Google has announced that it will begin to offer free Wi-Fi to travelers in 47 airports across the country. Google has partnered with Time Warner, Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, and others to deliver wireless service. Wi-Fi will be offered free for a time at the following airports: Boston's Logan, Houston's George Bush, Las Vegas' McCarran, and Seattle's Sea Tac, to name a few. Last week, Yahoo announced that it would be offering free Wi-Fi for the entire year in New York's Times Square.
Although Google and Yahoo may be offering free Wi-Fi, in so many words, it's really not free. Consider this: Your team is traveling out of state. They get tied up at an airport and fire off their laptops to send e-mail. Remember, it's a public network, so anything they send could be captured, including passwords, client lists, and other intellectual property IP. In addition, they are vulnerable to attacks and malware. You have to ask yourself, what then are the costs to your organization if any of this information is stolen? What if they pick up malware for which your antivirus does not have a definition? What if it spreads to other computers in your organization? What will be the remediation costs?
I'm not sure what the market for Wi-Fi at an airport is. I do know that earlier this year, IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk wrote about the many attempts for municipalities to offer Wi-Fi that just never took off. Now, maybe there will be a market since traveling business professionals might need a high-speed connection while they are waiting for their flight. Personally, I don't have a need. I have always used my time at the airport to buy expensive food, doze off on those really uncomfortable seats, or buy my kids junk at souvenir shops.