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Free Wi-Fi Coming To Atlanta's Airport 135

Posted by timothy
from the terminal-illness dept.
stephendavion (2872091) writes 'Passengers can now access free Wi-Fi at the world's busiest airport. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has dropped its $5 fee to access Wi-Fi in its terminals. "Now, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and airport officials plan to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of the amenity at the airport Wednesday," reports Kelly Yamanouchi of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ... Interm airport manager Miguel Southwell tells Yamanouchi officials believe dropping the Wi-Fi charge will alleviate a "competitive disadvantage" for Hartsfield-Jackson.' I'm puzzled sometimes that so many airports do not yet offer free Wi-Fi, especially ones loaded with businesses (like Starbucks and McDonalds) that have made this a big draw in their non-airport locations. On the other hand, given a captive audience and the temptation for exclusive contracts, maybe I should be grateful that so many do have at least limited free coverage, and that the trend seems positive.
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Free Wi-Fi Coming To Atlanta's Airport

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  • Better use a VPN (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:28AM (#47172125)

    You are being tracked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Mix this with the previous article http://it.slashdot.org/story/1... [slashdot.org]... and voila! You aren't a victim you're a volunteer.
    • by Andrio (2580551)

      I love my VPN service ("Private Internet Access" is the name). ~40 bucks a year and the service is good.

      No, I'm not an advertisement bot, just a happy customer!

      .
      .
      .
      .

      ISPs hate her! See how local mom tripled her internet speed with this one weird trick!

      Has science gone too far?

    • by dkf (304284)

      You are being tracked.

      In an airport, a place with substantive overt security, likely many cameras, and where the government sees passenger manifests before takeoff? Oh noes!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And if you do, make sure you're spoofing everything you can and running your best encryption.

    • Why do you say that? There's nowhere to hide your screen there, so you're going to be watched by analog hole tech.

      • by alen (225700)

        the NSA

        • by cjjjer (530715) <cjjjerNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:01PM (#47172403)

          You realize that there are private companies that collect *way* more information about you than the NSA does and they sell it to whomever wants to buy it.

          Oh wait I forgot this is /.

          Sorry move along...

          • Like who? Most companies that engage in extensive data collection and tracking generally retain the resulting dataset for themselves, never putting it up for sale. For example, Google won't sell you the contents of my email or even my search history, period. Can you name a company that does offer the collected information for sale?
      • Why do you say that? There's nowhere to hide your screen there, so you're going to be watched by analog hole tech.

        That's funny, cuz i set up a hotspot 'free_airport_wifi' and just vacuum up everything that goes through. Good thing people don't bother with VPN due to the analog hole!

        • I really wish somebody would develop the work/home cell phone where it indicates if they're calling you at your work number or sending to your work e-mail address at the company's expense, or home info to reach you at your home numbers. Yeah, work can interrupt you at home... but you should be able to move that call to the other rate plan within one cell phone minute.

          • If work is paying for a cell phone plan, then why have a home plan?
            • Because your work number and contact list goes to your employer when you leave, while the home stuff should be yours.

              • then just get two phones. that way there's no commingling of work information and home information. also you can have whatever home cell phone you want, even though work is giving you a crappy phone.
      • There's nowhere to hide your screen there, so you're going to be watched by analog hole tech.

        Meet the "laptop sock".
        http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ffcH... [blogspot.com]

      • by sjames (1099)

        I thought the analog hole techs were all stationed at the security gates?!?

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Recently, @ ORD in transit, I needed to use WiFi w/ my iPod to use my email to inform colleagues where I was. Google interpreted it as someone trying to break into my account, and forced me to change a password I've had for 10 years. Yahoo! too couldn't be accessed, since the WiFi there was open. They had a touchscreen somewhere, but that had a resistive screen, making it impossible to do any typing for long.
  • by The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:32AM (#47172171)

    Those who keep good records used to get the $5 back from their boss, just charging it to the card they charge the rest of the trip expenses to. Who did this suck for? The kids who were traveling on vacation... yep, WiFi is the entertainment system that keeps you from getting bored at the airport.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Those who keep good records used to get the $5 back from their boss, just charging it to the card they charge the rest of the trip expenses to. Who did this suck for? The kids who were traveling on vacation... yep, WiFi is the entertainment system that keeps you from getting bored at the airport.

      Still billed back to the boss - generally falls under reasonable expenses.

