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Google Gives the Gift of Free Airport Wi-Fi 158

Posted by kdawson
from the no-self-interest-here-no-sir dept.
itwbennett writes "Google is giving you something to be thankful for as you travel this holiday season. The company announced today that it is offering free Wi-Fi at 47 airports across the US between now and January 15. If you haven't booked your flights yet, you want to factor this into your plans. Here's a list of the 47 airports, which cover about 35% of all US passengers, according to Google. The Burbank and Seattle airports will continue to offer the free Google Wi-Fi indefinitely." The HuffPo notes another altruistic note in Google's gesture: "As another way to pass on the spirit of the season, once they log on to networks in any of the participating airports, travelers will have the option [of making] a donation to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation, or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Google will match the donations made across all the networks up to $250,000, and the airport network that generates the highest amount per passenger by January 1, 2010 will receive $15,000 to donate to the local nonprofit of their choice."
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Google Gives the Gift of Free Airport Wi-Fi

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  • Of the two I'll definitely be in during the time frame - the one that already had free wi-fi ( Orlando ) is on the list. The other, the busiest airport in the country, didn't have free wi-fi before and is not on the list. The Sanford/Orlando airport also has free wi-fi but last time I was there it would only let me access Google sites. It was odd but I could get to Google Docs so I didn't care too much.

    What would be really awesome is free wi-fi on aircraft. Although I'd trade that for power in a

    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:45PM (#30054160)

      From TFA:

      In total, the gift will include 47 airports that together handle over 500 million passengers each year, or about 35% of the total number of annual passengers in the U.S. In October, Google and Virgin America announced that, during this same period, all passengers on Virgin America will have free in-flight Wi-Fi. Five of the airports participating in the program are also Virgin America destinations: Boston, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego and Virgin America's newest destination launching November 18, Fort Lauderdale.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrbene (1380531) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:46PM (#30054170)

      What would be really awesome is free wi-fi on aircraft. Although I'd trade that for power in a heartbeat.

      This is already being offered on some planes - AA, Delta, Virgin American, and Airtran all offer Gogo Inflight Internet [gogoinflight.com]. It's surprisingly similar in price to internet at airports, but I doubt that it offers anything particularly speedy.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        I thought wifi was too risky, at least according to the mythbusters, in an airplane because not every wifi card, etc. could be tested?

        Wouldn't it be safer just to offer an ethernet port at every seat?

        • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @01:21AM (#30056490) Homepage

          If a plane can be brought down by a weak 2.4Ghz transmission, we have other *much* more serious issues to consider.

          The planes should be tested against the most powerful transmission equipment that somebody could possibly smuggle on board the aircraft, not the other way around. RF shielding isn't exactly rocket science, and one would hope that any critical circuitry would already be shielded, given the crazy electromagnetic stuff that happens in the upper atmosphere where the planes happen to spend most of their time.

          • by Zebedeu (739988)

            The mythbusters had a program where they tested all kinds of interference in a small aircraft. They couldn't get anything to noticeably affect the flight equipment.

            Of course they ended the program by saying that even though they couldn't prove it, it's still safer to follow the flight regulations and turn off your equipment "just in case". I suspect the FAA would've been pissed if they didn't.

        • by ptbarnett (159784)

          I thought wifi was too risky, at least according to the mythbusters, in an airplane because not every wifi card, etc. could be tested?

          Mythbusters tested mobile phone frequencies.

          Wouldn't it be safer just to offer an ethernet port at every seat?

          Wiring adds weight, and adds up to a lot of fuel for a large fleet of planes over a year.

      • by ptbarnett (159784)

        It's surprisingly similar in price to internet at airports, but I doubt that it offers anything particularly speedy.

        I actually ran a speed test on my iPhone during an AA flight.

        It was about 1.5 megabit/sec down, and 256 kilobit/sec up.

        Clarification: that was down to my phone, but up to the plane.

        I suspect that the plane-to-ground link actually has a higher bandwidth, but individual devices are limited.

    • IND is another airport that already has free WiFi.
      • So is San Jose.

        I guess they couldn't bribe ORD enough. Boingo still rules, if you want to call it that....

