Boingo Wireless has finally released their Mac OS X client software for connecting to thousands of commercial wireless 802.11b hotspots. Boingo is an aggregator, meaning that they combine for-fee hotspots from dozens of networks into a single user account: subscribers use one login and pay a single session or monthly fee, either $8 per day or $22 per month for unlimited use. It's a lot cheaper to subscribe to Boingo than to pay for accounts on all the individual networks that you might need to access while traveling.
Adam and I have been fans of Boingo since its inception - and we've been lobbying founder Sky Dayton, an old friend of Adam's as well as EarthLink's founder, for a Mac version since they announced themselves three years ago. The reasons for delay would make a long story, but what's important is that the waiting is over.
Use Boingo's online directory to determine which locations might be useful to you. They have several thousand hotspots in their aggregated network, including all of the Wayport-serviced hotels and airports, which number about 1,000. The company is striking new deals all the time, and it's likely to grow quite a bit this year. They also have an increasingly large number of locations outside the U.S., useful for international travelers.
The reason client software is so important for fee-based hotspots is that there are few standards (and few networks conform to the same standards) for logging users into the hotspot networks. The client has to handle the back-end authentication, which is the careful and secure dance of sending a user name and password; make sure an account is active; and allow that user onto the network.
Use the code PDLST0419 to sign up for unlimited service and get your first month free. Boingo's client software works with Mac OS 10.2.8 or later; previous versions of Mac OS X 10.2 require Safari to be separately installed.
Boingo doesn't require any term of contract nor charge a cancellation fee when you discontinue your month-to-month usage. T-Mobile by contrast charges $40 per month for their unlimited month-to-month plan with no termination charge. So there's no penalty with Boingo for signing up only during months when you have heavy hotspot needs while traveling.