Politics, Technology Collide Over LAX Wi-Fi Deal

Another collision between the long history of political deals in Los Angeles, and the city's growing high tech industry surfaced this week, after the Los Angeles City Council decided to halt a contract to provide free Wi-Fi in LAX to a Florida firm, in an uncompetitive process. The LA City Council, in a 13-0 vote, decided this week to stop the Board of Airport Commissioners from awarding a contract to Advanced Wireless Group, after protests by Councilman Joe Buscaino and Dennis Zine. The entire process of awarding the Wi-Fi contract had completely bypassed Los Angeles-based Boingo Wireless, a major provider of airport Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi hotspot services.

Boingo has contracts to run Wi-Fi for such major airports as Denver International Airport, and provides its Wi-Fi services in dozens of airports around the world. The Board of Airport Commissioners had argued that an RFP process would take too long, and that it did not want to leave travelers without a free Wi-Fi alternative.

This isn't the firs time the long established Los Angeles political machine has run up against the industry; the City of Los Angeles raised the ire of many high tech firms in 2010, when it decided to reclassify many Internet companies for tax purposes, triggering protests from those firms on the business-unfriendly policies of the city. In that effort, at least one company moved in protect--LegalZoom, now over the hill in Glendale, moved its headquarters after fighting that tax effort with the City. Photo courtesy of