Free wireless Internet will be available at Los Angeles International Airport next month, even though city council members today denounced the airport’s process for obtaining the WiFi contract.
Councilman Joe Buscaino prompted the review of the Advanced Wireless Group contract after it was approved the Board of Airport Commissioners. Another provider, Los Angeles-based Boingo, could provide the airport with a better financial deal, Buscaino said.
“Can you imagine the city of Detroit needing a police car and not asking Ford or General Motors for a price?” he said.
The airport’s current Internet provider, T-Mobile, charges passengers $9.99 per session, which provides LAX with $1 million a year in revenue. However, T-Mobile will end its service on July 15, and airport officials testified that Advanced Wireless Group will provide a seamless transition between the two services. Ultimately, airport officials will sign with a company willing to make $20 million in upgrades to LAX’s infrastructure to provide a more reliable network. It will take at least two years to get a company in place.
The contract with Advanced Wireless Group did not go through a competitive bid.
“This process stinks, folks,” said Councilman Richard Alarcon.
The city council voted 11-1 to move ahead with the contract, noting that they do not want passengers to be without any Internet provider. Buscaino was the dissenting vote, with Council members Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti and Mitch Englander absent.
LAX will receive $633,000 in revenue under the two-year agreement. The switch from T-Mobile to free WiFi will take place on July 16.