Boingo records another strong quarter for DAS venues, ending Q1 with 10,500 nodes in backlog

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Boingo, which got it start at airports, now considers itself the largest indoor DAS provider.

Boingo Wireless, which prides itself on being the largest provider of indoor distributed antenna system (DAS) networks in the world, in the first quarter added 17 new DAS venues, including five Hawaiian airports, the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco and nine PATH stations in New York.

The company ended the quarter with more than 19,800 nodes live and another 10,500 nodes in backlog, marking the second largest venue acquisition quarter in its history after the record-setting fourth quarter.

Boingo CEO David Hagan told analysts that the venue segment tends to be “lumpy”—so don’t expect to see 17 new venues added every quarter—but the company is optimistic about its growth potential.

The DAS industry, driven by the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 8% over the next five years, reaching $11 billion by 2022, according to Foresight Research.   

Asked if he’s seen any uptick in terms of competition for venues, Hagan said he hasn’t noticed any change. Depending on the type of venue and in what market it’s in, the competitive set changes a bit.

“We're always a little bit surprised who may show up,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “It could be a carrier, it could be a tower co., it could be one of the other small cell companies, and then there are a whole host of nonbranded system integrator types out there. So, we haven't noticed any difference there.”

But Boingo does expect to see change due to the unlimited plans that the big four wireless operators are offering.

“Unlimited plans, we think are a very strong boost overall to our business and that is going to drive greater data demand on the cellular networks and that means they may need more densification in the venues where we have wireless rights,” he said. “We view the unlimited plans as of a great boost for our business.”

Boingo also provides Wi-Fi offload services to wireless operators and reported making “excellent progress” during the first quarter. The number of Passpoint-enabled devices with the ability to connect to its network more than doubled during the quarter.

The company’s work with Sprint is well-known, but it’s still not naming the second carrier it added for carrier offload. Sources have told FierceWireless that the second operator is likely AT&T.

RELATED: AT&T likely offloading some cellular traffic to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots: sources

Hagan said that Boingo has been working closely with its second and larger Tier 1 carrier to roll out carrier offload across its owned and operated footprint for several months now and has been making “excellent progress.”  

The real catalyst for offload volume occurs when Passpoint is built into the device profile so that the connection is seamless for the end user and it reverts to Boingo’s Wi-Fi. Hagan said carrier No. 2 has pushed out more than 50 million Passpoint profiles via the iOS 10.3 in the first quarter and users are the process of doing the update, so traffic continues to ramp on five airport locations. Passpoint for Android is scheduled to be rolled out in the second half of 2017 by this carrier.

“Incredibly already 63% of devices in these airports are being connected via Passpoint and that's not even with carrier number two fully deployed across its handset base,” he said.

Another area of growth is small cells, and Boingo continues to see interest from carriers looking to augment coverage in venues where DAS doesn't make financial sense. The company is in active discussions with all four major carriers for small cell projects, and some of those include military bases.