Business is booming for Boingo Wireless’ DAS networks. It won more contracts to install, manage and operate DAS systems in the first quarter of this year than it did throughout last year.
What’s behind Boingo’s DAS success? Company officials say the secret is Wi-Fi.
“A lot of our success in Q1 was driven by the fact that we do incorporate Wi-Fi into a lot of the networks we build,” Doug Lodder, Boingo vice president, business development, told AGL Small Cell Link. “We don’t look at a network as either DAS or Wi-Fi. It is simply a network, and when you view it that way you realize you can add value on many fronts, whether it is cellular or Wi-Fi offload.” Comprehensive networks must be built that meet the needs of the carriers, the venue and the users, he added, and users don’t know or care if they are on Wi-Fi or cellular.
In the last few months, Boingo signed agreements with three universities, an NBA sports arena, two multi-use sports and convention complexes, a major domestic airport and the largest airport in Latin America.
Contracts were announced with John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; EnergySolutions Arena, home of the Utah Jazz, Salt Lake City; two airports in Dubai; University of Houston Stadium, which is still under construction; Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and the Dream; and Sao Paulo International Airport.
In addition to the new DAS contracts, Boingo added almost 1,000 DAS nodes with the launch of service at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Nebraska and at the University of Arizona, bringing its total nodes to 7,300 or a 16 percent increase quarter over quarter.
Also catching fire during first quarter was the Hotspot 2.0 standard, known as Next Generation Hotspot, which automatically connects a mobile device to a hotspot as it comes near. The standard will make Wi-Fi more similar to cellular, thus promoting its marriage with DAS.
In September 2013, Boingo launched a Hotspot 2.0 test bed in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The testing went so well that Boingo decided to rollout Hotspot 2.0 networks with its partners in 23 of its 75 airports, including John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, Logan International and Midway International.
“Much like a DAS network is invisible to the user, Hotspot 2.0 makes Wi-Fi connecting just as seamless,” Boingo CEO David Hagan said during the company’s first quarter 2014 earnings call. “This provides a tremendous user experience as it is usually connected before the user is even aware the network is available.”
Boingo worked with Wireless Broadband Alliance and the Wi-Fi Alliance on standards for several years.
“We had a hand in pushing the Hotspot 2.0 specs and Next Generation Hotspots standard out of the lab into the public domain,” said Katie O’Neill, Boingo director, communications. “Handsets that are Hotspot 2.0 capable are still relatively limited in the number of models on the market. Boingo’s Hotspot 2.0 airports currently support iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches with iOS 7, as well as Macintosh laptops running OS X Mavericks with a Passpoint profile installed, and will soon be available for other operating systems.”
Another initiative gaining momentum is the “Comes with Boingo” product, whereby companies can provide their customers with complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi service on their handsets. Last year, Samsung began offering complimentary Boingo accounts for the purchase of select Android devices through its Galaxy Perks program. This year, American Express announced that it’s offering this benefit to Platinum card members on a global basis.