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Lambert close to increasing free Wi-Fi limit

Flight board lambert airport
File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Passengers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport are on the verge of getting more time to surf the internet for free. A plan to increase the cap on daily Wi-Fi access is expected to go into effect next month, pending approval by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The bill making its way through City Hall increases the free daily limit to an hour, instead of the current 20 minutes. The change has been prompted by travelers, who want more time online before they have to start paying.

"That has been our No 1 complaint," said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

"Most people have more than 20 minutes that they are spending at the airport."

The proposal is a change to the contract with Wi-Fi provider, Boingo.  The contract is up for a hearing at Thursday's meeting of the city's Transportation and Commerce Committee. The bill is expected to go to the full Board of Aldermen on Friday.

More free time will mean an increase in expenses for the airport. But Hamm-Niebruegge says the additional costs should be offset by money coming in from other operations.

"We've brought a lot more revenue into the airport through concessions and through some of the land development that we've done," Hamm-Niebruegge said.  She didn't have a specific amount but believed the increased Wi-Fi cost will be around a couple hundred thousand dollars a year.

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge
Credit Provided by St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge has been the director of St. Louis Lambert International Airport since 2010.

The cost of limitless free Wi-Fi would be too expensive for Lambert. Hamm-Niebruegge said few airports take that approach and local officials thought 60 minutes provided the right balance for air travelers in St. Louis.

"I think it's going to suffice for what people are looking for."

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