A few months ago I reported that San Diego Airport made their WiFi free after not continuing with a pay for play supplier who at least delivered 300k to each user. The supplier is also the same who supplies the WiFi management at Panera Bakery, a national chain which uses WiFi as an amenity to keep their customers coming in who are able to fill the locations when they need a fill up.
So when San Diego went free I tried it. My speeds were under 100k.....I called and complained and was told they had installed the equivalent of two T1s...That's what I have in my house thanks to Covad and the Blogger Relations program, and I'm the only one on it. Compare that to what my wife now has in her Sacramento house, 50 megs. Okay I'm a speed freak who wants the Lamborghini Diablo affect, but whose okay with a Lexus SUV or an Infiniti G35 Coupe. That means I'll accept 384 or higher free or even paid at an airport, which in the case of San Diego Airport was one of the big motivators for signing up for Boingo, as their service let me roam on the Wyse, then ICOA run hotspot there.
My conversation with the IT lead was nothing less than a joke.
First he viewed 3 megs as more than enough bandwidth for an airport the size of San Diego. WRONG. 100 people on at the same time means 30k a person (one way up or down.) Last week I again measured less than 60 K of speed, that's dial up baby. What's more anything that was Flash based never even could load, the pipe was so clogged and slow.
Another thing he used as justification in not needing more bandwidth was the "growing number of people using data cards." Well maybe, except in many parts of the airport the CDMA cards from Sprint only register 2.5g because of cell locations...specifically the gate areas.
My view is simple. First if San Diego wants to be a great tourism and business convention location, they need to get a real handle on what the air traveler is really experiencing. Second they need to get someone who knows what kind of pipe an airport really needs. Lastly, they should look at WiFi as a profit center to help defray the costs of things that they need, instead of giving away something that no one can really use beyond a Yahoo or Google Mail account.
Ironically, as I sit here and post from Sacramento Airport (another airport that dropped ICOA and went the free route) I'm getting 1.5 megs down and 512 up. Granted its Sunday, but I know I'm not the only person online....