EarthLink Builds in Boingo

Two years ago, EarthLink got into the wireless business, offering hotspot access across the US via its EarthLink Wireless High Speed services. The service was powered by the virtual hotspot network of aggregator Boingo Wireless . This week, the two companies entered a new multi-year agreement that means the Boingo Roaming System will continue to be the source of hotspot roaming for EarthLink.

More interesting for Boingo this time around is that, instead of EarthLink requiring a separate download for subscribers to get access, the ISP has licensed Boingo’s software developer’s kit (SDK) and will build Boingo support directly into the EarthLink TotalAccess client software for Windows and Macintosh systems.

TotalAccess has long been EarthLink’s answer to the AOL interface, providing easy sign-on for various types of connections, from broadband to dial-up. This move will mean laptops running TotalAccess can also go online at Boingo’s partner hotspots.

“TotalAccess provides much more than connection and hotspot management,” says David Blumenthal, EarthLink’s senior manager of corporate communications. “As an EarthLink subscriber, the user will have the opportunity to use spamBlocker, PopUp Blocker, server-side virus protection, spyware blocker, webmail, the personal start page, and the list goes on. We are effectively taking our award-winning software suite and porting it into the wireless world.”

“If you go to EarthLink now and want Wi-Fi, it’s a separate download,” says Boingo president Dave Hagan. “Now you can use [TotalAccess] for home or work if you carry a laptop around like I do.”

Earthlink currently charges $21.95 a month for the first twelve months of Wireless High Speed Unlimited access to Boingo hotspots (prices goes up to $39.95 a month after the first year). Blumenthal says, “That price is likely to change in the not too distant future, specifically for EarthLink subscribers (or at least a specific number of free connects for our existing subscribers).” The company provides dial-up as a complimentary option for broadband subscribers, for example.

Hagan calls the deal “an indication of where the market is going; Wi-Fi’s a great compliment to a major brand, in this case a dial-up and broadband ISP service. You’ll see more like this in the future.” TotalAccess should have Boingo support built in sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

Boingo provides its Platform Services to other vendors to use as their hotspot service, including companies like Fiberlink, MCI, and Metrocall. Boingo’s founder and CEO, Sky Dayton, is also the founder of Earthlink, and still serves on that company’s board.

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