Who’s On Tap
Ezra Hug, Boingo Wireless Director of Strategic Partnerships
1. What’s the latest news from Boingo?
A lot of folks know Boingo as the “airport Wi-Fi people,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve been growing and innovating across licensed and unlicensed spectrum technologies, and have grown our footprint to more than 1 million locations serving more than 1 billion people across the globe, including sports and entertainment venues, military bases, commercial real estate locations and, yes, more than 50 of the highest traffic airports in the world. We also offer brands like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Bank of America, HBO, Volvo and Perrier-Jouet the largest Wi-Fi advertising network in the world.
In just the last year, we’ve:
- Celebrated our best year ever for cellular Distributed Antenna System contracts
- Continued to advocate for Passpoint Wi-Fi adoption, which makes Wi-Fi as automatic, fast and secure as home Wi-Fi. We were awarded the honors of “Best Wi-Fi Network Operator” and “Most Innovative Wireless Service” for our Passpoint efforts and our major offload deployment with Sprint.
- Launched some of the most advanced stadium wireless networks in the world, for universities like K-State and major league venues like Philips Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks
- Expanded our military services to more bases and barracks, and won an “Best Wi-Fi Service for Vertical Markets” (Military) award for our innovative services. Our services are now available to more than 250,000 enlisted military.
And those are just some of the “greatest hits.”
2. How has the wireless industry changed in the past 3-5 years?
The wireless industry has changed enormously over the past 3-5 years – which in wireless is an eon! There is far too much change to cover in this Q&A, but I think that the trends can be summarized as acceleration, convergence and increased cooperation.
We’ve seen consumer data demand continue to exponentially increase, with accelerating consumption of mobile video. Cisco’s VNI estimates that 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2020. That’s a huge amount of data hitting networks. And consumers expect truly frictionless delivery of their content. On-demand content is just part of everyone’s everyday life now. In response to this data deluge, we’ve seen increasing wireless convergence and cooperation between industry organizations and companies in the last few years. Our venue and carrier partners are seeing that a “one network fits all” solution really isn’t a reality, and that customers want a simple, fast connected experience. As a result, we’re building networks that incorporate the most advanced licensed and unlicensed technologies, and working with carriers to give them access to our DAS networks. We’ve also helped carriers and device manufacturers integrate Passpoint standards into their devices and services, to ensure that their customers enjoy the best possible connected experience.
3. What is the biggest challenge facing the wireless industry today into tomorrow?
Well, accelerating consumption and technical convergence are certainly big challenges that industry leaders and innovators like us deal with every day! I’d say these macro trends are both the biggest challenges and opportunities that the wireless industry is facing today.
4. How is Boingo helping to solve these problems?
Boingo is at the forefront of wireless innovation on a number of fronts. Because we’re technology agnostic and experienced with the most leading edge licensed and unlicensed technologies, we’re developing new ways to deploy, operate and manage comprehensive, complimentary networks in large scale venues. We’re very proud of our innovations and believe that they’ll provide models for indoor and outdoor network deployments in the years to come. All of our networks are “future-proofed,” or built to scale with the venue’s changing needs, and the changing consumption patterns of their customers.
Beyond our varied deployments, we’re proud to lead standards development efforts with a number of industry organizations. We’ve been heavily involved in the development of Passpoint protocols since their inception more than four years ago, and launched the first commercial Passpoint network, as well as the first major Passpoint roaming partnerships with Time Warner Cable and Sprint.
Today, we continue to be very involved in the WBA, but we’re also proud members of the PCIA’s HetNet’s Forum, the Consumer Technology Association, and the new MulteFire Alliance, which is committed to advancing LTE-based technology operating solely on unlicensed spectrum.
5. What are you excited about in the second half of 2016?
The opportunities for collaboration in an effort to develop more powerful, complementary network technologies are huge, and really exciting. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with our carrier and venue partners, and with the standards groups through our tech leaders.
The WBA is also projecting that in the next couple of years (by 2018), nearly 90% of wireless operators surveyed will have a Passpoint-compliant network live, and 82% of smartphones will have native Passpoint support (up from 18% in 2015). That’s a whole lot more people who will be connecting to fast, automatic and secure Wi-Fi without taking any special action.
It’s a really pivotal moment to be in the wireless industry, and we’re excited to be driving change and better connected experiences worldwide.