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A Tale Of Two Boingo Experiences: San Jose Versus Seattle

A sign in Columbia City, Seattle, Washington indicates that the entire neighborhood is a wifi zone.

Image via Wikipedia

The folks over at Boingo gave me an account so I can evaluate the Boingo WiFi service. Boingo is one of these hotspot aggregator services that allows you to log in at many different paid hotspot services for one, low, monthly fee. They offer four different service plans:

  • $21.95 a month for unlimited use for hotspots within the U.S. with a laptop
  • $7.95 a month for unlimited use for hotspots within the U.S. worldwide with a WiFi-enabled mobile device (e.g. Nokia phone, Internet Tablet)
  • $39 a month for unlimited use for hotspots worldwide (over 100,000+)
  • A Pay As You Go plan for $7.95 a day for U.S. hotspots, $9.95 a day for International ones

Boingo set me up with both mobile and laptop access to evaluate. On my abbreviated trip to the Bay Area, I tried to use the service from my Nokia N95, both at SeaTac and San Jose airports. It didn’t work so great at SeaTac, which has AT&T WiFi (and Boingo is a roaming partner). I was able to log in–manually–with the laptop credentials and the web browser on my Nokia N95 and it worked just fine. Not the most ideal experience, but it worked.

San Jose was a different story. I fired up any old application on my Nokia N95, simply selected the Boingo access point, and it worked without having to type in any passwords. The underlying WiFi provider in San Jose is actually T-Mobile (which I also have an account with).

The mystery of why it didn’t work in SeaTac was resolved by going to Boingo’s website to look up locations. In the location for SeaTac Airport, it specifically says that it is temporarily unavailable to Nokia S60 users. Bummer.

I will probably give this another try when I have to travel to Ottawa in a couple of weeks. Hopefully by then they will resolve whatever problem they’re having at SeaTac with the Nokia S60 client.

One word of caution: in order for the S60 client to work correctly, you must set the phone to periodically scan for access points–something that can have a negative impact on battery life. This allows the Boingo client to auto-recognize valid SSIDs and automatically provide the credentials automatically.


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