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Boingo In A Tough Business

Posted on Wednesday, May 18th 2011

According to a report by Cisco, global mobile data traffic grew 2.6 times in 2010. Last year, mobile data traffic recorded data flow of 237 petabytes per month. Mobile video traffic accounted for 49.8% of total mobile traffic last year and is projected to grow to 52.8% in the current year. The growth was seen across smartphones and other handheld devices, and average smartphone usage doubled in 2010 to 79 megabytes per month. Tablets have also become a big user, with more than 3 million tablets connecting to the mobile network last year and each tablet generating five times more traffic than the average smartphone. The report further estimates that 94 million laptops were on the mobile network in 2010, generating traffic of 1.7 gigabytes per month.

Boingo Wireless
Boingo Wireless (NASDAQ:WIFI) is a global provider of commercial mobile Wi-Fi Internet solutions. The company was started by Earthlink founder Sky Dayton in 2001. Today it owns and manages 325,000 Wi-Fi hot spots spread across 100 countries. Its hot spots provide Internet access to customers at airports, restaurants, coffee shops, convention centers, and hotels.

Boingo saw revenues grow 22% over the year to $80.4 million in 2010. A year ago, revenues had grown 16% to $65 million. Earnings before interest, taxes and noncash charges grew 35% in 2010 to $18.2 million. For the quarter ending in March, Boingo projects revenues of $20.5 million–$21.0 million compared with $18.5 million last March. As of March 31, Boingo had 214,000 paid subscribers, up from the previous year’s 158,000.

Cisco’s report also projects global mobile data traffic to increase 26-fold between 2010 and 2015, with mobile data traffic recording an annual growth rate of 92% during this period. By 2015, 6.3 exabytes per month of data will flow through the Internet. Smartphone traffic is expected to grow 16 times to 1.3 gigabytes per user per month by 2015. Further, mobile-connected tablets will generate 248 petabytes of traffic per month. Analysts expect mobile carriers like AT&T to look toward other service providers to meet this growing need for bandwidth. Boingo’s wholesale offering provides these Wi-Fi services to wireless carriers and is expected to be a high growth market for the company. At present, Boingo’s wholesale segment accounts for 44% of its revenues.

In addition to wholesale consumers, Boingo’s customer base includes retail users. To individual buyers, Boingo offers multiple pricing plans, including 24-hour access to the net for $7.95 a day or a monthly access at $9.95 throughout the Americas. Global plans cost as much as $59.00 per month. Unfortunately, Boingo’s retail consumers experience a very high churn rate. Last year, they reported a churn rate 9.5%, which was marginally lower than 2009’s 9.7%.

Boingo is looking to expand internationally as part of its growth plans. It is present in more than 100 countries and is planning further growth in Europe and Asia markets by leveraging its customer relationships with British Airports Authority and China Telecom.

Boingo is counting on growth in mobile data traffic to fuel its own future growth rate. Its stock is trading at $8.88 with market capitalization is $51.8 million. The stock price is significantly lower than the listing price of $13.50.

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