By John Egan
When it comes to Wi-Fi service, Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is soaring.
RottenWiFi.com ranked Bush's free Wi-Fi service as the ninth-fastest airport Wi-Fi in the world. Users tested and evaluated the quality of Wi-Fi at more than 130 airports in 53 countries. Only the airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee, beat Bush for Wi-Fi speed among US airports.
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, topped the list.
Data collected through a RottenWiFi.com app showed IAH's free Wi-Fi service, which debuted in September 2014, averaged 15.28 megabytes per second. The speed of Wi-Fi downloads at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport was clocked at 30.98 Mbps. By comparison, Bangkok's airport Wi-Fi came in at 41.45 Mbps.
Mario C. Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System, said: "Not only did we want to provide free Wi-Fi service to our customers, but we also wanted that service to be strong and reliable. These results are a good indication that the Houston Airport System has been successful in meeting both of those goals."
Free Wi-Fi is available via hundreds of access points throughout terminal areas at IAH and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), allowing business travelers, convention attendees and leisure travelers to enjoy robust Internet access. Unlike some other free Wi-Fi networks, users of the Houston airports' Wi-Fi system aren't required to watch ads to gain access.
Lisa Kent, chief technology officer for the Houston Airport System, said: "We wanted to ensure that our customers got the kind of reliable and fast Wi-Fi service they asked for and deserve. With connection speeds that exceeds our goal of 6 megabits per second, we delivered on that promise and now provide the kind of enhanced customer service that today's tech-savvy traveler has come to expect."
Before free Wi-Fi service was introduced, both airports offered slower Wi-Fi through a fee-based system.
"One of our strategic priorities is to serve the customer, and although we had a previous public Wi-Fi service, it did not keep up with expectations for quality, speed or even coverage that passengers in our airport facilities were demanding," Kent said.
The Houston Airport System is looking into enhancements to the Wi-Fi network, such as mobile apps and location-based services.
"There are many things that passengers want to locate when they're inside an airport facility, from retail stores and restaurants to lost-and-found facilities and parking garages," Kent said. "We see the Wi-Fi platform as the critical foundation upon which we'll layer many of these additional applications and services in the future."
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