The Global Gateway Alliance (GGA), a group of leaders in business, government, academia, labor and other sectors in New York City is urging the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide free Wi-Fi access to the 110 million passengers who use these airports each year.
In a letter to David Hagan, CEO & Director, Boingo Wireless, Inc., a technology provider, Joe Sitt, Chairman, GGA and Stephen Sigmund, Executive Director, GGA noted that published reports indicate that Boingo will soon extend its contract with the Port Authority for paid Wi-Fi service at New York area airports until 2024.
"Free Wi-Fi has become a basic amenity at airports. Fifteen of the 20 largest airports in the country provide it, according to Global Gateway’s July survey, as do major airports around the world like Dubai, Paris, Hong Kong and Mexico City," GGA said.
GGA said that despite being the largest airport system in the country, LaGuardia, JFK and Newark - the three major area airports -comprise three of only five of the nation’s busiest airports without access to free Wi-Fi.
"In an age where business travelers and families alike are spending hours in airports to allow for extra security and flight delays, free Wi-Fi isn't just a convenience; it's a necessity," GGA said.
Boingo has the exclusive rights to Wi-Fi at New York metropolitan airports, dating back to a deal signed originally with the Port Authority in 1999, GGA said. "This was well before the ubiquity and utility of Wi-Fi could even be contemplated. Now, with everything from cafes and parks to sports stadiums and subway systems joining the vast majority of airports in providing free Wi-Fi, holding travelers hostage to a contract from the Internet equivalent of the Dark Ages is just plain wrong."
Boingo needs to allow a free, advertising-supported model that provides revenues to the company and the Port Authority, and gives travelers a better experience, GGA said. "If you aren't willing to adopt an advertising-supported model in the New York area, Boingo should develop either a tiered system that is free for at least the first 30 minutes or provides options for both free and paid access. This will allow business and leisure travelers alike time to do basics like check and respond to email or conduct research. "
Boingo has precedents for each of these options, GGA said. "You have already announced a free Wi-Fi program at Calgary International Airport; have tiered programs in place at Raleigh-Durham International and Nashville International; and a free or paid access option at Denver International Airport."
We have offered to help identify potential sponsors for free Wi-Fi, and we reiterate that offer of support, GGA said.
"Airline travel is difficult enough these days. The time is now to work together to find a solution that allows New York area passengers access to a free service that they are already accustomed to throughout the country and the world," GGA said.