Carrier WiFi

Boingo Set for World Trade Center Wireless Network Deal

Wireless services specialist Boingo is close to finalizing a deal that could see it install a commercial WiFi and cellular coverage-boosting system in parts of the new World Trade Center complex in New York City, Light Reading has learned.

Tucked into the wide-ranging minutes of a meeting from Wednesday, March 19, is an update on the status of a proposed deal between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Boingo Wireless Inc. to install a distributed antenna system (DAS) for cellular coverage and a WiFi system in parts of the new World Trade Center. (See Must Haves for the Big Game? DAS & WiFi.)

In the minutes, it was resolved that "the Executive Director be and hereby is authorized, for and on behalf of the Port Authority, to enter into a supplement to Agreement AX-713 with New York Telecom Partners, LLC (NYTP), a subsidiary of Boingo Wireless, Inc., for the development of a Wireless Telecommunications Network Access System at the World Trade Center site, substantially in accordance with the terms outlined to the Board."

The Port Authority originally inked a 15-year agreement with the Boingo subsidiary in 1999. Under the original deal, NYTP would construct a "shared-use telecommunications platform" that would offer all wireless carriers with radio signal coverage at the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels and at LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports and "additional Port Authority facilities under certain circumstances" at "NYTP's own risk and expense."

In August 2011, the Port Authority proposed a supplemental agreement with Boingo to cover the new World Trade Center site. Under the terms of the agreement, Boingo would pay for installation of WiFi and DAS and pay for its upkeep. The Authority also proposed a revenue split with Boingo for its paid premium WiFi service and more:

    In addition, at no cost to the Port Authority, the Port Authority would receive the following in-kind services in connection with the proposed WTC Agreement: a state-of-the-art commercial Wi-Fi system in specified public areas that offers complimentary unlimited and paid premium Wi-Fi service; additional exclusive fiber-optic capacity for Port Authority future use; a DAS battery backup system in the WTC Hub; DAS service coverage in specified back-of-house (non-public) areas; and interim DAS service in specified areas during the construction phase.

The measure finally came up for vote and passed the board last Wednesday. The Port Authority representatives were also notified that the World Trade Center will need an additional $18.8 million because of delays and repairs at the site through April 2014 because of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Total costs of dealing with "response, recovery, restoration and mitigation efforts at the WTC site" from Sandy will total $505.3 million, the Port Authority minutes note. (See US Govt. Wants Tougher Networks Post-Sandy.)

The Boingo supplemental agreement says that the company is "to install and manage DAS and Wi-Fi networks at the WTC Transportation Hub, Retail, Vehicle Security Center and other core facilities at the WTC."

The transportion hub station is designed to handle up to 250,000 pedestrians a day. The retail areas cover approximately 550,000 square feet.

So far, however, the deal doesn't mention World Trade Center One or the other office towers at the site. It is not yet clear if these will be part of a separate deal.

Light Reading asked Boingo about this aspect and possible deployment timescales. "The supplemental agreement is currently in development," a Boingo spokeswoman said. "We can't comment on the final terms of an agreement that is in development."

Light Reading also asked a Port Authority representative about the deal but has yet to receive a response.

The supplemental agreement is still subject to gubernatorial review. This means that actions laid down in minutes will have no effect until the review period ends, unless approved or vetoed by the Governors of New York or New Jersey. The review period is slated to end on April 3 at midnight.

Boingo reported revenues of $106.8 million and a net loss of $3.8 million for 2013. Its share price closed at $6.94 on March 21.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 3/25/2014 | 6:02:07 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll Presumably once they pay off the installation costs, a classic carrier equation.
Mitch Wagner 3/25/2014 | 5:50:31 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll Dan -  if there is revenue-sharing involved here, is there the possibility for profitability for Boingo in the future?, N
Sarah Thomas 3/25/2014 | 10:58:57 AM
Re: Boingo on a roll I'm meeting with Boingo CTO Derek Peterson at CCA tomorrow, so I will ask. The financials of the deals are interesting. WiFi vendors seem to donate APs a lot, especially working with the city or buildings like this, so they have to get their ROI other ways.
DanJones 3/24/2014 | 7:14:40 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll All PR to start. The Port Authority isn't paying for anything and gets a slice of the WIFi revenue. I'd love to know how long it takes for such a  deal to break even.
DanJones 3/24/2014 | 7:08:01 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll Lance Telepnev appears to be the lead on Boingo's WTC work:


[email protected] 3/24/2014 | 5:13:13 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll For what it's worth, there were some distinguished engineers at Pinnacle (two or three).  Did they go to Boingo?
[email protected] 3/24/2014 | 5:08:08 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll What happened to Pinnacle Wireless?  I thought they had this contract with Port Authority through Five Star?  I know they had at least part of the contract - perhaps the Public Safety part.  Pinnacle has or had huge assets tied up in this design and implementation, so I understand.


Steve Saunders 3/24/2014 | 4:56:24 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll And when GW Bush was Prez (sic) of the USA we called him the Flubenator 

I thank you 

Mitch Wagner 3/24/2014 | 4:55:55 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll Would this be a big deal for Boingo financially? It certainly would be a nice public relations for them.
Mitch Wagner 3/24/2014 | 4:54:13 PM
Re: Boingo on a roll Steve - "'Gubernatoria' is a funny word, isn't it?"

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor of California, we called him the Gubernator. 
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