Boingo now has carrier offload on 13 military bases, testing multicarrier small cells

Boingo continues to be in active discussions with multiple carriers to deploy small cell networks on military bases and it’s testing some multicarrier small cells in its lab now, the company’s CEO said during the third-quarter earnings conference call Thursday.

Boingo isn’t naming any carrier names but CEO David Hagan said that while the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) market is more mature in terms of carriers sharing the same cell, “we have some multicarrier small cells that we’re running in our lab and expect to deploy that.” Plus, more multicarrier small cell technology is coming to market.

Boingo revealed earlier this year that it was seeing “incredible” carrier interest in small cells, and it planned further deployments in multiple venues with multiple carriers, particularly at military bases and entertainment venues. At military sites, Boingo’s Wi-Fi deployments are expanding to places like bowling alleys and restaurants, which the military is paying for.

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All the mobile operators are interested in improving their coverage on military bases where they've traditionally not had great service and they want to change that to keep their U.S. military customers happy. Some carriers are doing small cells, some are doing carrier offload and some are doing both, even on the same military base, Hagan said.

Boingo has deployed Wi-Fi gear on military campuses across the country and it’s now launched carrier offload services on 13 military bases with plans to deploy the majority of its 58 domestic bases live with the Boingo Broadband service by year end.

“We’re extremely excited about getting 13 bases implemented so far,” Hagan said, with the impact on Boingo’s results expected to emerge in late 2018.

The company signed 12 long-term carrier leasing agreements in the quarter, bringing the total to 34 carrier leasing contracts for the first nine months of 2017. Boingo said that as of Sept. 30, there were 22,200 DAS nodes live with another 11,000 nodes in backlog. Boingo still considers itself the largest provider of indoor DAS in the world.

Carrier offload for Boingo is when a carrier like Sprint puts traffic on the network and Boingo collects revenue on a per-megabyte basis. Separately, with its service provider business, Boingo runs the network on behalf of a carrier, and that typically involves a monthly fee to Boingo.

During the third quarter, Boingo increased revenue in the areas of wholesale Wi-Fi, military and DAS. The quarter was so good the company is raising guidance for the full year ending Dec. 31, with revenue now expected to be in the range of $199 million to $203 million.