Boingo Brings $1.99 Pay-Per-Use Wi-Fi to Apple's iPad

Boingo today launched a new app to help get Apple iPads online without any ties to AT&T. Boingo’s Wi-Fi Credits software — which also supports iPhones and iPod touch devices — offers wireless access for $1.99 per hour. The new software is available today in the iTunes App Store and leverages a user’s iTunes account for payment.

Unlike the Boingo monthly subscriptions plans — I pay for and use the $9.99 monthly service on a regular basis — Boingo Wi-Fi Credits appeals to the casual web surfer. Consumers simply purchase one or more credits as needed. Each credit purchased is good for 60 consecutive minutes of wireless access, and unused credits are banked for up to a year.

The first credit is free upon installing the Boingo Wi-Fi Credits application, and Boingo adds one free credit with a block purchase of 10. Customers can use the Wi-Fi at any of Boingo’s 30,000 U.S. locations or 125,000 worldwide hotspots, although the software is only available in the U.S. for now. Boingo’s service is typically found at major airports and chains like Starbucks. Boingo says other countries will see the software in the near future. The application also provides a mapping service, making it easy to find hotspots in the Boingo network.

At first, I thought Boingo’s new product would have less appeal to those with a Wi-Fi + 3G iPad model as AT&T is offering free Wi-Fi with the iPad’s “magical and revolutionary” 3G monthly service. But what if you decide not to use 3G on your iPad for a month? You’ll have to rely on free hotspots, or leverage AT&T’s Wi-Fi On the Spot product — it, too, offers pay-per-use Wi-Fi, but costs $3.99-$7.99 per session. For $1.99 an hour, Boingo’s solution offers a cost-effective alternative. If you have an iPhone on AT&T’s network, you’re already paying for a 3G connection and receive free Wi-Fi at AT&T hotposts, but iPod touch users stand to gain here as well.

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