Sunday, January 22, 2012

Verizon Wi-Fi for All Devices: Mac, Linux, Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and more

See bottom of post for minor UPDATE 2/5/2012.

Two and a half years ago, Verizon announced a partnership with Boingo to offer free wi-fi to its FiOS and DSL (3 Mbps or higher only) customers. Although it was a welcome addition, especially because of Boingo's coverage in airports, it was criticized for only supporting Windows devices, while everyone else was left out in the cold. The initial version of the software also had issues installing with the Firefox web browser. I had tried to install the software about a year or two ago and had not been successful, but today I am happy to report that the service actually works much better than expected.

The first piece of good news is for Windows users: Verizon has updated its software so that it is no longer browser dependent to install. You can do so by going to

The second piece of good news is arguably the bigger one of the two. When you go to get set up Verizon Wi-Fi, you will be asked to create a username and password to use with the service. You are then asked to download the software. However, you don't actually need the software, although it makes the Wi-Fi much easier to use on Windows. For all other platforms, you can simply use Boingo's web login page. Yes, that's right. Remember that username and password you created? After you connect to the Boingo wireless network and get to the Boingo splash page in your browser, click on the dropdown that says "Roaming Login". Choose "Verizon Business" and enter the username and password that you set up earlier. You need to include "" as part of the username. This means that any device with a web browser can now use "Verizon Wi-Fi" where there is a Boingo hotspot! The fact that Verizon doesn't report this method seems to be a large oversight on their part. Or perhaps they want to keep the number of Wi-Fi users down because the more users that use the service, the more they have to pay Boingo.

It is possible you will not be allowed to register for the service at without being on a Windows machine, but such a restriction, if it exists, is minor compared to not being able to receive the service at all, and is easily worked around by tech savvy users. It is also possible that this capability to login with just a username and password was only added recently. Nevertheless, it is extremely useful and I hope that other people will benefit from this knowledge, which I have not seen reported elsewhere online.
Note: Boingo's website may show more hotspots than Verizon's list, but that is because Boingo users are allowed access to some partner hotspots, while Verizon users cannot access those hotspots (you might be my friend, but your friend is not necessarily my friend too). However, this also theoretically means Verizon users can access non-Boingo international hotspots that also list "Verizon Business".

Minor Update 2/5/2012: It appears that not all Verizon Wi-Fi listed hotspots can necessarily be used as described in my post. I've discovered that the Marriott Long Island "ibahn" SSID doesn't seem to have Verizon listed as a roaming provider, even though the Windows app can log on. Go figure.