Blog Post

Suddenly, Verizon Loves Wi-Fi — What's That Apple Tablet Got To Do With It?

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

[qi:gigaom_icon_routers] Verizon (s VZ) said today that it’s inked a partnership with Wi-Fi hotspot service provider Boingo Wireless that will allow its broadband customers to use Boingo hotspots across the country, an agreement that was first reported by The Wall Street Journal back in May. The New York-based phone giant has been somewhat of a flip-flopper when it comes to playing nice with Wi-Fi, always insisting that its 3G wireless networks are better. Regardless, Boingo is the one that’s laughing all the way to the bank. The two companies have had a relationship for many years, but only because MCI had partnered with Boingo before being acquired by Verizon. Since then, Boingo has partnered with Verizon Business, which I guess includes parts of MCI.

The new contract is designed as a master agreement, giving Verizon the right to extend services previously provided to Verizon Business to other business units. “Verizon is one of our longest-standing platform services partners, and the renewal and expansion of this agreement is further validation of our turnkey offering,” said Dave Hagan, president and CEO of Boingo Wireless. “This renewal extends our six-year relationship into a decade-long partnership.” (Boingo Press Release.)

Boingo, I bet at the urging of Verizon, is being vague about the deal. But since this is a much-expanded relationship — probably the biggest private-label deal ever signed by Boingo, and one that is going to significantly impact the company’s revenues — I would say Verizon has significant plans for the Boingo network. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Boingo has been selling its network as a white-label solution to companies such as EarthLink (s elnk), BT Infonet and others. And as a direct result of this business, the company has become profitable.

After mocking Cablevision (s CVC), its hometown broadband rival, and AT&T (s T), its national rival, it looks like Verizon is eating crow when it comes to Wi-Fi. When Cablevision launched its Wi-Fi service, a Verizon spokesperson dismissed it as “nothing more than a marketing stunt.” A stunt so awesome that Verizon is copying it!

From Verizon Press Release:

New Verizon FiOS Internet customers who order an up-to- 25/15 Mbps* (megabits per second) or faster connection, or new HSI customers who order an up-to- 3 Mbps/768 Kbps* (kilobits per second) or up-to- 7.1 Mbps/768 Kbps* connection, can connect to the new Verizon Wi-Fi hot spots, at no additional charge as part of their broadband service.

The new WiFi service is also available free of charge for existing FiOS Internet customers with up-to-20 Mbps or faster packages and existing HSI customers who have either an up-to-3 Mbps or up-to- 7.1 Mbps package.

So the big question is, why is Verizon doing this deal? For starters, Cablevision in particular has been very successful in building loyalty with its broadband subscribers thanks to its free Wi-Fi offering.

Verizon will be able to do the same, expanding its relationship by offering free Wi-Fi to its wireless customers. And if the rumors of an Apple (s aapl) Tablet that uses the 3G and 4G networks are indeed true, Verizon is smart to get a Wi-Fi network in place — so as to not repeat the mistakes of AT&T, which spent $275 million to buy another large Wi-Fi provider, Wayport, to bulk up its wireless capabilities.

Maybe Verizon should buy Boingo?

28 Responses to “Suddenly, Verizon Loves Wi-Fi — What's That Apple Tablet Got To Do With It?”

  1. Paul McG.

    How about: nothing?

    I just became eligible for the free Verizon WiFi. Guess what? Mac OS is not supported — only the most recent version of Windows. The software determining if my computer met their specification kindly informed me that I would not be able to access free Verizon WiFi until after I (ahem!), “upgrade” my operating system.

    The real pisser of course is that there is no technical reason whatsoever that WiFi access should be enabled or not based on some proprietary Verizon crapware that they want to put on our machines, regardless of the OS, is there?

  2. George

    Only windows users can use this! The fine print on the Verizon website says: “Verizon Wi-Fi is not available for PDAs, phones, desktop PCs or Macs.”

  3. well, i’m a FIOS customer, went to signup and it is WINDOWS only right now – so something must be changing if you’re dreaming up an apple tablet connection…there is currently no way for a Mac-using fios customer to enjoy the free wifi ;)

  4. As much as I want to see an Apple Tablet, I worry about the credibility and motive of the source of this rumor. While I am not really a fan of Cramer, the youtube below summarizes the secret, illegal hedge fund tactics in which false rumors are spread to journalists about highly speculative stocks so they can ensure they profit (illegally) on holdings.

    If you are impatient, just skip straight to 3:30 where Cramer explains exactly how the industry manipulates Apple. If you like investing in the tech industry, go back and watch the whole 6 minute video a time or two; he mentions RIM and Palm as well. There are financial textbooks dedicated to this stuff that aren’t as informative. Might be an eye-opener for a few people.

  5. Verizon is now providing WiFi at thousands of hotspots across the USA, and it’s available to millions of Verizon broadband customers, both FiOS and High Speed Internet users, at no extra cost. Not just a regional service like cable, since we know our customers may travel anywhere in the country.

    Posted a bit ago to my Verizon At Home blog .

    • Robert Welbourn


      As many who have posted to your blog have commented (myself included), why is there a need to download Verizon-specific, Windows-specific client software to use the service?

      It would also help to get the Firefox installer for the client software fixed, so that there isn’t an endless cycle of download the plugin, restart Firefox, download the plugin…

      • richo123

        Good points Robert. Verizon has given itself a black eye with this hurried product.
        Cablevision requires only a web portal login not a Windows Vista/Windows XP (SP3) specific applet that does not work with many connection managers (eg Lenovo access).

        Not working with Macs in particular is very unwise. Macbooks are rife around here.
        Also it does not work with Windows 7….

        If a web portal works for Cablevision Eric, why can’t Verizon do the same? Your FIOS service is second to none. This wifi product doe not measure up to the competition.

  6. Depends on the price, it would obviously be a great asset but its really only delaying the inevitable. Ideally concentrating on the 4G rollout is money better spent and I think Verizon’s subscriber base is large enough now to weather a little gadget jockying. Plus AT&T’s continued bad press and recent 4chan-gate problem doesn’t have anyone chomping at the bit to signup for more internet. I think its really a bad move, their focus should be no wireline reliance but there is always a price worth doing it.