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Free Wi-Fi at LAX: L.A. City Council endorses provider

June 20, 2012 |  1:45 pm

A 747 comes in for landing at LAX with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to stick with a company chosen to provide free wireless Internet at Los Angeles International Airport, ensuring that passengers will have access to that service next month.

Council members had complained in recent weeks that airport officials had failed to conduct a competitive search for a wireless provider. But airport officials warned council members that a new competition would take up to two years, leaving millions of passengers without Wi-Fi starting in mid-July.

Airport officials gave the contract to Advanced Wireless Group LLC after learning that T-Mobile, the current Wi-Fi provider, would pull out of LAX. On an 11 to 1 vote, the council reaffirmed that decision.

Councilman Richard Alarcon said he was troubled that airport officials had failed to do a more competitive bidding process. Nevertheless, he sided with the majority as they upheld the airport agency’s decision.

“This process stinks, folks,” Alarcon told his colleagues. “[But] I can count the votes. It’s going to pass.”

T-Mobile had been charging airport passengers $9.95 an hour for wireless. Advanced Wireless will show users a 15- to 30-second advertisement before giving them access to 45 minutes of Internet service.

Councilman Joe Buscaino cast the only opposing vote, saying he thought the airport could have secured a better deal for the city.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: A 747 comes in for landing at LAX with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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