(Adds port authority decision to approve free Wi-Fi)
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK, June 25 Airports in the New York City
area will soon join others in major U.S. cities that offer free
wireless Internet access, under a plan approved on Wednesday by
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Board of
Under the proposal, customers at John F. Kennedy and
LaGuardia international airports in New York as well as New
Jersey's Newark Liberty International will be allowed 30 minutes
of free Internet, said port authority head Patrick Foye.
As part of the contract with Internet provider Boingo
Wireless, free Internet access would begin as early as
this fall. Customers using Wi-Fi beyond the initial free 30
minutes would be charged a fee.
The board's vote comes at a time when most major airports in
the United States have already switched from paid to free
Internet access for patrons, many of them served by Boingo.
LaGuardia, JFK and Newark are among five major airports in
the United States without free Wi-Fi, according to a report by
the Global Gateway Alliance, a group that lobbies for New York
airport infrastructure improvements. The other two airports are
Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Miami International
The world's 15 busiest airports all offer some free Internet
access, the alliance said in a statement.
"Today's action (will) bring us nearer to par with these
competitors and take our airports a step closer to excellence,"
the group said.
The new agreement revises a contract signed in 1999 with
Boingo, which required patrons at the airport to pay for all
Internet access, the group said.
Boingo will be required to spend $3.8 million to provide
software and hardware to expand access, and strengthen signal
connections and Internet speeds as part of the deal, Foye said.
"When we poll our customers, free Wi-Fi is the amenity that
they most often requested," he said.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Beech)