Email Delivery

Receive new posts as email.

Email address

Syndicate this site

RSS | Atom


About This Site
Contact Us
Privacy Policy


November 2010
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

Stories by Category

Basics :: Basics
Casting :: Casting Listen In Podcasts Videocasts
Culture :: Culture Hacking
Deals :: Deals
Future :: Future
Hardware :: Hardware Adapters Appliances Chips Consumer Electronics Gaming Home Entertainment Music Photography Video Gadgets Mesh Monitoring and Testing PDAs Phones Smartphones
Industry :: Industry Conferences Financial Free Health Legal Research Vendor analysis
International :: International
Media :: Media Locally cached Streaming
Metro-Scale Networks :: Metro-Scale Networks Community Networking Municipal
Network Types :: Network Types Broadband Wireless Cellular 2.5G and 3G 4G Power Line Satellite
News :: News Mainstream Media
Politics :: Politics Regulation Sock Puppets
Schedules :: Schedules
Security :: Security 802.1X
Site Specific :: Site Specific Administrative Detail April Fool's Blogging Book review Cluelessness Guest Commentary History Humor Self-Promotion Unique Wee-Fi Who's Hot Today?
Software :: Software Open Source
Spectrum :: Spectrum 60 GHz
Standards :: Standards 802.11a 802.11ac 802.11ad 802.11e 802.11g 802.11n 802.20 Bluetooth MIMO UWB WiGig WiMAX ZigBee
Transportation and Lodging :: Transportation and Lodging Air Travel Aquatic Commuting Hotels Rails
Unclassified :: Unclassified
Vertical Markets :: Vertical Markets Academia Enterprise WLAN Switches Home Hot Spot Aggregators Hot Spot Advertising Road Warrior Roaming Libraries Location Medical Public Safety Residential Rural SOHO Small-Medium Sized Business Universities Utilities wISP
Voice :: Voice


November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | August 2010 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | March 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | October 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | January 2008 | December 2007 | November 2007 | October 2007 | September 2007 | August 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | January 2007 | December 2006 | November 2006 | October 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | April 2006 | March 2006 | February 2006 | January 2006 | December 2005 | November 2005 | October 2005 | September 2005 | August 2005 | July 2005 | June 2005 | May 2005 | April 2005 | March 2005 | February 2005 | January 2005 | December 2004 | November 2004 | October 2004 | September 2004 | August 2004 | July 2004 | June 2004 | May 2004 | April 2004 | March 2004 | February 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 | October 2003 | September 2003 | August 2003 | July 2003 | June 2003 | May 2003 | April 2003 | March 2003 | February 2003 | January 2003 | December 2002 | November 2002 | October 2002 | September 2002 | August 2002 | July 2002 | June 2002 | May 2002 | April 2002 | March 2002 | February 2002 | January 2002 | December 2001 | November 2001 | October 2001 | September 2001 | August 2001 | July 2001 | June 2001 | May 2001 | April 2001 |

Recent Entries

In-Flight Wi-Fi and In-Flight Bombs
Can WPA Protect against Firesheep on Same Network?
Southwest Sets In-Flight Wi-Fi at $5
Eye-Fi Adds a View for Web Access
Firesheep Makes Sidejacking Easy
Wi-Fi Direct Certification Starts
Decaf on the Starbucks Digital Network
Google Did Snag Passwords
WiMax and LTE Not Technically 4G by ITU Standards
AT&T Wi-Fi Connections Keep High Growth with Free Service

Site Philosophy

This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator. Part of the FM Tech advertising network.


Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2010 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.

Powered by
Movable Type

« Budget Error Boosts St. Cloud Network's Costs | Main | Calling the Air-to-Ground Auction for AirCell »

May 22, 2006

Boingo Wireless Acquires Airport Cellular, Wi-Fi Operator Concourse Communications

It's all about voice calling plan minutes: Today's announcement of the acquisition of Concourse Communications by Boingo Wireless has a lot to do with cell/Wi-Fi convergence for voice over IP (VoIP), although there's a lot of other ways in which the deal works. Concourse runs the Wi-Fi and often cellular networks in 12 North American airports, including gems like Minneapolis-St. Paul, Newark, and O'Hare (Chicago). Boingo, until now, has operated no locations. The merged company will run Concourse as a mostly-intact unit under Boingo's chief operating officer. Both companies are cash-flow positive, said Boingo chief executive and president Dave Hagan, but no other financial details were provided. The companies collaborated on a failed bid for the Los Angeles airport (LAX)--T-Mobile won that contract--but that led to this deal.

