BWI begins offering free Wi-Fi for travelers

August 01, 2012|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, The Baltimore Sun

Free Wi-Fi access at U.S. airports appears to be spreading like firewire and Baltimore has finally caught it. Today, BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport announced that free, basic wireless Internet access is now available for travelers in addition to a paid, premium service.

Users of the free service will see a brief advertisement before beginning the 45-minute wireless session. Customers can use as many free sessions as they want.

Now, those who choose to pay a fee will get faster bandwidth and commercial-free wireless service for $4.95 an hour or $7.95 for 24 hours of access.

BWI is offering the free service in partnership with AIRMALL, the airport's concessions developer. The new service is powered by Advanced Wireless Group, which is already working on upgrades to the airport's technology to meet the expected increase in usage.

Reagan National and Dulles International already offer free Wi-Fi as do many other U.S. airports. For example, Chicago airports recently announced free Wi-Fi for its customers in a deal with Boingo. Los Angeles International is set to launch free Wi-Fi this summer (also to be provided by Adavnced Wireless). Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix are among some of the airports that also offer free wireless internet. Minneapolis/St. Paul plans to have it in place by the end of the year.

In June, The New York Times wrote about the prevalence of free Wi-Fi, noting that customers - in particular, business travelers - will pay for speed.

Um, I won't. I'd rather watch a couple commercials and save a few bucks. And as a non-paying customer, I say thank you BWI. Now, if only more hotels would get with the program.

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