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4G/3G/WiFi

Google's MVNO to test Wi-Fi offloading with Boingo

Google Fi – the T-Mobile-powered MVNO from the Internet search giant – will begin testing a technology that will push its customers' traffic onto Boingo's Wi-Fi hotspots where available.

The development was announced by Boingo Wireless's CEO during the company's quarterly conference call with analysts this week.

"We recently signed an agreement with Google to provide Wi-Fi offload to Google Fi devices," Mike Finley said during the event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks. "Using Passpoint technology, Google Fi devices will automatically connect to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots when they are in a Passpoint-enabled location. While this will be a trial to start, we believe it will grow over time and expand to new locations, much like our other offload agreements have. We're excited to have Google on board."

The impetus for the development is unclear, but it comes just a few months after T-Mobile closed its merger with Sprint. Sprint and T-Mobile are the two main network operators supporting Google's innovative Google Fi MVNO, along with U.S. Cellular and others. Google unveiled the offering in 2015, touting customers' ability to seamlessly move across T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular networks, as well as more than 1 million public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Thus, the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile removes one of Google Fi's selling points.

A Google offloading deal with Boingo could be designed to reduce the amount of money that Google pays T-Mobile for wholesale access to its network. However, it's also worth noting that Google does offer its Google Fi customers access to T-Mobile's new 5G network, though Google Fi makes only a passing nod to this fact on its website.

Google joins AT&T, Sprint and Charter in inking Wi-Fi offloading deals with Boingo. A Boingo representative did not immediately respond to questions from Light Reading about the status of Boingo's landmark Sprint offloading deal in light of T-Mobile's acquisition of the company.

Boingo reported overall revenue of $58.7 million during its quarter, down slightly from the previous quarter and down almost 15% from the same quarter a year ago. Of that total, Boingo's Wi-Fi offloading business accounted for $9.7 million.

The company announced it was up for sale earlier this year. During the company's call with analysts this week, Boingo's Finley said that "we're continuing to work through discussions with multiple parties," but he offered no concrete update. However, the company recorded $1.1 million in expenses during the quarter associated with the effort.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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