CES 2024 officially kicks off today, and Boingo Wireless is capitalizing on the situation with a Wi-Fi 7 network at the Las Vegas Monorail Station at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Boingo, which specializes in converged wireless solutions, said it deployed the first-ever pre-certified Wi-Fi 7 network at a public venue. The network, on display during CES at the Boingo Innovation Center, uses the 6 GHz band.
Boingo announced in 2022 that it was partnering with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which owns the Las Vegas Monorail, to operate a wireless network. The monorail station network allows passengers to connect to social media, email, mobile boarding passes and more while at the station.
The Boingo Innovation Center at the monorail station serves as a launch pad to test and demonstrate new technologies, including Wi-Fi 7, the newest generation of Wi-Fi that expands on Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.
Boingo Wireless CEO Mike Finley said the benefits of Wi-Fi 7 are probably well-known by now, including greater bandwidth, higher speed, lower latency and more security.
Boingo got its start in Wi-Fi, so it seems only fitting that it would be up-to-date with the latest and greatest. The Las Vegas deployment uses enterprise-class Wi-Fi 7 access points from Ruckus.
Finley didn’t have an exact number on how many Wi-Fi 7 deployments Boingo expects to do in 2024. However, it appears to be coming sooner than prior generations. “We think this can come faster than maybe some historically because of it being a software upgrade,” he told Fierce.
Convergence all the way
Boingo’s well entrenched in other wireless technologies and said this adds to its other wireless firsts, including launching the first commercial distributed antenna system (DAS) network, the first Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) airport private network and first Wi-Fi 6 network at an airport.
Boingo has largely stayed out of the CBRS-bashing debate that has occurred in recent years. Finley said Boingo is a strong believer in converged, neutral network solutions that deliver the best experiences for end users.
“When you get off a plane or a train, you don’t look at your device to see what network you’re on. You really just care that it works,” he said, noting that customers also care about speed, latency and security. Wi-Fi 7 has some of the same characteristics that the cellular side provides, so they’re increasingly similar.
“We’re working on behalf of our partners, the airports, the train stations, the military bases … to deliver a great experience,” he said. “We still believe bringing it all together makes the most sense for the venues. We don’t think one eliminates another.”
An airport, for example, might want Wi-Fi, DAS and CBRS, but they don’t necessarily want them all in the same place. “Not everybody wants everything all the time,” he said. For passengers, they might want Wi-Fi and DAS in the waiting areas. In baggage handling or for security cameras, they might choose CBRS.
“All the venues we work with, they want a great user experience,” he said. “We’re neutral.”