SFO appears ready to add to the free airport Wi-Fi trend:
This is yet another surprise to this veteran watcher of airport Wi-Fi. The San Mateo County Times appears to have broken the news that the SFO airport authority wants to switch off the money flow when the current T-Mobile contract ends in February. The authority would try to keep T-Mobile as a managed services vendor for up to two years, but would tender a new request for bids for the airport's long-term wireless provider.
SFO would join Boston, which is finalizing its free decision; Seattle-Tacoma, which switched over this month; and potentially, Atlanta. Denver started offering free Internet access at the end of 2007.
SFO has competition in its area with two smaller airports: Oakland in the east bay and San Jose in the south bay; both of those airports switched to free Internet service in 2008.
Don't cry for the service providers who operate networks in these airports; that's primarily Boingo Wireless, which under the Concourse brand has the lion's share of airport operations; AT&T and T-Mobile operate most of the rest. Airports aren't inclined to run their own Wi-Fi networks, and thus providers may shift from the hassle and cost of collecting fees and splitting revenue to providing a fee for service, which is much more reliable income over the long haul.