South By Southwest is coming up next weekend in Austin, Texas. For the Interactive track, this means that thousands of geeks are coming to Austin, armed with their mobile phones. As many folks know, a lot of blogger/social media types utilize the Apple iPhone. And here in the United States, this means they’ll be using AT&T (unless they’ve unlocked their iPhone and use T-Mobile, like me).
Last year AT&T had a nightmare as the high quantity of iPhone users brought down their network in the downtown Austin area. AT&T brought in trucks with temporary cell sites, but it was a huge deal.
Earlier today I saw a post from Stacey Higginbotham, where she outlines how AT&T is beefing up their network in anticipation of the iPhoners and their data heavy usage.
However, I would imagine that AT&T will *still* have issues come March 12-16th (the length of SXSWi). So, what is a travelling geek supposed to do?! Get a Boingo account!
Boingo, for those unaware, is a network of Wi-Fi hotspots…much like T-Mobile’s hotspot network, except that you can use Boingo in a lot more places. If you can sign into your Boingo account in and around Austin, you can use your mobile if/when AT&T’s 3G network fails you.
I have used Boingo all over the globe for years now and it’s a service I would highly recommend. There’s a great iPhone/iPod Touch app that automatically signs onto Boingo-affiliated networks. Also, an app exists for other platforms too including Android, Nokia and Windows Mobile. Boingo works for laptops too – Mac and PCs!
With Boingo, mobile Wi-Fi accounts start at $8/month and have no long term contracts.
And NO, I don’t work for Boingo..I’m just a fan of their service and I wanted other SXSWers to know about it.
PS: if you get Boingo up and running and thereby have a working Wi-Fi connection, you can easily make calls on your iPhone via Skype or arrange a meetup with your friends using Facebook or your favorite Twitter application.