This is a seemingly odd move for Boingo, the second of three companies founded by Sky Dayton that relied on infrastructure built for and maintained by other parties. EarthLink leased time on modem banks run by others. Boingo pays for access to hotspots built by others. And Helio, a cellular company aimed at young adults, is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), buying minutes from carriers that run the physical networks. (Because Helio is a joint venture of EarthLink and SK Telecom, Dayton remains on the board of EarthLink but is no longer chairman and is the non-executive chair of Boingo, which may become a Helio provider.)

At second glance, an acquisition of physical infrastructure may be the future of all three firms: EarthLink is now building metropolitan-scale wireless networks in Philadelphia and elsewhere because broadband wired paths via DSL and cable to their users are unavailable. Boingo is moving on from a pure laptops-need-Internet-access approach which will benefit from operational knowledge and operational access. (We will need to wait five to ten years to see if Helio has to follow the same path.)

Boingo's strategy over the last year has to been to figure out how to leverage its now 45,000-strong aggregated network of Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide, which includes nearly 300 airports, for partners and hardware. There's little doubt now that at least MVNOs are eager to have more voice minutes run over cheaper networks.

Boingo's announcement last week that they were turning their Wi-Fi toolkit into an open-source project was part of their effort to encourage handset and handheld device makers to consider baking Boingo into Wi-Fi-only VoIP phones or the more significant cell/Wi-Fi dual-network devices.

I'm not sure that the cell industry would reveal how much people talk in airports, but it may be several billion minutes each year. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said last month that over 745m passengers traveled on domestic U.S. flights or international flights departing from the U.S. (That's enplanements, not unique one-way trips by passenger.) It only requires one call on average per passenger before getting on a plane to top a billion minutes used.

Boingo's CEO Hagan noted in an interview about their software platform recently that they can resell voice access over Wi-Fi profitably for about a penny a minute versus the several cents a minute that an MVNO pays for wholesale network time. A penny a minute produces modest returns, of course, as a billion minutes turns into just $10m. On the other hand, that's revenue in one kind of venue that can be captured with little additional work beyond the engineering the company has already carried out.

Added to this is Concourse's dual business: they run the cell infrastructure--typically logical access to the physical network, as it were, or routing cell calls to wired backbones--but that gives them an intimate knowledge of cell interchanges. They don't have to ask another firm's permission to install gateway hardware that will offload VoIP from the LAN onto the PSTN or cellular network, one expects, although airport authorities may constrain cell contractors' activities.

The acquisition benefits Boingo's existing retail hotspot business, too, by providing splash pages from which their software can be downloaded at high speed. Hagan said that a lightweight "applet" version of their client software is coming; for Windows users, it's currently a download of over 13 MB, although that's trivial if the download is happening from the airport's wireless LAN.

Boingo has roaming deals in place with AT&T/Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile for at least airport service, and, in some cases, beyond that. Boingo already had a roaming relationship in place with Concourse, so this doesn't expand their access.

Of the top 10 U.S. airports by passenger traffic in 2005, Boingo's acquisition of Concourse gives them facilites ranked No. 2 (Chicago O'Hare), No. 9 (Minneapolis-St. Paul), and No. 10 (Detroit). Boingo has roaming agreements directly or through its acquisition with the other seven or none is needed. 1. Atlanta: Local operator; roaming in place. 4. LAX: T-Mobile is building out, ICOA operates food courts; roaming in place with both. 5. Las Vegas: Free. 6. Denver: AT&T/Cingular; roaming in place. 7. Phoenix: Free. 8. Houston (Bush): Sprint Nextel operates; roaming in place.

The top tier airports are mostly served with Wi-Fi or have plans underway, Hagan said, but the second and third tiers are still being built out. With the financial results released a few weeks ago from ICOA, a hotspot operator specializing in second- and third-tier airports, Boingo might already have a second acquisition target on its radar.

ICOA needs more investment to continue operations, but it has a very sweet North American footprint already in place. Hagan wouldn't comment on future plans or ICOA's financial status, but he did say the company was neither trying to roll up a large footprint nor was it adverse to future airport location acquisitions. He said there were some "interesting" companies in the space. With 15,000 airports in the U.S., and only several hundred with Wi-Fi, there's a lot of room to grow before reaching those terminals with single gates in North Dakota.

1 Comment

Does anyone think that Boingo is a strong enough player in this space to carry off this kind of a merger? Or are they a footnote in the Wi-Fi world?