Boingo is buying a key competitor in the airport Wi-Fi business, Advanced Wireless Group (AWG), which runs hotspot networks in 17 U.S. airports, including heavily trafficked terminals like LAX, Miami International and Boston Logan International. Neither company revealed the financial terms of the deal, which Boingo expects to close in the fourth quarter.
The deal will combine the two largest airport Wi-Fi footprints in the country, making Boingo the hotspot provider of record in 30 of the 50 biggest airports in the country. After the acquisition, Boingo will operate in 80 airports worldwide.
Travelers using Boingo’s service (or the service of one of its many carrier and ISP partners) probably won’t notice a difference, though. Boingo has a roaming agreement with AWG, allowing its customers to use the AWG’s networks. The only difference now is that Boingo customers might soon find themselves automatically connecting to access points at AWG airports, instead of having to go through a login screen.
Airports are quickly becoming a major focal point for Wi-Fi usage on smartphones given the fact the huge amounts of daily traffic they see and the transient nature of the customers that use their networks. That’s why Boingo recently made Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country, a testbed for trialing emerging Wi-Fi technologies. Notably it’s turned O’Hare into a proving ground for Hotspot 2.0, a new standard that will allow smartphones and tablets to automatically authenticate and connect to hotspots through secure connections.
Correction: The original version of this post reported that Boingo and AWG have reciprocal roaming agreements. While Boingo has a roaming agreement with AWG, AWG doesn’t have one with Boingo.