Boingo - a traveler's lifesaver

I've been road testing Boingo on both my laptop and N95 the last few months. It's great.

I've been road testing Boingo on both my laptop and N95 the last few months. It's great. In short, Boingo provides subscribers with an easy way to avoid all those ludicrous $X per day charges that hotels and airport operators try to gouge out of you when on the road and especially when out of range of your home network provider.

In my case that means any airport in Spain plus the rest of the world, especially if I want to use the laptop rather than simply collecting and answering email over the N95. Given that I make a foreign business trip almost every month, that can quickly add up to a lot of money. As an aside, remember that Blackberry is not as popular in Europe as it is in the US where every other business person I come across seems to be thumbing their Blackberry.

Boingo's attraction comes in two forms. First the laptop subscription cost at $21.95 per month after the teaser rate of $7.95 for use in the US is easily recouped against hotel and airport charges. The $39 global rate is even better value for money when you consider that a hotel in Amsterdam can charge as much as €24 ($34) per day and one in London £12.00 ($21)per day.

Second, the Boingo network is growing well with more than 100,000 locations spread around the world. So for example last week, I was able to connect at an Ibis Hotel in the UK - something I would normally have done directly through the Orange network. If I'd had time, I would have checked out the connection at Manchester airport. While on a layover in Atlanta, I noticed that Boingo is the preferred partner for a number of alternative providers at the airport.

The proof of the pudding comes in the quality of the WiFi connection. So far I've experienced no problems. This is in sharp contrast to the issues I usually have at conferences when WiFi networks are under provisioned.

My one nit is the fact I need separate subscriptions for laptop and the N95 which comes in at $7.95 per month. I'd prefer to have an all-in-one deal but I guess that will come in time as the network expands and Boingo is able to bundle services more cost effectively.

Finally it's worth thinking about the loyalty angle. Many of my friends detest their day to day provider. This is because they get stung with roaming charges out of all proportion to the value they deliver. Network of network providers like Boingo offer a different, more convenient experience. I sense that is likely to keep customers more loyal, especially for the increasing numbers of road warriors and Starbucks style startups.