Wireless Debate

TECHBYTES

Wireless Debate

Jodi PrillIt seems some things in life are free. Colorado Springs Airport began offering travelers free wireless Internet access on August 1.
Tack Rice, information system analyst, explains everything for the installation was "off the shelf" and it "doesn't touch any other local area network of the airport."

The model for the system is not new, Rice says. He originally heard about the idea from Lexington (KY) Bluegrass Airport, which installed a similar network.

Rice and his team put together what he describes as a "physically separate internal network. It's a straight pipeline to the Internet."
Cost and security issues were the main motivating factors for installing this type of system. Rice says the installation cost to the airport was $10,000 and then $400 monthly for the Internet service. "The cost to us is so minimal," he says. "I don't see us ever charging for it."

So why isn't COS charging for the service like most other venues do?

"That's the raging debate," says Rice. "Do you make this a revenue stream or do you offer it for free? Our feeling was with the plethora of hot spots [wireless access points] - they're coming up all over the place - increased dwell times with passengers sitting around twiddling their thumbs, we needed to offer them a service. This is an important service, especially for the business class passenger."

About 40 percent of COS passengers are business travelers, according to Rice.

Additionally, the airport believes offering free access will attract more passengers who might otherwise go to local, competing airports. "Denver charges $10 to connect," Rice says.

The system is designed for passenger use inside the concourse, which is some 1,000 feet long.

On average, the airport is seeing about 12 users per day, but Rice adds that there have been as many as 50 persons on the network in one day.

"If you look at the trends," Rice says, "the number of hot spots is multiplying exponentially. They're going to be in a lot more places in the next three years and the public is going to expect to be able to connect."

While many airports scurry to jump on the wireless train, at Toronto Pearson International Airport, James Burke, VP of information technology and telecommunications, says the airport is holding off on implementing public wireless access. "I have yet to see a business model that works in Canada, and I don't think we're providing a disservice by not having it."

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has selected the WLAN (wireless local area network) management platform from Roving Planet. Roving Planet's Central Site Directorâ„¢ will enable the airport's IT department to integrate diverse organizations into a single, common-use wireless network. The airport will be able to run its operational applications over the WLAN and allow airlines to use the wireless network for their own users and operational applications, such as wireless check-in and wireless baggage scanning and tracking. It will also allow the airport to support multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs), providing a variety of choices to travelers. FLL is the third U.S. airport to install Central Site Director from Roving Planet. Installation on the airport's 45 current access points will be fully operational in September.

•Wayport, a WiFi provider, announces a roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless. Under the agreement Wayport will provide WiFi access to Verizon Wireless customers in Wayport-enabled hotels, airports, and retail locations, as well as assist in proving network monitoring and technical support.End Mark

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