Boingo serves up broadband for U.S. military

Boingo Wireless, well-known as a provider of distributed antenna systems (DAS) and Wi-Fi, is also in the business of serving the U.S. military with Internet and IPTV services.

The company over the past year or so has been designing and constructing network gear for dozens of Air Force, Army and Marine Corps bases around the world. The company believes there's pent-up demand for its broadband service, and it's ready to cater to the unique needs of enlisted men and women.

Members of the military are often stationed temporarily at one base and transferred to another. In between stations, they can use Boingo's network when they're in transit, and when they reach their destination, if they're a Boingo customer, they don't have to sign up with a whole new provider because they're already covered under the Boingo agreement.

"It's a very different business for us," said Christian Gunning, Boingo vice president of corporate communications. "The portability between bases is an advantage." In addition, there are no long-term contracts to sign; arrangements may be made for month-to-month service.

When soldiers go home for Thanksgiving, for example, they may be able to use the Boingo hotspots when they leave the base and access them as they travel. It's designed to be simple so that once an account is established, the service member can quickly get online.

While it may be a competitive offering to the cable companies in some areas, Boingo's service also may be the only option in some of the more remote places, Gunning said.

On bases where Boingo service is available, troops can get basic Internet with a data transfer speed of 128 kilobits per second, as well as TV services with local channels, for free, the Navy Times reports. They also have the option to pay to upgrade to faster speeds and more channels.

Boingo Broadband offers more than 100 channels of programming, including HDTV and premium channels, at packages starting at $29.95 per month. Customers can watch on their TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone, wherever there's a Boingo hotspot on the base, although not all channels are available in all areas. Boingo Broadband promises up to 30 Mbps download speeds and up to 20 Mbps upload speeds.

Boingo's contract with the U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fit & Exchange Services Division authorized Boingo to install wireless infrastructure and provide recreational broadband Internet and live TV at Marine Corps bases around the globe. Initial deployments included all Marine Corps bases within the United States as well as two bases in Japan, the first international bases to offer Boingo Broadband services.

The company, which has established itself in the DAS and Wi-Fi space, had a little help in the military arena via its purchase of Endeka in February 2013. With that acquisition, Boingo acquired the expertise that Endeka had developed in catering its Wi-Fi, VoIP and IPTV services to military bases and federal law enforcement training facilities.

During the company's second-quarter conference call, Boingo CEO David Hagan said the company had deployed about $15 million out of the $25 million it expects to deploy this year on the military market. The company at that time had about 400 people on 30 bases doing network deployments. Executives also said the uptake rates they were seeing on bases where the company had deployed services exceeded their expectations.

Some Army and Air Force barracks have had Wi-Fi, but most were wired connections, according to the Navy Times. The Marine Corps has provided Wi-Fi and cable in barracks common areas or recreation rooms, with Wi-Fi and wired hookups for individual rooms varying by base. The Navy Exchange Service Command has provided Wi-Fi in bachelor quarters on Navy bases since 2011 through contractor Net Near U, a spokeswoman told the Times.

At Fort Gordon, Ga., for example, service previously was provided by American Warrior Networks, but officials there expect service members will find Boingo to be an improvement, including its speed, according to the The Signal.

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