Reader Question: Are There Caps on Boingo Wireless Wi-Fi Usage?

Image 1 for post Boingo in the airport( 2008-09-19 23:34:10) Earlier this morning, I met one of our readers in the local Starbucks. I did have my USB 727 adapter for 3G, but I opted to use my new Boingo Wireless account with Wi-Fi instead. I signed up for the $9.99 monthly plan about two-weeks ago and I’m making use of it a few times per week. I’ll share more on my why I’m not using my 3G adapter in the near future. For now, I wanted to circle back to a relevant reader question from Luscious: a frequent and insightful commenter who also has a blog devoted to notebook reviews and information.

Luscious asked me about bandwidth limits on the Boing plans. That’s a great question because as anyone who uses 3G likely knows, “unlimited” data plans are often capped at 5GB per month.

I didn’t notice any limits in my plan’s Terms of Service, so I checked in with Jeremy Pepper from Boingo on this topic. Here’s the deal:

  • There are no usage caps in the Americas, so for us, the Boingo Unlimited plan at $9.95 per month is truly unlimited in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The $59 monthly Boingo Global account is indeed limited, but not by bandwidth as the cellular 3G plans are. Due to the traditional European business model, these plans offer 2,000 minutes of usage.
  • I didn’t ask about the $7.95 Boingo Mobile plan for handsets, but the product page makes it pretty clear that it’s unlimited like the $9.95 per month laptop plan. In fact, it appears that you can use it in more countries than that plan as well.
  • Jeremy tells me that bandwidth is also “shaped” a little in airports that Boingo operates at, but that’s to ensure a positive experience for everyone in those locations. He also offers the caveat that like any network, the more folks that use it, the more the existing bandwidth is shared, so experiences are clearly going to vary.

So far, I feel the $9.95 monthly plan is worth the expense. Although I’m limited to Boingo Wi-Fi locations, it is one-sixth the price of the EV-DO plan that provides Internet access anywhere there’s coverage. One tidbit that I’d like to throw to the Boingo folks as food for thought: why not a dual-plan that supports both laptops and handsets? I’d like to see my one account be used on my choice of a notebook / netbook or on a handset: say for $12.95 per month. Sometimes I’m in a Boingo network area, but either didn’t bring a notebook or don’t want to boot up just to check in on things with my handset for 15 minutes. I could have two Boingo accounts, but that would be overkill for me; a hybrid plan at just a few dollars more would be appealing.

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