      As for kids - well, they don't NEED WiFi to be entertained. Sure it's easy to stick 'em in front of Netflix or something, but half the time t

    • WiFi is the entertainment system that keeps you from getting bored at the airport.

      Back in my day, if you wanted internet on your laptop, you needed an actual cable long enough to go from your phone jack to your dial-up modem...and somehow, my parents survived!

      • Atlanta's airport used to have lots of vending machines, and lots of Atari-era (which was right for the time) video game machines. Yep, to a kid it was the good parts of the mall. Then, add the newsstand for the out of town adults, and some TVs tuned to CNN.

      • Back in MY day, we didn't have those newfangled computer doohickeys. We had adding machines and slide rules, and we liked them. "Innernet" was where you hoped the fish would go when you went fishing with a net. "Netflix" was what you would do if a bug got on your fishing net . . you "flicks" it off. A "color TV" was a huge thing that took half your living room, and the only thing "color" about it was the color of the cabinet; the picture itself was black and white. We had 3 channels, and we liked them.
  • Puzzled? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:33AM (#47172183) Homepage Journal

    I'm puzzled sometimes that so many airports do not yet offer free Wi-Fi, especially ones loaded with businesses (like Starbucks and McDonalds) that have made this a big draw in their non-airport locations.

    The airport is already a big draw. Nobody is choosing an alternate mode of transportation of driving far out of their way so they can fly out of another airport just because the airport doesn't have free Wi-Fi. If you can afford to do that, you can afford a cellular hotspot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't an issue about going to an airport, for that they are a captive audience, it's about going to a specific airport. Often times you have a choice which airport you connect through. I'm not going to connect through the one with crappy chairs, crappy food, and no free wifi if there is an alternative with better amenities. While it's not true on every flight you have those choices, however it is true on a lot of flights.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        With the mergers going on, expect options to drop. After the mergers they drop redundant connections.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      Also, I've used free airport WiFi, it universally sucks. Absolutely not enough bandwidth.

      I would gladly pay $5 if that's enough to deter 50% of the users, especially if I had business to do.

      I feel the same way about in flight access, the $5.00 on Southwest is practically unusable, but $10.00 on US air seems to be enough to drop usage to the point that it's worth it.

    • Re:Puzzled? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shatrat (855151) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @01:11PM (#47173107)

      This is about "Well, I can layover in Atlanta, or I can layover in Detroit. Atlanta is a pain in the ass to check my email, so let's go through Detroit".

      • by mjwx (966435)

        This is about "Well, I can layover in Atlanta, or I can layover in Detroit. Atlanta is a pain in the ass to check my email, so let's go through Detroit".

        This is why I prefer to go via Singapore than any Australian airport. Not only do you get free WiFi but also a much nicer terminal that has more facilities and is easy to find your way around.

  • There's something odd about a hand-made Big Mac coming out just like the one you get at the hometown location no matter where you are. There's a lot of people making them right now... must be lunchtime.

    • McDonald's is consistent. Consistently bad.

      Don't know how they stay in business, same as _all_ the yum food brands.

      • Excuse me, you're confused... McDonald's is not part of "Yum Brands".

        • Didn't say they were; just that I didn't understand how they or the yum brands stay in business.

          • 1. Food is cheaper than you think some times... if you fund the production seasons, you know where to put it in your pipelines.
            2. Too many people love this stuff, so it sells predictably within tolerances of randomness.
            3. It doesn't take much more than your home cooking to make these things, just a few specialized machines that work better when serving 40 than 4.. get that?
            4. Nobody doesn't like when it's overcrowded there, but if it happens enough new ones spring up!

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529.yahoo@com> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:38AM (#47172207)

    First, in order for airport wi-fi to not-suck, you'll need a massive subnet with a TTL of no more than 30 minutes. Yes, I've been in airports where a /24 subnet was apparently just dandy...

    Second, everyone who's in an airport seems to want to stream Netflix or something like that; I do hope that Netflix throws a peering widget their way, because the thousands of iPads in that airport will strain the pipe pretty efficiently.

    Third, you're on a single collision domain, half-duplex, along with everyone else. 5GHz may help matters, but 2.4 will still be needed for compatibility, and if you're stuck on it, you'll probably get useful speed out of a dial-up optimized RDP session an an SSH window, but the only way regular web browsing is ever worth it is if you have some absurdly early flight (5AM takeoff or similar), at which point 'using my computer' plays second fiddle to the better activity: sleep.

