Earthlink Founder Launches Hot-Spot Wi-Fi Company

By Matthew Peretz

December 20, 2001

Earthlink founder, chairman, launches Boingo Wireless to offer Wi-Fi services to customers nationwide at growing list of public hot-spots

Sky Dayton, CEO and founder of newly-launched Wi-Fi Wireless ISP Boingo Wireless, knows the pain and frustration travelers and others endure when connecting to the Net using dial-up. That's why today's launch of a Wi-Fi based wireless service by Dayton, best known as founder and current chairman of EarthLink, is no whim or shot in the dark. It is also why Dayton's brainchild was able to secure $15 million in venture funding from New Enterprise Associates, Sprint PCS, and Evercore Ventures in its Series A round. The company has actually been around since February, 2001, but operated in stealth-mode under the name "Project Mammoth."

Wi-Fi hot spots are popping up everywhere and Dayton plans to make sure that Boingo Wireless customers have access to Boingo's more than 750 public connections in major hotels, airports, coffee shops, and other venues nationwide. Current airports on the Boingo network include: Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin-Bergstrom, San Jose, and Seattle-Tacoma. Prominent hotel properties in the loop are Four Seasons, Hilton, Radisson, Sheraton, Wyndham and more. Boingo Wireless already has hot spots in the top twenty highest trafficked airports around the U.S.

What differentiates Boingo Wireless from the pack of would-be contenders in the Wi-Fi world, aside from its star-studded Board of Directors led by Dayton, is the value proposition and focus that Boingo brings to the table. The very fact that public Wi-Fi hot spots are popping up all over the place necessitates a simple means of locating such available connections. "Wi-Fi hot spots are popping up all over the place, but until now actually finding and connecting to them was a real challenge," added Dayton. "Our software makes locating, 'sniffing' out and connecting to these broadband wireless networks simple. Point-and-click simplicity for finding and connecting to Wi-Fi networks."

To that end, Boingo Wireless today announced that it's Beta Software is now available at the company's Web site. The software actively seeks available signals and makes it simple to connect, according to the company. It includes a profile manager so that customers can connect to favorite Wi-Fi spots quickly. A simple click will be all that is required of Boingo customers to connect them to the Internet at Wi-Fi speeds of up to 11 Mbps. Boingo also stated that its one-click "Personal VPN" resolves the notorious Wi-Fi security issues and secures the connection all the way back to a Boingo data center deep in the heart of the Internet.

Boingo's full release software will include a searchable database of all of Boingo's hundreds of Wi-Fi hot spots so customers can find locations whether they are online or not; an integrated authentication mechanism to make login simple; and the Personal VPN.

The Boingo Service Plans are tiered based on customer needs:

  • Boingo As-You-Go: no monthly fee, $7.95 per 24 hour connect per venue
  • Boingo Pro: $24.95 per month for up to 10 24 hour connects; each additional connect is $4.95
  • Boingo Unlimited: $74.95 per month for unlimited access
As founder and chairman of EarthLink, the largest independent ISP in the U.S., Sky Dayton set his sights high. "I've spent many years looking for another idea with EarthLink potential," said Dayton. "Last year I set up a Wi-Fi network in my house, and I realized I was looking at the next stage of the Internet. I knew I had to make the leap and be CEO again. With Wi-Fi, the wireless Internet is now affordable and easy - to build and to use." Dayton continued to expound on his motivation and philosophy, saying "I see a world where thousands of entrepreneurs and companies build millions of wireless broadband hot-spots using Wi-Fi, blanketing cities with wireless broadband. These networks will be popping up everywhere, and it will be chaos. Bongo's mission is to organize that chaos, to make it easy to find and connect to the wireless Internet wherever you are."

Matthew Peretz is Managing Editor of

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