Boingo unable to deliver because of rubbish Italian infrastructure

It all looks really good on the press release, it really does.

Then you find yourself in Rome Airport — which, you imagine should have some pretty decent first-world facilities — and then you quickly realise that both Rome Airport and their bollocks provider (something called Alice) can’t quite deliver an envelope, let alone a working wifi connection.

I sat down in the tired 1990s bollocks coffee/restaurant area in the departure gate earlier this afternoon and fully expected to be able to connect to the WiFi with my international Boingo Wireless account.

After a few minutes of grunting at the screen, I recognised that what I was witnessing was a brilliant example of how the press release doesn’t quite match reality.

I’m looking at you, ‘Global Broadband Alliance‘. Apparently since this rubbish ‘Alice‘ zone is affiiliated with the Global Bollocks Alliance, that means that I should also be able to use my Boingo Account. Right?


I clicked on the ‘international roaming’ option and Boingo was right there at the top of the list. Good news. I’ve used Boingo all across the planet — particularly in North America.

I clicked and waited — no grunting this time — only smugness. There is a terrific amount of smugness to be had from owning a Boingo account. When you fire up your laptop in an unusual location — hotel, airport, pub, restaurant — you’ll know there’s a Boingo Hotspot quicker than you can say the words ‘reliable infrastructure’, because the software sits in the background. It sits waiting for you to get within 100 paces of a Boingo hotspot — and when that happens, it pops up a little window telling you it’s logging you in. Bish, bash, bosh… fantastic.

You can’t do much with your Boingo Hotspot account when you’re faced with Italy’s finest tired infrastructure. Goodness knows what they’re thinking at Fiumicino Airport.

Here’s what happened.

I clicked on the Boingo Hotspot icon on the ‘Alice Hotspot’ login page.

I waited.

And I waited.

The concept is that you visit that page — authenticate yourself — then the local hotspot should connect you.

Not in Rome. Not in Fiumicino Airport, anyway.

Here’s what you get:

Wait for about 4-5 minutes and the connection times out.

It’s not the Boingo service screwing up. I know this because I’m connected to the internet (still sat in the dire 1990s bright-but-faded ‘cafe’ place) and I’m browsing the Boingo site.

I’m connected using my MiFi unit featuring a UK Vodafone SIM.

I shouldn’t really have to carry the MiFi unit for the purposes of connecting to the internet at an airport, should I?

Fair enough if you’re at a weird hotel somewhere in Europe — yeah — take the MiFi. But at the Airport in Rome, you’d imagine the internet connection would be correctly configured?

I wonder how long it’s been screwed. You’d think that there should be some kind of basic monitoring in place to check the system is working and that folk like me can feed their desire for internet 24 hours a day as necessary.

I daresay that if I opted to buy a 5 EURO one hour access card from ‘Alice’, that would have worked.

But the partner links? Deary me. Bad show, Rome. Bad show, Alice.


I’m amazed that this kind of technology still doesn’t seem to work to a service level.

Meanwhile, if you’re a frequent flyer, I strongly recommend getting hold of a MiFi unit (like the Novatel one I’m using) and/or a Boingo Wireless hotspot account.

6 replies on “Boingo unable to deliver because of rubbish Italian infrastructure”

I had the same problem in Israel at the hotel I've stayed at. What's worse is that they couldn't even keep their own auth servers up, much less provide reliable access to roamers. However, I found iPass worked a lot better than Boingo did at this particular location.

Are unlocked or unlockable MiFi devices available yet? Might as well go the whole hog and use a local data SIM when going around the place…

I'm sorry, unfortunately the roaming between Telecom Italia and Boingo was not operational at the time you tried to access.
It was the reason you didn't find the “wifiarea” SSID in the HotSpot directory.

Telecom Italia and Boingo will announce the roaming agreement as soon as possible, and you will access the internet in confortable way from our wonderful “Leonardo Da Vinci” international airport

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