        You see, whereas before you couldn't be tracked, Google (see google.com/dashboard) is an expert. The TSA needs experts.

    • If you're on a flight with gogo wireless, there are a bunch of promo codes for free internet..

      FREEINTERNET should work until the end of the year..
      DELTATRYGOGO should work on Delta flights
      AATRYGOGO should work on American Airlines flights

      Gogo is also running a promotion where you can get a code to give out to people and the person with the most people that use their code gets a few free sessions or something like that.

      2287321623nca was the code they gave me; should be good for free in flight wifi until Janua

    • by ncc74656 (45571) *
      I noticed that Las Vegas is also on the list, even though it's had free WiFi for probably at least a couple of years.
      • Several of those airports already had free wifi. I know firsthand that I used free wifi in Orlando (MCO), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Portland (PWM)- I'm sure there are others. Not complaining, but Google should have saved its money for those places or offered wifi somewhere else.

        Not complaining- I'm happy to have internet on all of my layovers this holiday season. :)
    • The last few times I've flown Delta they've had wireless onboard. They want you to pay, but check the in-flight magazine for the promotional password -- it's something like "deltatrygogo". You create a profile, give it the promotional code, and away you go.

      When you fly again you pull the same stunt and give it a different username and email. I used my name, the names of both my cats, and Captain Kirk's middle name the last four times.

      I'm not really trying to advocate wholesale stealing. Really,
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. When Google and Microsoft give away free ad money to test their ad networks, they are effectively inflating the price of how much everyone pays for the ads. It's about as evil as you can get because it is pure evil, like if nobody noticed I'm sure they would do it more but everyone would notice the inflated costs if they did -- so they can only give out a $100/$75 per new account and nobody notices how you end up having to pay for this because you're the ones

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When Google and Microsoft give away free ad money to test their ad networks, they are effectively inflating the price of how much everyone pays for the ads.

      Not really. They charge as much as you are willing to pay. The AdWords/AdSense prices are very low for well made ad campaigns for keywords with little competition but if you want to have the first ad when people search for generic, higly competed keyword (Like poker), you will have to pay like hell because so many others are also willing to pay for that place.

      What google then does with the money only affects it's profit margins. It doesn't inflate the prices.

      How's that for a reason not buy ads from them?

      Regardless of what the company does, I will keep

  • Copying MS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrbene (1380531) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:41PM (#30054122)

    Sounds like Microsoft was doing this already [venturebeat.com] to promote Bing, and that they've snagged O'Hare.

    I'm curious tho - if they're picking up the tab for Boingo and so forth, are they also picking up the user registration information?

    • Re:Copying MS? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:47PM (#30054702) Journal

      Sadly, this is next to useless because it doesn't cover any of the airports you are likely to be flying through. None of the major airline hub cities except Las Vegas and Miami are included on the list. Not DFW, not Atlanta, not Denver, not LAX, not Salt Lake City, not Cincinnati, not Chicago, not JFK.

      Unless you're a complete fool, you probably have a pretty good idea how early to get to the airport to fly, and for most of us, that means printing your boarding pass from home before you leave, and arriving an hour before the plane leaves. That gives you thirty minutes through security, ten minutes in the airport, and then you're gone. There's very little time to use Wi-Fi, though I suppose if my plane were delayed out of San Jose due to maintenance problems, it might be marginally useful.

      Similarly, when you get to your destination, Wi-Fi is the last thing you're thinking about. You're making a beeline for the luggage conveyor (if you checked any), then a beeline for the taxi stand or the pickup area or the car rental place. So although it's nice in theory that I could get free Wi-Fi when I get to Nashville, the fact of the matter is that I won't use it there, either, nor on my return trip.

      The one part of your trip that you're not in control over---the one part of your trip where you actually spend a significant amount of time sitting in the airport twiddling your thumbs---is that three or four hour layover. Statistically speaking, this is almost always going to be in Dallas/Fort-Worth, Atlanta, Chicago, LAX, or Denver---maybe Las Vegas if you are flying from somewhere in the western U.S. to somewhere else in the western U.S., but even then, you're much more likely to go through LAX.

