RealTime IT News

WLAN Notes & Notions

802.11b Room Service
Austin TX-based Wayport Inc. recently introduced an all-wireless Net access solution for hotels that offers in-room access via 802.11b Wi-Fi-enabled notebook computers and handheld devices.

Wayport, founded in 1996, is a service provider and systems integrator that offers wired and wireless broadband access solutions for airports and hotels. It says it has more than 400 Wayport-enabled locations, though not all are wireless.

With the new wholly wireless Wayport product, hoteliers can offer wireless access to high-speed Internet in each guest room and throughout the premises. Wayport will also offer hoteliers the option of providing wireless PC cards or USB-to-wireless adaptors for guests without a wireless card.

"With 802.11b rapidly growing to become the wireless industry standard, it was a logical next step for us to develop a completely wireless hotel product," says Wayport CEO Dave Vucina.

"We firmly believe that all-wireless is the next generation in hotel connectivity and this new service enables us to serve all users of notebook computers or handheld devices, whether or not they are wirelessly enabled today."

Since it received $70 million in funding six months ago, Wayport's footprint of installed hotel guest rooms has nearly tripled to approximately 90,000 rooms in more than 400 major hotels. Its billed user connections have increased at an even faster rate to nearly 33,000 per month.

In addition to the hotel locations, Wayport serves four major U.S. airports, providing high-speed wireless Internet connectivity throughout the terminal, including all gates and concourses.

The latest airport added to the network is San Jose International Airport. Wayport has plans to add service at several additional airports in the summer of 2001.

Hospital, University Go RoamAbout
Rochester NH-based Enterasys Networks, a wireless LAN equipment supplier, recently completed two new installations of its RoamAbout Wi-Fi wireless networking solution.

In Newbury, England, Sheffield Children's Hospital selected RoamAbout to create a secure enterprise-wide wireless network. And Simon Fraser University in Burnaby BC, in Canada, selected RoamAbout as part of a new pilot program in its teacher education curriculum.

The new infrastructure at Sheffield Children's Hospital, installed earlier this year, uses Enterasys' RoamAbout wireless PC cards and access points. It provides staff and patients with flexible Internet, intranet and hospital network access throughout the facility.

Staff will use the network to access a patient records database and for clinical applications. The network also provides access to the Internet and e-learning facilities so sick children can continue their education during their stay in hospital.

Sheffield Children's Hospital caters to children from birth to the age of 16. With 1,300 staff and 150 beds, it's an essential resource in the area.

"We had almost entirely paper-based systems that were very difficult to maintain and became time-intrusive," explains the hospital's IT Manager Russell Banks.

"There were some PCs scattered around the hospital used mainly for administrative purposes and remote patient management. Thanks to Enterasys' secure wireless solution, we can now use the technology for direct clinical care."

Simon Fraser's teacher training department will run wireless workshops with a mobile lab of laptop computers on a portable trolley, wirelessly connected using RoamAbout. The pilot program aims to instruct and showcase innovative ways teachers can integrate technology in the classroom to enhance the learning environment.

"In a country with one of the highest levels of student access to the Internet, it is imperative that our teachers learn to use technology in ways that will enhance their course curriculum and engage student learning," says the university's supervisor of network operations Burkhard Kraas.

"With Enterasys' RoamAbout wireless access, we are able to showcase cutting-edge technology and deliver network access wherever the student is located, be it in the classroom, a hallway or out on the patio."

Birth of the Location-Based LAN
Compaq Computer Corp. and network systems and applications provider Icewrx joined forces earlier this month to offer sports fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the Lakers, access to targeted Web-style information via wireless LAN.

As part of a test launch, the facility distributed WLAN-enabled Compaq iPAQ Pocket PCs during the first game of the NBA Championships earlier this month. A full launch at Staples Center is anticipated in the fall.

In the near future, sports fans will be able to view streaming video, the latest scores, team statistics, and check traffic conditions for the ride home, in addition to ordering food, drinks and merchandise on Compaq iPAQ Pocket PCs.

"We are always looking to enhance the guest experience for our fans, and believe this program will dramatically change the way sports spectators can access information and enrich the sporting experience," said Staples Center CTO Vicki Kaplan.

Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PCs will deliver state-of-the-art technology that enables sports fans with real-time wireless and mobile capabilities access to essential sporting information and a wide range of communication functions -including Internet access and the ability to monitor the game from more than just the sidelines.

Spectators can examine different views of the basketball court, and in the future, will even be able to download traffic information to determine the best route home after the game.

"The ability for people to receive rich content, anywhere and anytime, is a significant milestone in the development of wireless solutions," said Icewrx President and CEO Michael Kahn.

"We believe that providing content to people when and where they need it will change the way we live and work."