LAX approves contract to upgrade airport Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi speed at LAX should soon increase from 1.2 megabits per second to 5 megabits

Travelers flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport should soon get free wireless speeds that would be four times faster than the current service in the terminals.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted Thursday to award a $5.9-million contract to Boingo Wireless Inc. to upgrade, manage and operate the Wi-Fi network at the airport.

The contract still needs the approval of the Los Angeles City Council. Airport officials say the upgraded service can begin within 45 days.

Under the contract, Los Angeles-based Boingo will upgrade its existing system to increase free Internet speeds from 1.2 megabits per second to 5 megabits per second. Travelers who are willing to pay a fee can connect to the Internet at speeds of up to 10 megabits per second and 20 megabits per second.

(Home Internet speeds offered by cable companies range from 50 megabits per second to 300 megabits per second.)

Travelers who use the free Internet are limited to 45 minutes and must first see ads or video commercials to help pay for the service. For the 10-megabit and 20-megabit speeds, the airport will charge fees starting at $5.95 for two hours of Wi-Fi access and $7.95 for 24 hours of access. The airport has yet to announce the prices for the higher speeds.

Boingo subscription holders get automatic access to the premium speed Internet without having to see advertising

The airport estimates that 30% of its 35 million departing travelers now use the free Wi-Fi.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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