      So it's a nice idea in principal, but in practice, you'd have a hard time picking worse airports in terms of improving things for U.S. passengers. The airports listed are almost never used for connections except maybe puddle jumper biplanes out to Lexington, KY or something. I mean, I guess they could have picked Jackson, TN (MKL), Milan's Linate Airport (LIN), and Air Europa (UX) or something, but....

      • by domino14 (1184971)
        Apparently, you're not as addicted to the Internet as I am. The 10 minutes in between getting to my gate and boarding, and the 15 minutes in between arriving and your luggage appearing on the conveyor belt are prime Internet surfing time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TerraFrost (611855)

        They are providing free wireless for at least one hub - a Continental Airlines hub - Houston Bush [wikipedia.org].

        • by dkf (304284)

          They are providing free wireless for at least one hub - a Continental Airlines hub - Houston Bush [wikipedia.org].

          Memphis is a Delta hub. (Not a bad place to change planes either, though the ceilings are a little low.)

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Most everyone I know flies through DFW, unless they're flying Southwest. I haven't checked the numbers but I would guess DFW does roughly double the air traffic/passengers that Bush does. Very sad to see DFW isn't on that list.

      • by chebucto (992517) *

        I usually arrive early (because of the unknowns - traffic, security, unknown unknowns) and end up waiting a while (baggage). I would (and do, at airports which already provide this (props to YHZ)) use wifi given the opportunity.

      • by cashman73 (855518)
        What they're probably betting on is that more people will use this for non-PC devices, like iPhones and Blackberries with Wi-Fi capability, rather than people popping open their notebooks while waiting for flights. If you have your iPhone handy, it's easy enough to check a few emails quickly while waiting in line, as opposed to waiting for your computer to boot up and all that,...
      • by Headrick (25371)

        In general I agree with your comment but I don't think it's completely foolish to get to the airport early and a number of people (like me) live in one of the covered airports and will be traveling soon. I tend to arrive at the airport a couple hours early, get through security, and find a decent place to have a meal and a drink or two. I'm much less stressed and will enjoy the free wifi.

        So yeah, maybe it's a bit of grandstanding but it's not useless for many thousands of people.

        • and find a decent place to have a meal and a drink or two

          You have an airport that has a decent place to have a meal? There seems to be only 3 types of restaurants in any airport I've been to A) expensive but decent food B) fast food that is expensive and doesn't have half the menu options C) "real" restaurants that manage to kill everything by being in an airport. For example, I ate at a steakhouse (I think it was Outback but I'm not certain) where the food was good and wasn't much overpriced compared to the restaurant outside of the airport but how the heck ar

          • by dkf (304284)

            For example, I ate at a steakhouse (I think it was Outback but I'm not certain) where the food was good and wasn't much overpriced compared to the restaurant outside of the airport but how the heck are you supposed to eat a steak with plastic utensils?

            It varies by airport. Some have the security check at the gate (or at least after most of the food vendors) so they offer better service in the restaurants. OTOH, the airports gouge the restaurants for rents, so expect prices to be higher anyway.

      • Obviously you live somewhere warm. Up north you show up to the airport an hour before your flight and wait three hours while they deice the planes.

      • by Neoro (1473253)

        Last few times I was in Denver they already have free WiFi

  • PDX not on the list (Score:5, Informative)

    by bobcat7677 (561727) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:41PM (#30054124) Homepage
    Portland, OR is not on the list...but then that's probably because travelers through PDX already enjoy free wi-fi courtesy of the Port of Portland and have for several years now. Now tell me again why other airports don't extend this courtesy already?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because they want to charge for it and make money from the service, duh.

      • by GIL_Dude (850471)
        Or, where they don't want to manage it themselves or deal with a subcontractor they are more than willing to sell the franchise rights to some other operator like a Boingo, etc. Less work for the airport - just money to receive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BearRanger (945122)

      Several airports on the list also offer free wi-fi. (Charlotte, NC; Orlando, FL; and I think Pittsburgh, PA come to mind) I just assumed that in these airports Google is picking up the cost of providing the service for the duration of their promotion. But good on PDX to hold the line and stick to their principles. Having flown through there a lot myself I can say firsthand that it's a darned good airport.

