MIA sees dip in WI-FI revenue projections, officials confident new system will take hold
By Scott E. Pacheco
The Miami-Dade Aviation Department is now expected to net about $700,000 this year from sales of wireless Internet service, down from projections of a $900,000 take.
The news comes months after tweaking the prices and coverage of its wireless Internet system at Miami International Airport.
"The shortfall from the prior figures can be attributable to the downturn in the economy and the new lower daily rate," said Marc Henderson, aviation department spokesman.
The department decided to shift to a daily and monthly rate after it found that 60% of users chose the daily rate, with 40% buying by the hour.
WI-FI costs airport patrons $6.95 for 24 hours of access or $19.95 per month, which is down from the previous cost of $9.95 per day or $4.95 per hour.
In September there were 12,500 paid sessions of Internet access "that are a combination of the unique user and roaming client of Boingo, iPass and T-Mobile," according to Mr. Henderson, followed by 14,000 in October.
The changes in the fee system took place in the summer under a contract between the county and Electronic Media Systems Inc., a Miami-based telecommunications company. The Miami-Dade County Commission approved the five-year contract with Electronic Media Systems on May 6, though the company has been operating the airport's Internet since 2004 via the WI-FI system based out of Miami International Airport Hotel.
The system is still under review and tweaks will be made in the future if necessary, said County Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz, chairman of the county's Airport and Tourism Committee.
He said the airport faces the challenge of balancing providing the best service and making money.
"They told me that they were going to test it to see and work it out," he said. "It's one of those things that we continue tweaking at the airport. We need to test it, and then from there we tweak it and hopefully we'll be just right."
Officials are confident the system will still take off.
"The (Miami-Dade Aviation Department) network provides better and more robust coverage of all areas including newly added areas — Concourse J, new D gates," Mr. Henderson said. "We are still optimistic that growth will occur, but probably it's more likely linked with the economy."