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.

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