Good News for Honolulu Travelers: You Can Now Get Free Wi-Fi at the Airport

The State is expanding wi-fi coverage at Daniel K. Inouye International airport, other airports.
Daniel K Inouye International Airport
Photo: Courtesy of the State of Hawai‘i


Starting this month, it’s easier for Honolulu air travelers to get online with free wi-fi.


That’s the result of the state Department of Transportation starting service under a new contract with Boingo Wireless, a company that operates wireless networks at many airports, stadiums and properties worldwide.


The service soft-launched on Dec. 14, according to state transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara, who said that travelers discovered it was available within minutes and thousands of have signed on within the first week.


It’s a service that travelers have asked for, he says, since coverage was limited in the past. “It wasn’t always free and it wasn’t unlimited; you had to pay,” Sakahara says.


As with many other airports that contract with a private company, the first 45 minutes will be free to those who watch an ad or video. Travelers can also opt to pay for faster internet over a 24-hour period or a monthly subscription good for wireless wherever Boingo operates, the state said.


Initially, the wi-fi coverage area at the airport includes the Overseas Terminal and Central Concourse on the first and second levels between ticket lobbies 4 through 8, gates 12 through 25 and baggage claims E through H.


Boingo is working on wireless infrastructure improvements that will add coverage to the rest of the airport: Diamond Head Concourse, ‘Ewa Concourse and Interisland Terminal in the coming months, Sakahara said, with airportwide service anticipated by April 2018.


Sakahara says the private contract means that “Boingo will actually pay us to provide the service.” He says the state will get either $300,000 each year or a gross percentage of the revenue it makes from Hawai‘i travelers, whatever is higher, he said.


 In the announcement, Gov. David Ige praised the move: “Free wi-fi is a highly requested service and my administration is thrilled to make it happen.”


Sakahara says Boingo is also building a Distributed Antenna System network at the Honolulu airport designed to boost cellular connectivity for passengers.


And he says the state and Boingo plan to bring wi-fi and similar networks to other Hawai‘i airports, including Kahului Airport, Hilo International Airport, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport and Līhu‘e Airport beginning in 2018.


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