Chicago airports now offering free wireless internet

(Adam Simmons/Flickr)

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The Chicago Department of Aviation announced Sunday that free wireless internet access is now available at Chicago’s two major airports.

O’Hare and Midway international airports are now offering free Wi-Fi service with streaming capability to all travelers, replacing time-based free Wi-Fi sessions at all locations in the airports, according to a statement from the CDA.

The new service, which is being provided by Boingo Wireless, comes courtesy of advertisers, the CDA said.

“We are pleased that O’Hare and Midway now offer free unlimited Wi-Fi to better serve our passengers by keeping them connected throughout their airport journey,” according to CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. “As we grow and modernize Chicago’s airports, the new service underscores our commitment to integrating new technology and platforms that enhance the passenger experience at Chicago’s airports.”

The airports previously offered free Wi-Fi to all customers with a 30-minute limit, the CDA said. Passengers will now have access to unlimited free wireless internet access, with rolling advertisements every 45 minutes. Passengers will also be able to purchase daily or monthly Boingo subscriptions for faster internet speeds.

The new service comes at no cost to the city, the CDA said.

The agency also offers internet access through Passport, an internet hotspot technology that automatically connects travelers to Wi-Fi networks without requiring log-ins or passwords. The world’s first such network was deployed at O’Hare in 2013, the CDA said.

“Passpoint is a wireless industry standard that makes Wi-Fi automatic and seamless, much like the experience a passenger has when using his or her cellular service,” according to David Hagan, Boingo’s CEO and board chairman. “With Passpoint and unlimited free Wi-Fi sessions, travelers can enjoy simplified ways to get online and stay online.”

The CDA’s announcement comes ahead of two new programs designed to modernize and prepare the airports for future growth. The programs will include “new security as well as advanced technologies designed to provide a more seamless experience for customers traveling through Chicago,” the CDA said.