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With LAX's new paid Wi-Fi, you'll pay $5.95 for fast service and $5.95 for much faster service

LAX has announced the rates for its upcoming pay-for-faster-Internet service, and the two levels of service -- one at 10 megabits per second and one twice as fast -- will cost exactly the same.

For now.

The LAX Wi-Fi modernization project, whose completion date hasn’t been announced (nor its start date, for that matter), is aimed at improving free and paid speeds at the international airport.

Until then, visitors are stuck with a system whose free service is capped at a sluggish 1.2 mbps, which allows little more than checking email.

With the new system, the free service is expected to increase to as fast as 5 mbps, good for streaming a movie most of the time.

How fast is fast enough? A guide to Internet speed--and why it matters to travelers

Paid speeds at LAX also are expected to improve, increasing from the current 6 mbps or so to as fast as 20 mbps.

That's good news for business travelers seeking to run many bandwidth-heavy applications simultaneously. Leisure travelers also may appreciate faster download speeds, which will be speedy enough to allow a last-minute movie download.

The upgrade in speed comes at a price, of course.

At first, both premium options will cost the same: A two-hour session will cost $5.95; 24 hours of access will be $7.95.

The identical pricing for the two tiers is probably only a short-time deal, an LAX spokeswoman suggested, saying costs could change within the next year. 

If that is too rich for your budget, travelers can also buy a monthly pass from Boingo, the L.A.-based company administering the LAX Internet, for $4.95 for the first month, and $9.95 after that.

The monthly pass can be used at more than 1 million public locations, including Chicago O'HarePhoenix Sky Harbor and New York's JFK airports

LAX wants to profit from its Wi-Fi- -- it predicts it will clear at least $5.9 million during its recently approved seven-year contract with Boingo -- but many other airports, including San FranciscoDallas/Fort Worth and Hartsfield–Jackson in Atlanta, offer only free Internet.

"Wi-Fi is a utility," Doug Yakel, a spokesman for SFO, said in an email. "Passengers expect it for free, like bathrooms."

SFO's Internet is slower than LAX's proposed new system -- it tops off at slightly more than 3 mbps -- but other airports offer much faster Wi-Fi for free.

How will LAX's new Wi-Fi stack up against other airports'?

Seattle-Tacoma Internation Airport, for example, is spending $9.8 million to upgrade its network, and a spokesman said some areas already have free speeds of up to 20 mbps.

In Dallas, travelers regularly report free speeds greater than 10 mbps, an airport spokesman said. 

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