      • by sconeu (64226)

        I thought IAH (Houston/Bush) already had free WiFi. I seem to recall using it a few years back last time I had a connection there.

      • by cashman73 (855518)
        I certainly hope this doesn't mean that, after the promotional period, the PIT airport will start charging for access. I like having free wi-fi while waiting for outbound flights here,... I fly to PHX a lot, too, and they have free wi-fi as well at Sky Harbor -- though they're not on the Google list.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Because then Portlanders wouldn't be able to make irritatingly smug forum postings?

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      Portland, OR is not on the list...but then that's probably because travelers through PDX already enjoy free wi-fi courtesy of the Port of Portland and have for several years now. Now tell me again why other airports don't extend this courtesy already?

      As someone that works at an airport (and provides free Wi-Fi), I'll tell you precisely why more don't offer it: money. I work at a smaller airport where the cost of providing the service is low, but at larger airports, the cost of bandwidth and hardware is significant. Pittsburgh and McCarran in Las Vegas offered it as an incentive to pull in fliers, but the cost issue is a double edged sword at airports. With the state of the air travel industry being so bad, not only do airports not want to foot the bill

  • Why is this news (Score:2, Insightful)

    I was just in the Incheon airport and not only do they have free wifi throughout the terminal, but many internet PCs freely available for anyone to use. I guess the real news here is that someone passed up on an opportunity to charge $2/hr or whatever for wifi in this country.

    • That is South Korea - a country where you can get a 100Mbps uncapped connection for $50 virtually everywhere. That free wifi costs them pennies, literally.

      Then again, Incheon International airport is one of the most impressive ones that I've seen in many aspects.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by vsage3 (718267)
      Is this a surprise? None of the nation's biggest airports are on there because they're all locked into various Wi-Fi carriers like Boingo that charge $7-10 for a day pass.
  • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:46PM (#30054172) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure Ohare and NY airports aren't on this list because they're too big, or already have options (Someone mentioned that PDX has free wifi courtesy of the airport itself).

    This is a nice gesture of goodwill from Google... I wonder how much it costs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arevos (659374)

      This is a nice gesture of goodwill from Google... I wonder how much it costs.

      Goodwill? Well maybe, but I suspect that they'll also be storing all that lovely user data about people's surfing habits. Airports have a lot of different passengers going through each day, so they'd get a good cross-section of the population. Also, as network traffic on airport wifis is predominantly from personal laptops, perhaps there will be less clickbots/spambots to screw up Google's statistics. They could also tailor their advertisements more effectively, showing people ads for local businesses in an

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As if Google doesn't have enough user data already. It's for "goodwill" in the sense that it's good advertising for them.

    • or CBN - CowboyNeil!
    • by bwcbwc (601780)

      Don't think it's a question of just size. Google's got most of Florida, including Miami and Orlando. And US Air's hub in Charlotte. But no DFW, ORD, NYC, or any of the other big hubs. Still, they've got all three airports in my general area, so I'm covered for at least my outbound leg.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      This is a nice gesture of goodwill from Google... I wonder how much it costs.

      Goodwill my ass. They're only doing it because Microsoft announced a similar program. Of course, Slashdot wouldn't report that...

      • Ever think it's because Google's marketing department knows how to get the word out more effectively at the right target audience?

  • Somehow freaking El Paso made it on the list, and TWO Houston airports....but not Dallas/Fort-Worth, which is easily the biggest airport in the state and the 4th busiest airport in the nation. What the crap, Google?
  • The HuffPo? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Morris Thorpe (762715) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:49PM (#30054200)

    Today on SlaDo: Comments about the HuffPo report that The Goo giving free WiFi at the 'port.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:55PM (#30054244)

    It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Let's all say it together - HuffPo. HuffPo.

    Actually, I guess it doesn't really. What it DOES sound like is something that'd get a movie an X rating.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bwcbwc (601780)

      No, it's the spoonerism of HuffPo that would give you the X rating...PuffHo?

