user to log in with a single click using the Boingo account.

Boingo Global is likely to increase the attractiveness of Wi-Fi access, since many business travelers are used to paying $10 per day or more for Internet access in hotels and airports on an ad hoc basis, said Julie Ask, an analyst at JupiterResearch LLC in San Francisco. "This service takes you over the bump" of the costs, she said.

BlackBerry users and other wireless e-mail customers are finding cellular data fees to be "pretty expensive," she noted.

Even 100,000 hot spots will not be enough to please some of the busiest business travelers, noted Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc. in Boston.

Kerravala travels abroad frequently and said that he has to pay hotels and airports for ad hoc usage. In the U.S., he uses a wireless broadband data card in his laptop. As a frequent user of instant messaging, Kerravala said he relies heavily on Internet access through hot spots when abroad.

"The problem with Boingo Global is that even at 100,000 hot spots, it's not everywhere," Kerravala said. "I'd pay $40 a month if it were access to all hot spots."

Other companies, such as iPass Inc. and AT&T Inc., offer business travelers connectivity to a variety of Wi-Fi hot spots and other connections such as Ethernet, although plan details vary, said Ina Sebastian, a JupiterResearch analyst. For example, iPass provides its iPass Mobile Office service, which its Web site describes as offering per-minute charges to more than 77,000 hot spots globally. Pricing is not listed.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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