RealTime IT News

Boingo Buys First Airport Connection

Wi-Fi network aggregator Boingo Wireless announced it plans to acquire wireless airport network operator Concourse Communications Group.

The deal gives Boingo its first direct connection with the lucrative airport market, as well as provide a platform to test the company's new VoIP product.

While terms of the deal, expected to be finalized by the end of the month, were not disclosed, the acquisition places Boingo's network in 12 of the most traveled U.S. airports, including New York's JFK and Chicago's O'Hare.

Previously, Boingo had only roaming agreements allowing its subscribers to use airport wireless networks.

"Data showed us that high-traffic airports are the single-most valuable venue for Wi-Fi usage and customer acquisition," David Hagan, president and CEO of Boingo Wireless, said in a statement.

Since 2003, Concourse was among the Wi-Fi roaming partners giving Boingo customers access to 225 airports.

The acquisition brings the Boingo brand in touch with 54 percent of passengers in the top 100 North American airports, or 27 percent of all North American airport travel, according to a statement.

Along with New York City and Chicago, the deal also involves Newark, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto and Ottawa.

Boingo customers won't notice any changes, Christian Gunning, Boingo's marketing communications director, told internetnews.com. Concourse will adopt the Boingo brand.

For Wi-Fi users, they will have the option of purchasing a day pass or monthly pass to use the Boingo network. Gunning said Boingo will continue Concourse's neutral-host practice, allowing other Wi-Fi networks to roam onto the airport connections.

Noting Boingo has traditionally focused on the laptop market, Gunning said the purchase allows the company to develop its open source, dual mode handset software and its VoIP management.

Concourse could help Boingo sell Voice over Wi-Fi services. In 2005, Skype launched Skype Zones, a service allowing Skype users to make VoIP calls over the Boingo Wi-Fi network.

That agreement followed an earlier pact with Vonage.

Boingo's dual-mode efforts, which would let a user begin a conversation using a cell network and then switch the call to a Wi-Fi connection, was demonstrated earlier this year during the 3GSM convention in Spain. At the gathering, Boingo demonstrated a dual-mode handset from Kyocera.

Boingo will retain nearly all of the Concourse staff and will continue operating offices in Chicago, New York and Dallas, according to a statement.