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LAX's Wi-Fi and cellphone speeds are among the slowest in the nation, study finds

LAX's Wi-Fi and cellphone speeds are among the slowest in the nation, study finds
A passenger at Los Angeles International Airport charges her cellphone. A study ranked LAX cellular and Wi-Fi speeds among the nation's slowest. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Anyone who has been stuck waiting for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport knows that connecting to the Internet can make a long delay somewhat tolerable.

But a new study released last week found that wireless and cellular speeds at LAX are among the slowest of any major airport in the country.

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Seattle-based technology company Ookla gauged the speeds of the four largest carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — as well as the airport-provided Wi-Fi at each of the nation's top 20 busiest airports.

When it comes to connecting to cellular service, LAX had the slowest speeds of all airports except for New York's LaGuardia Airport, according to the study.

The download cellular speed at LAX was an average of 8 megabits per second, the study found. That is a stark contrast to the fastest cellular speeds of about 45 Mbps at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

As for the free wireless Internet provided at LAX, it ranks 12th among the 20 biggest airports, behind the airports in Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth. The average download speed at LAX was about 12 Mbps, compared with more than 60 Mbps at Denver International Airport, which ranked as the fastest.

Justin Erbacci, chief technology officer at Los Angeles World Airports, said the airport's Wi-Fi provider is adding access points throughout the terminals to make connecting faster. He said his agency is also working with cellular carriers to improve their speeds at the airport.

"We understand how important Wi-Fi and cellular service is to our guests," he said. "We are listening to them and have heard their message loud and clear."

LAX's Wi-Fi is free in increments of 45 minutes, with faster speeds offered for $4.95 an hour or $7.95 for 24 hours.

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