RealTime IT News

Wireless Wayport's Airport Splurge Continues

Taking a page from their wired peers, wireless local area network (WLAN) providers Wayport Inc. officials announced Wednesday the acquisition of four Laptop Lane business centers at the Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport.

The Cincinnati/North Kentucky acquisition is a sweetheart of a deal, serving as one of Delta Airlines major hubs and a gateway for most Midwest travel to the East and West Coasts.

Wayport has wireless at 4 major airports (all terminals and gates at Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle-Tacoma, San Jose and Austin-Bergstrom) and now 13 Laptop Lane locations at 7 airports.

The growing 802.11b provider for business travelers has been steadily buying up Laptop Lanes centers throughout the U.S. to build out their nationwide network of airport business centers. Laptp Lanes offers broadband and dial up connections (generally through a shared T-1 line), PCs, telephones, unlimited long distance and fax/copier/printer services for an hourly charge, normally around $15.

Wayport's name will take replace Laptop Lanes at the completion of the acquisition, although only four airports around the country are equipped with Wayport's Wi-Fi service.

According to Dan Lowden, Wayport vice president of marketing, WLAN services are currently only available in four of the airports they serve: Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle, San Jose and Austin. He said it's not clear when Cincinnati will come online in a wireless way.

"We are definitely interested in doing (wireless) in all the airports, but there are a lot of decisions to be made and the airports have a lot on their minds right now, with all the security issues," he said. "The service is real important to them, because you have people coming to the airport up to two hours early, but they have a lot to consider."

Michael Mullaney, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport commercial and business development manger, said the wireless option is perfect for people waiting for their plane.

"We look forward to our partnership with Wayport and the increased satisfaction of our passengers who, now more than ever, are looking for ways to stay productive while at the airport," he said.

The quickest path to national growth for providers (and a much cheaper route from a buildout standpoint) is to buy into the infrastructure of an existing business instead of forking out the costs of setting up shop from scratch. Many national digital subscriber line (DSL) providers, like MegaPath Networks, did the same years ago.

The trick is to not overextend, like many DSL providers did, forcing them to make hasty exits from unprofitable markets after taking staggering losses.

"That's why when we acquired the Laptop Lanes, we didn't acquire all of them, we only acquired select ones that were in very good locations within very good airports," he said. "We made the decision to stick with the ones that are profitable and have an opportunity to grow."

Late last year the company finished the acquisition of Laptop Lane business centers at Hartsfield Atlanta, Chicago/O'Hare, New York La Guardia and Salt Lake City.

Wayport's WLAN services are also found at more than 420 hotels throughout the nation, in deals with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Westin, Radisson and Doubletree.