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New Wi-Fi service lets RDU travelers soar

Posted April 1, 2011

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— New wireless Internet service has brought Raleigh-Durham International Airport up to par with its location in a high-tech capital.

Over the years, RDU's public Wi-Fi service earned a bad reputation. People complained the service was too slow, airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

"What we found was there was more demand for it than we expected," Hamlin said.

RDU asked its provider, AT&T, to boost the bandwidth. After months of work at AT&T's expense, the new public Wi-Fi system was turned on in late March.

"They increased it by 15 times," Hamlin said. "We've tested the service. It's working very well for us now."

RDU fliers can now surf faster RDU fliers can now surf faster

Mississippi businessman Al Barea made use of the Wi-Fi service while waiting for his flight in RDU's Terminal 2.

"We have to make the best use of our time, and I stay productive when I'm hooked into Wi-Fi," he said.

Barea said the Internet connection was what he would expect not too far from the Research Triangle Park.

"It's been very good. This is the first time I've used it, and so far, I've found it very responsive," he said. "I wasn't disappointed, I'll tell you that."

Wi-Fi access at RDU costs $8 for a day pass or $20 for a monthly account.

Hamlin said there are no plans to offer free Wi-Fi at this point.

22 Comments

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  • ThePhwner Apr 5, 2011

    Hey, why stop at free WiFi? How about free beers at Gordon Biersch? And free iPods from the iPod machine? Maybe free admission for all to the Crown Club? Free food from the Souther Season store? Makes sense to me that since air travel is expensive, everything else should be free. After all, these folks aren't in it to make money.

  • dwntwnboy Apr 1, 2011

    They should offer free Wi-Fi. The airport makes MORE than enough to cover the cost of something like that- not to mention you could offset cost by letting ATT get some advertising or a kiosk in the terminal. Think outside the box there RDU!!

  • bobbruck Apr 1, 2011

    I travel the world. Nine out of 10 airports- even in third world countries have FREE Wi-Fi sponsored by some private corporation.
    RDU is a ripoff and a disgrace to our reputation.

  • mamiller54 Apr 1, 2011

    Most airports have free WiFi. What's up with the charge?

  • NCSUPackfan Apr 1, 2011

    The problem at RDU is that you have to pay to use the WiFi still. I remember the first time I flew out of the new terminal when it was just opened. I was appalled that you still had to pay to use the WiFi and then after I did, the signal strength was ok but I couldn't even look at my email or anything else because it kept timing out.

    I still think RDU's bad reputation for WiFi is the cost, not the speed.

  • JordanvsBird Apr 1, 2011

    Maybe AT&T can turn its attention to boosting bandwidth at sporting events, since even a simple text often won't get through. I guess AT&T can continue to survive on shoddy service so long as Google delays its planned ultra-high speed service beyond Kansas City.

  • ThePhwner Apr 1, 2011

    @pikis - Have you forgotten that air travel is a private, for-profit industry? Internet service costs money. Have you noticed that even for consumers, the more internet bandwidth you select, the more you pay (RoadRunner vs. RoadRunner Extreme, for example). Now consider that you have to provide enough bandwidth for large volumes of people. And this should be free?

  • Pseudonym Apr 1, 2011

    "Although apparently a few of the folks on this forum think that stuff should just be free, because they want it."

    The story of America, circa 2011: "I want it all, I want it now, and I want it free."

  • pikis71722 Apr 1, 2011

    Too expensive. Many airports offer this no charge. Travelers go through enough junk at airports. Pay for parking, pay extra for bags (unless you fly SouthWest), inflated pricing on everything once past security, pay, pay ,pay. You'd think if they really wanted to make some points with the traveling public, they'd offer Wi-Fi for free. Professional travelers don't use the airport's Wi-Fi. This is just another way bilk money from the public.

  • ThePhwner Apr 1, 2011

    "As an IT pro, I see both sides in this"

    LOL. Had to get that one in there, eh? I'm sure even a non-IT pro can understand that things cost money. Like when this article explicitly stated that AT&T spent money on this. Although apparently a few of the folks on this forum think that stuff should just be free, because they want it.

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