A new Wi-Fi service is being rolled out over the next year in barracks and dormitories for soldiers, airmen and Marines.

Troops will be able to get basic Internet with a data transfer speed of 128 kilobits per second, as well as TV services with local channels, for free. They'll also have the option to pay to upgrade to faster speeds and more channels.

All the services, including Internet-based TV, are wireless.

Boingo Wireless, the company that has new agreements with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and the Marine Corps Non-Appropriated Fund Business and Support Services Division, is on track to launch the service at 30 bases this year, Boingo spokesman Christian Gunning said.

Besides offering faster connections, the service will be less costly in many cases.

"It's a lower price for Internet, compared with what they pay today for the same sort of package," which does not include TV, said Mark Verdeyen, AAFES' telecommunications merchandise manager. "Or they get much faster service for a few dollars more."

He said the 5-megabits-per-second service offered for $29.95 a month under the new Boingo program costs about $40 a month under the previous comparable plan — without TV. Prices and options range up to $89.95 a month for expanded Internet up to 30 Mbps packaged with expanded TV with up to 100-plus channels.

Troops can carry the service with them to new assignments or when visiting another base offering the service. Paid plans also will offer access to more than a million Boingo Wireless hotspots worldwide.

No service member is locked into a long-term contract; the arrangement is month to month, which is more convenient for mobile troops.

They can use the services on any devices — laptop, phones, tablets, Xbox and desktop computers.

The service is now available at Camp Pendleton, California; Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona; Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California; Fort Eustis, Virginia; and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Most Marine Corps bases will have the service by early next year, said Anita Roberson of the Corps' NAF Business and Support Services Division.

They are working with installation and logistics officials on the new program. By Oct. 1, AAFES expects to have it in place at 11 more installations, said Mark Dowdey, AAFES' telecommunications business manager, and will roll it out to as many Army and Air Force installations as possible by late summer next year.

Some Army and Air Force barracks have had Wi-Fi, but most were wired connections, said Dowdey.

The Marine Corps has provided Wi-Fi and cable in barracks common areas or recreation rooms, with Wi-Fi and wired hookups for individual rooms varying by base.

The Navy Exchange Service Command has provided Wi-Fi in bachelor quarters on Navy bases since 2011 through contractor Net Near U, a spokeswoman said.

Pricing is standard for all the bases where Boingo is being implemented:

Internet per month:

Basic: 128 kbps — free

Standard Internet up to 5 Mpbs — $29.95

Expanded Internet up to 30 Mbps — $49.95


Basic TV — free

Standard TV up to 40 channels — $29.95

Expanded TV up to 100-plus channels — $49.95

Internet and TV packages

Standard Internet/TV — $54.95

Expanded Internet/TV — $89.95

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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