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Verizon Joins Wayport Gang

Verizon Wireless, seeking to stake its claim in the country’s public wireless LAN market, is the latest U.S. service provider to piggyback Wayport Inc.'s 802.11 hotspot services (see Verizon Expands WiFi Coverage).

According to spokeswoman Andrea Linskey, Verizon is looking at “between five and six hundred” hotspots activated today. The carrier declined to comment on future rollout targets.

Verizon's customers will be billed directly though their regular monthly contracts, an offering similar to the integrated voice service and hotspot access package provided by T-Mobile USA (see T-Mobile Unifies Wireless Billing). Prices diverge significantly, however -- a monthly $34.99 unlimited access plan from Verizon, compared with T-Mobile’s $19.99 deal.

Today’s move follows previous Wayport partnerships with rival carriers AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) and Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS) (see AT&T's Hotspot High Noon and Sprint Hits the 'Spot). IDC wireless analyst Keith Waryas estimates that in May this year Wayport was the third largest wireless LAN service provider in the U.S., trailing market leaders T-Mobile and Boingo Wireless Inc.

“Wayport has a pretty good footprint in airports and hotels, and with Verizon they receive access to the largest subscriber base in the country,” says Waryas. “It is almost like a landgrab out there at the moment. Carriers are grabbing all the locations they can and hoping that the roaming issues sort themselves out in the end. That may or may not happen.”

Despite recent skepticism over the revenue potential for public wireless LAN services, Verizon’s Linskey plays down fears that carriers are setting themselves up for a fall (see Is the Hotspot Honeymoon Over?).

“You have to look at it in both contexts,” she comments. “We are serving customer needs, but when customers roam onto wireless LAN hotspots it certainly generates good revenue for us.”

IDC’s Waryas remains doubtful. “The biggest fish that Sprint PCS, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless have to fry is wide-area network connectivity, not wireless LAN. Outside of T-Mobile, I am not convinced these guys see wireless LAN as a competitive driver, but rather something they simply have to offer.”

Verizon’s public hotspot effort leaves Cingular Wireless and Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) as the country’s only operators yet to announce plans for rollout.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

jimbo100 12/4/2012 | 11:39:09 PM
re: Verizon Joins Wayport Gang Someday, Unstrung and IDC will understand that Boingo is not a builder of WLAN hotspots(like T-Mobile or Wayport). Boingo is an aggregator that relies on the networks built by others. They sell monthly access to individuals and try to get some profit after paying for access to the underlying networks. Boingo is in the business of trying to acquire end users and give them seamless roaming, not building networks.

Calling Boingo the 2nd largest WLAN network in the same sentence as T-Mobile and Wayport is just misinformed. Press releases too easily confuse.
chappee 12/4/2012 | 11:20:10 PM
re: Verizon Joins Wayport Gang I don't think Unstrung or IDC referred to Boingo as a builder of WLAN hotspots, but instead as a network/hotspot provider. A subtle but important difference, since it illustrates the approach the company is taking to the same market.

But, from a customer perspective, what's the difference?? Like Sky Dayton's first project- Earthlink- Boingo is trying to string together a footprint through aggregation. To the end user, the actual ownership of the hotspots is irrelevant. What really matters is the number of places that end user can access the service to which they subscribe. From that perspective, saying that Boingo doesn't have the second largest footprint is really confusing the business model with the product that business is selling.


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