  • So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:58PM (#30054264) Journal
    Did google find themselves in need of a representative sample of travellers' network activity? Or some general positive buzz?
  • To "the season" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @08:58PM (#30054266)

    Fuck the season

    Fuck the horse (or "raindear") it rode in on.

    And fuck the "spirit" of whatever the hell makes you feel all twingly inside and more "giving"

    You are either a good person or an asshole, regardless of the time of the year.

  • Eppley in Omaha (world's cleanest airport, or so says the urinal, and I've not seen a cleaner airport yet) always has free WiFi. I see that Microsoft has sponsored MDW and DEN, which would be of use to me had I not already taken care of all my immediate business there.
  • Chose LAX *bzzz* Chose Virgin *ding* Chose JFK *bzzz* one of three ain't bad, must have wifi at JFK to get some work done on my 5 hour layover to the UAE. Its New York, I don't expect them to "do free" and I will be stuck paying for that part. hey, will take the free in-flight wi-fi...
  • Pittsburgh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Pittsburgh already has free WiFi. What exactly are they offering us?
  • I guess google will be keeping track of what all those holiday shoppers/travelers are googling? This is so much better than doing marketing research the old way ... Not that I'm a skeptic ... but I believe there is an evil, ulterior motive.
  • by KPexEA (1030982)
    Has been for a while now.
  • Train stations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tirerim (1108567) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:43PM (#30054632)
    Great. Now how about some train stations to go with those airports? Boston South Station, New York Penn Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, and Washington Union Station would be a good start. Add Chicago Union Station and Los Angeles Union Station for those outside the Northeast Corridor.
    • Great. Now how about some train stations to go with those airports? Boston South Station, New York Penn Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, and Washington Union Station would be a good start. Add Chicago Union Station and Los Angeles Union Station for those outside the Northeast Corridor.

      Do train stations make you show up two hours early to get a front-row seat at the security theater, and then have you wait around for six hours because your train was delayed?

      No?

      Then why do you care?

    • by Temposs (787432)

      Chicago Union Station actually does have free wifi (though it's pretty weak in the terminal area). For that matter, the Champaign-Urbana train station also has free wifi :-)

  • Since this is google, they must have figured out a way to monetize this free offer. Are they going to profiling network usage? All HTTP requests?

    Then again, they could have figured out that the good publicity was worth the cost.

  • If you haven't booked your flights yet, you want to factor this into your plans.

    Sure I've have a week in South Africa in the national parks and game reserves and another in a luxury resort in Indonesia but I'm tempted to chuck the whole thing in for some free wi-fi.

    • Hilarious. You've taken a comment obviously relating to either domestic US flights, or flights through the US, and taken them completely out of context. Of COURSE the author meant you should travel via the US when travelling UK > Dubai > Australia.

      Mod parent down.
      • Hilarious. You've taken a comment obviously relating to either domestic US flights, or flights through the US, and taken them completely out of context.

        My statement was clearly exaggerated for effect. The point, that the availability of free wifi at an airport is not likely to be a serious consideration in someones travel plans, is not unreasonable.

  • Okay, maybe I'm too old now and I need to turn in my geek card, but honestly...

    Dec 24, 10:14 AM:
    "Hey dad! I know I was going to fly out of Islip and save you driving into the city to drop me off, but I'm departing from La Guardia instead. They've got free wifi!"

    Dec 24, 11:48 AM:
    "WTB Run from Brookhaven to La Guardia. Paying well! Also, WTB Rectal Boot Retraction kit."

  • Fort Lauderdale has had free wifi for a long time, let's give them some credit along with Burbank...
    FTL FTW!

  • On a recent trip abroad I found that

    Helsinki airport has free wifi
    Nagoya airport has free wifi
    Seoul airport has free wifi

    Yet all the London airports back home only give you paid wifi. I'm sure they make plenty enough money to provide free wifi the bloody cheapskates.

  • Kansas City International Airport has had free wifi for a couple of years now.

  • You know someone at google was snickering at giving free WiFi to MSN....
  • And look, it says here I can even donate to "Social Engineers Without Borders". How nice! Thanks a lot, "Googgle"!

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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