    Sorry, I've just never seen it worth it. I always load up my hard drive before I go, and I've never regretted it.

    The airport: the worst place to be in the cloud.

    • by sribe (304414) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:45AM (#47172271)

      ... but the only way regular web browsing is ever worth it is if you have some absurdly early flight (5AM takeoff or similar)...

      I'm not an expert, I have no idea HTF they do it, but Denver manages to have decent performance even when terminal is jammed full with people sitting on the floor because there's no seats left. I'm sure it costs plenty of money to achieve that, but it certainly proves that it can be done.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:50AM (#47172321) Homepage

        They use segmented AP's designed for heavy use. My company installs Cisco Meraki in arenas that will have 10,000-40,000 people in them and they can handle the load if you set it all up right.

        I am betting Atlanta has Cisco Meraki Installed.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          It baffles me how this is possible. For example: "John Winborn, chief information officer for the Cowboys, said that at the Thanksgiving Day game against Oakland, nearly 19,000 fans at one time were connected to the stadium's Wi-Fi network through cellphones and other mobile devices. Over the course of the game, more than 32,000 fans connected."

          Wifi only has about 10 channels right? So at least a couple thousand devices per channel at one time. A stadium (including seating) is only about 600 feet long

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            It baffles me how this is possible. For example: "John Winborn, chief information officer for the Cowboys, said that at the Thanksgiving Day game against Oakland, nearly 19,000 fans at one time were connected to the stadium's Wi-Fi network through cellphones and other mobile devices. Over the course of the game, more than 32,000 fans connected."
            Wifi only has about 10 channels right? So at least a couple thousand devices per channel at one time. A stadium (including seating) is only about 600 feet long and w

      • by xiux (1035790)
        At work we are considering aruba wireless. We were shown an installation that was handling 11k users at at any point during the day. They said that installation sees 60k unique devices in a week. They would fit a room with 5 or 6 radios to handle 300 people at around 2 to 3 devices each. They do this by turning down the transmit power on each radio, because it's not about coverage but density.
    • First, in order for airport wi-fi to not-suck, you'll need a massive subnet with a TTL of no more than 30 minutes. Yes, I've been in airports where a /24 subnet was apparently just dandy...

      Second, everyone who's in an airport seems to want to stream Netflix or something like that; I do hope that Netflix throws a peering widget their way, because the thousands of iPads in that airport will strain the pipe pretty efficiently.

      Third, you're on a single collision domain, half-duplex, along with everyone else. 5GHz may help matters, but 2.4 will still be needed for compatibility, and if you're stuck on it, you'll probably get useful speed out of a dial-up optimized RDP session an an SSH window, but the only way regular web browsing is ever worth it is if you have some absurdly early flight (5AM takeoff or similar), at which point 'using my computer' plays second fiddle to the better activity: sleep.

      Sorry, I've just never seen it worth it. I always load up my hard drive before I go, and I've never regretted it.

      The airport: the worst place to be in the cloud.

      It's an oversimplification to say that it's a single collision domain. Any decent enterprise wireless network uses overlapping access points that will automatically select and change channels based on automated detection of congestion and interference. Yes, there is always some level of frequency overlap, but that is easily addressed.

      As far as address spacing goes, there's a number of scenarios in which a /24 can be just fine. Perhaps they are backhauling everything to a concentrator that performs NAT on a

  • Hey, what? $5? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeathToBill (601486)

    I can't remember the last time I was in an airport that didn't have free WiFi. But then I don't travel in the USA much.

    • by rwise2112 (648849)

      I can't remember the last time I was in an airport that didn't have free WiFi. But then I don't travel in the USA much.

      This is my experience as well. I've travelled a lot internationally, and have had free WiFi everywhere. The last time I went through the US, I went through Dulles airport, and I think there was free WiFi there.

    • Indeed. Welcome to the 21st century, Atlanta.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a business traveller, I would rather pay, or have some sort of exclusive service.

    Once it's "free", every man and his dog connects and stays connected for hours, and the service is inevitably completely unusable.

    • As a business traveller, I would rather pay, or have some sort of exclusive service.

      Once it's "free", every man and his dog connects and stays connected for hours, and the service is inevitably completely unusable.

