Inexpensive Net Access Coming To Airports - InformationWeek

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Inexpensive Net Access Coming To Airports

Business travelers seeking quick and cheap Internet access inairports will no longer have to rely on their Web-enabled cell phones or scramble for a data jack in the Admiral's Club if Bell Atlantic Corp. has its way. The telco says it's installing in several airports sit-down kiosks that provide high-speed Internet links for 25 cents a minute.

After inserting a dollar bill into the kiosk, a business traveler can use a keyboard and mouse to control a computer screen and browser to access online information and Web-based E-mail for four minutes. Kiosk users can also download information onto a disk. Bell Atlantic has deployed three kiosks at T.F. Green Airport in Providence, R.I., with plans to put them in airports in Manchester N.H., and Portland, Maine, by year's end. The kiosks use Internet Explorer and have clocks, so users know when to add more money. The kiosks also accept credit cards and calling cards.

"This sounds like an easy, no-hassle way for me to quickly check information on Web sites and send E-mail, which for a quarter a minute is real inexpensive," says George Deyett, network design manager at Polaroid Corp. in Waltham, Mass. "You don't always have time to find a connection to the Internet for your laptop to get quick travel and business information."

Although the increasing deployment of wireless LANs in airport terminals and clubs doesn't tie down a user physically the way a kiosk does, LAN usage is more expensive. For example, American Airlines' Wireless LAN packages require users to buy software and a wireless adapter card for their PCs, which costs almost $250, and pay a monthly subscription fee for network use. Says Daniel Briere, founder of TeleChoice, a consulting and research firm: "Business travelers--especially those on the go--will find this kiosk approach a quick and affordable way to get the basic info they need in a convenient way."

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