Surfing the Friendly Skies

BOSTON (05/23/2000) - At least three companies have started to deploy wireless LANs to provide high-speed (11M-bps) Internet connectivity to business travelers who have equipped their laptops with $99 wireless LAN cards. Before these services were available, travelers had just one option - 56K-bps dial-up connectivity.

Wayport Inc. in Austin, Texas, offers wireless LAN access at airports in Austin and Dallas and plans to roll out its service to 20 airports this year. Global Digital in Boston has installations at the Boston and Philadelphia airports, while MobileStar Network Corp. in Richardson, Texas, just signed a deal to offer service at American Airlines' Admiral's Clubs in 49 airports.

Global Digital provides travelers with a real bargain - high-speed Internet access at no cost. Wayport says it also offers the service at no charge to help build the market, while Global Digital plans to support its free service with advertising. MobileStar's rates start at $29.95 per month or $6.95 per day, though the Admiral's Club service will be offered free to club members.

All three companies provide their service by installing wireless LAN access points - antennae and receivers connected to the Internet - at multiple locations throughout an airport. A traveler can access the service by turning on a computer equipped with a wireless LAN access card and an antenna. Once the computer is booted up, the traveler is connected.