      Me too, as long as its reasonable. Charging $7 for me to access the internet for the 20 minutes I'm waiting on the plane is too much, even if its a covered expense. If they charged $1 - $2 for a good connection, I would not hesitate. I always wondered if they'd make more money that way.

    • As a business traveller who isn't going to type his credit card details into a random captive portal that claims to be affiliated with an airport-honest-really-not-a-scam, I welcome free WiFi at airports.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:47AM (#47172297) Homepage

    Not last week when I was sitting there for 4 hours... I am betting my work phone Verizon LTE was faster than their wifi though... Gotta love tethering and making the company pay for it.

    • Yes, your Verizon LTE was faster. I've gotten 80 down / 30 up on Verizon from that airport. So whatever wifi they have won't compete. Tethering is free on my plan.

  • by sribe (304414) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @11:49AM (#47172311)

    It used to be that most airports paid for certain maintenance operations, in particular the cleaning crews, with the revenue from pay phones. That source seriously dried up about the same time that wifi demand rose, and managers saw charging for wifi as an obvious replacement for pay-phone revenue. Now, long term, as people come to regard wifi as a necessary utility like water or bathrooms, that idea is not sustainable. Also, the FCC helps the push toward free wifi by blocking airports managers' attempts to ban airlines and in-terminal concessionnaires from operating their wifi. (Boston fought the FCC over this for a long time.)

    • Is this why airports keep hiking ticket prices, even well past what they'd need to pay for increased fuel costs and still make a profit? Or have they found some other way to subsidize maintenance?

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      It doesn't help that paid wi-fi has a tendency to just cause people to switch to tethering now - which potentially causes performance problems for the paid users.

  • Given the layout of ATL, going from one concourse to another (especially if you go between a civilized airline and Delta) requires a trip to one people-mover that unnecesarily increases the distance. Perhaps they could take a lesson from somewhere like DFW and fix that.

    If I want online access, my phone does it quite well.

  • As far as I remember KCI has always had free Internet wifi. Combined with the fact that we have Google Fiber, it feels like the rest of America is some third world country.

    • As far as I remember KCI has always had free Internet wifi. Combined with the fact that we have Google Fiber, it feels like the rest of America is some third world country.

      I think you mean MCI. KCI is the airport in Kon, Indonesia.

      • I think you mean MCI. KCI is the airport in Kon, Indonesia.

        Nope. I meant to say KCI. Here in Kansas City, we call "Kansas City International" KCI airport. Nobody in Kansas City calls it MCI. Yes, I'm well aware that the official formal designation is MCI as I have flown out of KCI many times.

        • You should embrace the actual code designation. Calling it KCI is just misleading for those who rarely travel through that airport. The fact that there is a KCI is worse than just making a different name entirely.

          • I take it you were one of those kids who would say, "Tomatoes are really fruits," right? :) When I communicate, I try to communicate to be understood, not to be "right". In Kansas City, we call Kansas City International KCI. Nobody is confused, especially in context of talking about Kansas City. Nobody would wonder how I was going to get to Indonesia if I said, "Hey I'm driving down to KCI to fly out to New York." Sometimes it's just better to be a little less pedantic. ;)

        • by mjwx (966435)

          I think you mean MCI. KCI is the airport in Kon, Indonesia.

          Nope. I meant to say KCI. Here in Kansas City, we call "Kansas City International" KCI airport. Nobody in Kansas City calls it MCI. Yes, I'm well aware that the official formal designation is MCI as I have flown out of KCI many times.

          And this is why no-one visits Kansas.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Those exclusivity contracts also apply to business in the airport. Austin apparently signed an exclusivity contract with AT&T for Austin Bergstrom International Airport citing cost and security as the reasons. Business with existing services through other providers such as Time Warner may continue their service but the only provider change allowed is switching to AT&T. Interestingly, business can still order TV from Time Warner but Time Warner is forbidden from adding any data service.

  • How is this wi-fi free if I'm paying for it as part of my ticket price?

    Oh, you meany you won't be charged an additional fee to use it. Got it.

    Still not free, only a bit cheaper to use.

  • They did have a free page or two and access to news and weather, but the greater Internet was blocked off. I've spent many hours in that airport over the years and will probably spend many many more. The money I save on this can go for being crazy and paying for on-plane Wifi instead.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:46PM (#47172797)

    Anyone who scratches their heads at the lack of free wifi in airports is obviously too young to remember pay toilets. Talk about a captive audience. But airports eventually moved away from those. Hopefully pay-wifi will disappear too.

