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Sprint extends airport Wi-Fi access

The carrier's deal with Concourse Communications Group will give PCS wireless customers access to Wi-Fi networks at several major U.S. airports.

Sprint announced Tuesday that it signed an agreement with Concourse Communications Group to provide its PCS wireless customers with access to Wi-Fi networks at several major U.S. airports.

Under the terms of the deal, customers of Sprint's PCS Wi-Fi Access service will be able to use hot spots controlled by Concourse at New York's LaGuardia Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The companies said they plan to offer PCS Wi-Fi customers use of Concourse networks at Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, New York's JFK Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, in early 2004.

Wi-Fi networks provide wireless connectivity to the Internet, e-mail and corporate applications, via mobile devices such as cell phones, pagers and laptop computers. The Sprint and Concourse Wi-Fi systems use 802.11b technology to help link customers to their networks. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, first launched its PCS Wi-Fi Access service in September.

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The announcements follow similar deals struck by Sprint with Wi-Fi specialists Airpath Wireless, Cometa Networks and Wayport to provide Wi-Fi access at airports. Sprint also reported that it has begun delivering Wi-Fi services at Kansas City International Airport through the first airport-based system owned and operated by Sprint. The company said it expects to offer customers access to Wi-Fi services at 2,100 locations by early 2004.

Sprint said its research indicates that airport hot spots, or wireless network access points, are among the fastest-growing Wi-Fi centers for consumers. Sprint executives said the company would continue to extend its reach into airport Wi-Fi systems, in addition to building access points at locations such as hotels and convention centers.

The company announced a deal with Internet service provider in November to make Wi-Fi network access available at some 3,000 U.S. truck stops.

"Sprint understands that the killer app for our business customers is wireless access to whatever corporate information they need to get their jobs done while away from the office," Phil Bowman, vice president of business marketing for Sprint, said in a statement. "Through our relationship with Concourse, we are able to provide high-speed wireless access in some of the country's busiest airports."

In related news, Boingo Wireless also announced Tuesday an agreement with Concourse Communications to add the airport hot-spot provider's locations to it roaming network. Under the deal, Boingo subscribers will be able to use the hot spots in Concourse's network in LaGuardia Airport, JFK International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and shortly, Detroit-Wayne County Metropolitan Airport and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.