Wi-Fi Consolidation Continues with Boingo Buy

8 Comments

[qi:___wifi] Boingo Networks, a Wi-Fi hotspot network, said today that it bought Opti-Fi Networks from Parsons Transportation Group and ARINC for an undisclosed amount. Opti-Fi builds and manages Wi-Fi networks for 25 North American airports. The deal means Boingo now operates 55 Wi-Fi networks in North American airports, and it follows last week’s $275 million buy of Wayport and its 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by AT&T (s T).

AT&T’s buy highlighted the importance of Wi-Fi on consumer phones and laptops, and helped offload data from the carrier’s cellular network. This deal proves how the inclusion of  Wi-Fi on mobile phones and demand for ubiquitous broadband is making Wi-Fi networks a valuable asset. Seven years after being created by EarthLink founder Sky Dayton, Boingo may be seeing its worth bounce.

8 Comments

Stuart Friedman

Wifi is a great backup when you are indoors, in a 2g area, or out of the country. My provider ATT gives me 20 megs of data that I can use in 65 countries outside the US. 20 megs is that much. Boingo mobile’s $8 wifi roaming package is a very nice supplement to that. It gives me connections in a huge percentage of the world’s airports, European train stations, and on several municipal wifi nets like the Cloud’s network covering central London.

I would never go with a PDA that didn’t have wifi as a fallback.

Andy H

Not quite sure what this play means. Opti-Fi wasn’t exactly coming at this from a position of strength, airports are a notoriously difficult market to get traction in. Parsons and ARINC (who previously owned Opti-Fi) couldn’t really get anywhere with it, so the divestiture is no surprise. A significant and steady rollout of WiMax/4G in the US could drastically change the airport WiFi landscape. For airports who have already made the switch from fee to free based WiFi, their service will continue to hum along at a marginal cost. It *might* make sense for an aggregator like Boingo, a $30/monthly subscription is a hell of a lot different from individual airports STILL charging $6-10 per DAY.

Stacey Higginbotham

Ian, good question, although I’m curious as to how long these networks will be attractive, given WiMAX and 4G network deployments. Are Wi-Fi networks a stopgap solution?

Ian Andrew Bell

So the question is … is T-Mobile a willing seller of their (North American) WiFi assets? Or does this re-emergent value opportunity finally (or temporarily) validate their investments over the past few years?

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