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Waiting for a Flight? Plug Into the Internet

January 21, 2001

A Los Angeles company has installed free-access Internet kiosks in boarding gate areas at Los Angeles International Airport as part of a yearlong trial. So far, the units, attached to waiting-lounge seats, have proved popular.

There is a catch: You must spend at least 30 seconds on an advertising Web site from the program's sponsors to "earn" 10 minutes of Internet time. Click again and get more time.

Since Thanksgiving, when Neptune Networks began installation at LAX, the 12 units have averaged 18 hours of use per day at each station, according to Dave Reynolds, the company's vice president for sales and marketing. Heaviest use, nearly around the clock, is at the mezzanine level of the Tom Bradley International Terminal; other stations are near Gate 32 in Terminal 3.

About 60% of users are business travelers; the balance are leisure travelers, Reynolds said. Users spend, on average, 15 to 20 minutes, and he figures they mostly surf the Web and check e-mail. One thing they can't do is visit pornographic sites; those are filtered out, he added.

Currently, advertisers pay only when people sign on, but Reynolds said the company hopes to attract sponsors who will pay to be on the site, and to institute a credit-card payment option for users who don't want to view ads.

Tapping perhaps the ultimate captive audience, the company also has put 30 of the stations in jury rooms in Los Angeles courts.

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