    • by PaddyM (45763)

      I think pay toilets are bad and am thankful of groups which did away with them. However, even though I avoid using WIFI at the airport because I'm cheap and/or have a hotspot, I don't see a competitive reason not to charge for the wifi at the airport. People are not there that long, it's not like we need a bunch of hipsters hanging out at an airport to use the free wifi. I'm not annoyed by hipsters at the neighborhood starbucks, but bringing more people to the busiest airport in the world who might not b

  • I work for a hardware vendor (Fortinet) and we are currently selling our AP infrastructure like hotcakes when we partner with companies like Kiana. Imagine a WiFi sensor network that works like the ad sensors in Minority Report. So when you walk by a retailer using the free wifi and browsing we can inject an ad for a free smoothy or a discount beer (that is the evil side). The good side is that when you enter the airport we have you stored in the MAC database and we can see when you are checking in an in t
  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:52PM (#47172873)
    from my experience I've found San Jose airport has really good wifi. Free, easy to connect, and pretty fast too. Far superior to Google's wifi in Mountain View. And can view whatever websites you want. Frustrating other airports don't do the same (I have used paid services but they are terribly slow), it gets really dry waiting for connecting flights (but then there is the 20th century method of getting smarter by reading a book). Very tempting to get a Ubiquiti Bullet and high gain yagi aimed at SJC airport. But there's considerable distance and many buildings and trees in between, and of course not kosher with their User Agreement.
    • >Very tempting to get a Ubiquiti Bullet and high gain yagi aimed at SJC airport.

      I'm doing that at home. I have a flat roof on my house and I can see the bar from my roof and there's a handy pole supporting the TV antenna. A direct wifi link to the bar, connecting for my fiber internet will let me work from the bar all day.

  • Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is my favorite airport, and this news just made it even better.

    They just opened a Buffalo Wild Wings last September in Terminal/Concourse D. New Belgium Brewery's Fat Tire available (though it was bottle-only last time I was there). There's nothing like a dozen Blazin' (boneless, extra-wet) wings before a long flight to keep things interesting. 45 beers on tap is quite a bit nicer than a "Chilis To Go" or a shitty TGIFridays.

    Smoking lounges. Seven smoking lounge
    • Excellent/efficient airport layout/design

      Try having to go from one concourse to another, then you'll find out that it's not so good.

      As I've said upthread, ATL could learn from DFW on how to do a large airport while minimizing travel between gates.

      • I've had to make transfers in ATL many times, and changing concourses is as easy as catching the 'plane train', which rides a linear track and has departures every 2 minutes. I've also walked the entire length of the underground tunnel that the 'plane train' uses (long layover, why not go for a walk), and I can say that even without the 'plane train' ATL would be nicer than somewhere like LHR.

        I've only transfered at DFW, so I don't feel qualified to say much about it. However, consider that ATL handles a
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is my favorite airport, and this news just made it even better.

      You need to travel to Singapore.

      Singapore Changi is consistently rated as the best airport in the world for very good reasons and something that is pretty odd, it's fairly cheap for an airport. Changi has had free wifi for some time now. The biggest problem with Changi is the taxi times, due to the way the airport was built, the gates are often not near the runway.

      • I'm hoping to embark on a round-the-world trip in 2016, and SIN is very likely to be one of my stops. Looking forward to checking it out.
  • by siphonophore (158996) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @01:37PM (#47173365)

    SJC and the much bigger PHX are the airports I frequent and both do a pretty good job. $5 may not be much to a business traveler, but in a few years we'll look back at it the same way we'd think of a $5 charge to turn the lights on.

  • Atlanta's new wifi install can handle 15,000 connected devices according to the specs they released. Just an FYI if in Atlanta and if you need faster service - Terminal A the Admirals Lounge has free wifi about 150ft out each way from it's entrance, fast enough for Netflix.
  • Wifi hotspots are not really needed anymore. Most everyone has (nearly) unlimited cell data.

  • Meanwhile in the north, we have had Wifi for many years at Toronto's Pearson airport ...

  • (As quoted from a German friend.) And in my small sampling, their airports seem to uphold that motto. And they don't bother you with pathetic forms requiring you to enter your home address (are you listening Heathrow!?!)

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