Boingo sees ‘ultrafast’ speeds with Wi-Fi 6 at John Wayne Airport

It’s too soon to reveal specific speeds, but Boingo Wireless said it’s seeing big improvements with the trial deployment of Wi-Fi 6 at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.

In fact, it reports seeing ultrafast speeds in the triple digits (Mbps), and as Wi-Fi 6 evolves, it expects to see multigigabit speeds. “There’s some additional testing and tweaking we’re doing, but it was definitely improved,” said Boingo Chief Technology Officer Derek Peterson.

The launch is part of a commercial trial with Cisco equipment and Samsung devices. Boingo deployed Cisco Wi-Fi 6 technology in the airport's administration building. To test the network, Samsung Electronics provided airport staff with early release Samsung Galaxy devices with 802.11ax chipsets.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, which launched in February 2019, is the first family of smartphones with Wi-Fi 6 support. Staff used the Galaxy devices to carry out day-to-day administrative tasks and stream high bandwidth content, experiencing Wi-Fi 6’s high data rates and speeds firsthand.

It’s still early days for Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi also known as 802.11ax, as many products are just going through certification this year. But, a ramp-up is expected for a big showing in 2020.

According to Peterson, Wi-Fi 6 is a strategic pillar of Boingo’s technology roadmap to equip airports and other large venues with connectivity solutions for the 5G world. Wi-Fi 6 meets key 5G requirements to power a range of connected use cases in dense environments with greater capacity, speed and scalability.

RELATED: Boingo upgrades Wi-Fi at Heathrow with Passpoint

One of the areas of focus for Boingo in 2019 is to get ready for newer technologies like Wi-Fi 6, Citizens Band Radio Services (CBRS) and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA); then 2020 will be focused on upgrading the nodes for these new technologies. Some products likely will come toward the end of 2019, but the really big push will be in 2020, which means handsets released this fall with Wi-Fi 6 chipsets will match up to the networks. 

To be sure, Peterson, who has advocated for convergence in the past, doesn’t see CBRS and Wi-Fi 6 as directly competing with one another. “We definitely see a value of having both together in a venue,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “We’re kind of excited about the opportunity to deploy them side by side and have them work together.”