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Printing at Your Hotspot

What more could you possibly need at a Wi-Fi hotspot? You've already got your caffe latte and your laptop running a wireless Internet connection at broadband speed. Well what's a computer without a printer?

Securtix Corporation of Houston, TX, wants to provide the printer -- in color no less -- at your local hotspot. The company is starting a service called, aptly enough, Hot-Spot-Printing, where they will a color laser printer and supplies to a hotspot venue owner. They'll even setup the Wi-Fi equipment for venue owners who don't yet offer a connection (the venue needs only supply the broadband connection).

And they do all this for no cost to the owner of the location.

According to Ron Parker of Securtix, the company expects to make its money from end-users paying for their printouts at 99 cents per page. Securtix will also be offering Wi-Fi-ready laptops for rent, by the hour.

"Were going to be using printers that are easy to operate, that don't break down, that do excellent color and black and white," says Parker. "Users will basically have to install the driver for the printer, they can then access the printer....It'll be very simple to print."

The company has not signed any deals with equipment makers, so what printers or 802.11 equipment they'll use is still up in the air. Parker says the laptops they will eventually rent will be Centrino based, so the Wi-Fi will be embedded. They'll run Windows XP and also include the Office XP suite and some Adobe products. The focus is to allow business users access to the tools they'd usually use, even if they don't have their computer with them. Pricing for laptop rental is not set yet, but Parke expects it to be $19.99 to $29.99 per hour.

Unlike most hotspots networks, the money will be collected by the venue owner instead of the network operator. The venue will then pay out to Securtix what they owe based on the revenue agreement. Securtix will be able to keep track of the number of printouts made remotely. The company will provide hands on support for any problems -- they expect to have contractors on hand to hit any locations that uses their service.

Parker says the Hot-Spot-Printing program is "already popular with some hotspots here in Houston. The color is excellent. We'll do all the marketing (table tents, window stickers, neon signs, etc.) and we expect it to grow as it gets rolling."

While Securtix might have the first printing solution geared toward hotspots, a number of companies are offering Wi-Fi print solutions for corporate printers. Instead of the parallel-port based print-servers found on many wireless SOHO products, the products are Ethernet to Wireless bridges that specifically work with printers that have built-in Ethernet RJ-45 jacks. IBM this week announced the $212 IBM 802.11b Wireless Print Adapter, which specifically targets IBM's own line of workgroup printers; Lexmark's similar Wireless Print Adapter is $199.