TRAVELLERS? TECHNOLOGY: WiFi flies free at Oakland
Los Angeles-based FreeFi Networks has launched a free WiFi service at California’s Oakland International. It’s a move that will be welcomed by every business traveller who has ever wrestled with complex sign-up procedures and paid through the nose tor a few minutes of wireless Internet time while passing through an airport.
The launch marks the company’s second deployment at a major US airport this year. In January it teamed with Denver International to replace daily-fee Internet access with a free service. “After working with us for less than a year, Denver International has become the world’s largest free WiFi airport and is exceeding the revenue it made in previous years with its paid service,” says FreeFi managing director Richard Bogen. “We expect Oakland to achieve the same level of success.”
At the beginning of last month the Port of Oakland, owner and operator of Oakland International, awarded FreeFi a multi-year contract to operate the latest service. The company’s advertising-based revenue model benefits both the airport and travellers using the service, according to Bogen. Current advertisers include Microsoft, Toyota, Verizon, American Express, Holiday Inn, Ford and Toshiba.
Airports are the perfect environment for advertiser-supported Internet access, says Bogen. “Travellers like WiFi but don’t like paying for it. Our sponsors take care of that, but with a much higher return on investment than they get from signage and other forms of airport advertising. We unobtrusively provide marketeers with significantly longer exposure to the target audience.”
FreeFi has developed an information and entertainment platform that will soon be extended beyond free Internet access, Bogen says. The company plans to offer users other free and paid content, including games from Real Networks and Disney films, and to open up in more airports and other public space across the USA.