Wayport & CNN Unwire Airports

By Eric Griffith

March 04, 2003

The broadband access provide is partnering to install Wi-Fi hotspots that piggy-back on the CNN Airport Network of TVs providing news to waiting passengers, but the airports must first give the okay.

If you've traveled by plane in the United States in the last few years, you've seen the CNN Airport Network. Available at over 1,700 passenger gates in 38 major airports (including Laguardia, JFK, Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, Boston, and many more), they are the television sets at passenger gates that constantly run an airport-personalized version of CNN news, delivered via satellite.

Now imagine every time you see that CNN display hanging from the ceiling you could also go online with your 802.11b-equipped laptop or PDA.

Wayport has the same imagination. The broadband service provider that gives wired and wirless access to guests in 525 hotels also currently provides Internet access to travelers in ten airports (five of which are Wi-Fi only). The company has entered an agreement with CNN Airport Network to host "neutral-host Wi-Fi networks" that would run hotspots on the equipment CNN has already installed.

"We can tap into that line of connectivity to put the APs around the TVs and the network management device in the telecom rooms in the airports," says Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Wayport. "It's not a major installation like if you're doing Wi-Fi by itself. The wires are already there."

Wayport will be approaching each of the 38 airports that run the CNN Network separately, hoping to work out a deal to provide the hotspots for waiting passengers and even to airport personnel. By setting up separate virtual LANs (VLANs) <DEFINE: VLAN> for public and private use, Wayport will give airport personal, from security guards to kiosk vendors, separate wireless access depending upon the terms with the airport.

This type of setup is already in place at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, one of the five airports that Wayport has setup with Wi-Fi only access "practically everywhere" according to Lowden.

"It's really a great agreement because CNN gets to utilize their infrastructure, there's benefit to the airport, no new construction or disruption goes on, and customers get a great service," says Lowden. "And we add additional footprint." CNN says that 400 million passengers see their airport news feed every year.

Wayport "neutral-host configuration" means users of other wireless services -- AKA Wayport roaming partners -- can also use the network, including users with accounts from iPass, GRIC, Boingo, and AT&T Wireless.

Seeing a CNN Airport Network sign obviously won't be enough to tell you there's a hotspot available since not all of the CNN partner airports have signed on yet to allow Wayport access. Intel's new ad compaign for the Centrino mobile platform begins later this month however, and Wayport is one of the partners in the campaign. Lowden says to look for Centrino/Wayport signs at their company hotspots: "We plan to roll those out at each additional airport."

Wayport Wi-Fi access in an airport is $6.95 from time of connection until midnight of the same day, or there's a monthly memberships: $29.95 if you sign up for a year, or $49.95 for month-to-month. Users in airports served by Wayport's Laptop Lane business centers can get pre-paid connection cards covering multiple sessions.

Originally published on .

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