Boingo rolls out NFV for Wi-Fi at 5 U.S. airports

LAS VEGAS--Boingo Wireless said it has installed Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technology at five airports in the United States. The company said it has completed the installation of NFV technology in the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, and is working to complete the installation of the technology in two other airports.

Boingo said it plans to roll out NFV technology to additional locations in the future as a way to manage increasing user traffic. NFV is a network architecture concept that helps to virtualize network functions, thereby allowing operators to more easily manage their networks without installing new hardware.

Derek Peterson, Boingo's CTO, explained that NFV technology will help Boingo provide different levels of service to both its Wi-Fi roaming partners and to its end users. Importantly, he said that the technology will help Boingo meet the quality-of-service requirements of its roaming partners, including wireless carriers.

Peterson said the rollout of NFV is part of Boingo's S.M.A.R.T network design effort, which the company announced in September last year. S.M.A.R.T stands for Secure, Multiplatform, Analytics-Driven, Responsive and Tiered; the company said it "reimagines public Wi-Fi from the ground up based on usage data that identified multiple classes of users with significantly different connection and usage profiles." Via S.M.A.R.T, Boingo can offer different tiers of service to different users and customers, and can dynamically manage user traffic.

Boingo is working to deploy its S.M.A.R.T network design throughout its Wi-Fi footprint.

Peterson explained that Boingo's move to NFV and S.M.A.R.T is a reflection of the maturation of the Wi-Fi market. He said the growing demand among users for Wi-Fi access--coupled with wireless and cable operators' increasing interest in providing their own Wi-Fi services, partially through roaming agreements with Boingo--is pushing Boingo to more actively manage its network. Indeed, Peterson said many of the techniques and technologies Boingo is using to manage its network were first designed for traffic management in cellular networks.

Boingo offers Wi-Fi at more than 75 airports, representing more than 40 percent of the world's top 50 airports, including Chicago's O'Hare International, Los Angeles International, New York's John F. Kennedy and Miami International. The company also manages Distributed Antenna Systems for wireless carriers. And it is working to offer Wi-Fi roaming services to wireless carriers and cable operators--already Boingo said it has signed Wi-Fi roaming agreements with three of the top four wireless carriers in the United States. The company has declined to name its wireless carrier roaming partners. Other Boingo Wi-Fi roaming partners including Time Warner Cable.

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