In what’s believed to be the first airport-wide Wi-Fi 6 network deployment, Boingo Wireless teamed up with the São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) to provide passengers with access to the most recent generation of Wi-Fi.
The airport is up and running, and with Covid, travelers are spending more time at airports than previously, so having the Wi-Fi 6 network provides the best connected experience, according to Marcos Ferraz, VP of International at Boingo. Wi-Fi 6 uses the most advanced 802.11ax Wi-Fi technology.
Boingo, which bills itself as the largest airport Wi-Fi provider in the Americas, has a large presence in Latin America, with service in more than 50 airports in Brazil.
The GRU happens to be one of the busiest, serving the city of São Paulo with a passenger capacity of 50.5 million per year. (For comparison, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, handled about 110.53 million passengers in 2019.)
While Boingo has deals with major telecom operators such as AT&T, Claro and Oi, subscribers of other carriers who are traveling through the airport can also access the Wi-Fi network. The Wi-Fi 6 network is compatible with earlier versions of Wi-Fi, so those who don't have Wi-Fi 6 in their devices can still use it. It’s Passpoint-enabled, which means it conforms to HotSpot 2.0 specifications for security and roaming.
The project took a couple of months, and it’s working as expected, Ferraz said. “It shows that we are pioneers,” he said. “We are very happy with the results.”
According to Boingo, GRU’s airport-wide Wi-Fi 6 launch adds to a number of firsts for the company. In 2019, Boingo deployed the first known Wi-Fi 6 network at an airport, John Wayne Airport (SNA) in the U.S., supporting back-of-house operations in SNA’s administration building. Over its 20-year history, the company has also deployed firsts that include the first commercial DAS network, first Passpoint network, and first CBRS network at a major airport.
Mum on strategic transaction
However, the company is not talking when it comes to a possible strategic sale of assets.
During Boingo’s second-quarter conference call in August, CFO Peter Hovenier said the company was continuing to engage with “multiple interested parties” regarding a potential strategic transaction as was previously announced, and it wasn’t providing any forward-looking financial guidance as a result.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Boingo was exploring options and handling potential offers with the help of an advisor. On its fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call in March, the company confirmed that it had received multiple inquiries for a potential sale or other strategic transaction. Analysts said a large tower company or infrastructure-focused private equity firm might be interested.