Free wi-fi at LAX? Forget about it

LAX-terminal6-gates.jpgThe Los Angeles City Council today blocked the airport's plans to offer free wireless at LAX, complaining that the deal reached by airport officials did not pass the smell test. Not that it was really going to be like other cities' free wireless — you would likely have to watch an ad — but it sounded better than the $9.95 that T-Mobile charges LAX inmates now. And worse, T-Mobile is getting out of the wireless business, so LAX could end up with no wi-fi service for passengers.

The department that oversees LAX agreed to a two-year, $663,333 contract with Miami-based Advanced Wireless Group to provide 45 minutes of free service, and charge a fee for longer usage. From Art Marroquin in the Daily Breeze:

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino asked his colleagues to probe the circumstances surrounding the deal because airport officials selected Advanced Wireless Group as part of a sole-source contracting process, meaning the work could not be completed by anyone else.


In doing so, airport officials circumvented a competitive bidding process that shut out local businesses such as Los Angeles-based Boingo Wireless, which provides Wi-Fi service to 55 airports in North America.

"This is a subversion of our policies to support a competitive bidding process," Councilman Richard Alarcon said.

"How do we know this is the best service we can provide for LAX?" Alarcon said. "To give a company an advantage like this is just plain bad."

Now, it seems very possible that the real issue here is that the Council wasn't consulted, and thus Advanced Wireless Group and its representatives were not afforded the opportunity to make the relevant campaign contributions. At least one other company, Bongo Wireless, complained it didn't get to bid for the job. "All we're asking for is transparency and fair treatment," VP Zack Sterngold said. "LAX is the most important airport in the world to us and we would like to serve it."


More by Kevin Roderick:
Once again, Scully backtracks after dismay builds
Oct. 2, 1971: Soul Train debuts from LA (video)
Eagle Rock burger icon closes after 78 years
AEG not liable in Michael Jackson's death, jury rules
Robin Kramer in the Zocalo green room
Recent City Hall stories on LA Observed:
Robin Kramer in the Zocalo green room
Garcetti names his planning commission
L.A. gets its film czar... to do what exactly?
Century City high-rise another example of 'dumb' growth?
Eric Garcetti rated one of America's most dateable mayors

New at LA Observed
Follow us on Twitter

On the Media Page
Go to Media
On the Politics Page
Go to Politics

LA Biz Observed
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Advertisement
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook