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RealTime IT News

Hotspot Hits for March, 2005

Week of March 29-April 1, 2005

  • ICOA Inc.'s iDockUSA division has launched Wi-Fi service at its 41st marina, the Ventura Yacht Club. The signal covers the entire facility, including all slips. iDock already had service at Ventura Harbor and Ventura West Marinas I and II. Boaters pay $30 a month for a single computer, or $60 a month for up to three computers, with discounts when paying for 3, 6 or 12 months at a time. Single day access is $8.—April 1, 2005

  • Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, may be getting a downtown hotzone. A trial deployment of WazChandler network is underway from Neoreach, the wireless division of MobilePro, to cover both indoors and outdoors, including the historic San Marcos Hotel. Local ISPs including Cox Cable are working with the WazAlliance, and they'll provide broadband services over the wireless network. WazAlliance is also behind the hotzone coverage in downtown Tempe, which may soon expand to 40 square miles if approved.—April 1, 2005

  • The recently approved Omni Hotel for Fort Worth, Texas, going in next to the convention center, will have complimentary Wi-Fi access in all 600 guest rooms, the 48,000 square foot meeting areas, restaurants, and the pool.— March 31, 2005

  • Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas, will likewise feature Wi-Fi in all 500 guest rooms, now that it's completed $13 million in renovations. Service is from T-Mobile Hotspots, and covers also the public areas; meeting rooms, however, have complimentary wired and wireless connections.— March 31, 2005

  • Brand new Barnes & Noble bookstores (some opening soon, some just signed for construction) in the Grand Teton Mall in Idaho Falls, Iowa; South Hills Village in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Happy Valley Towne Center in Phoenix, Ariz.; Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, Ariz.; Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton, Conn.; Genesee Valley Center in Flint, Mich.; and St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, Fla. will all sport SBC FreedomLink service at a cost of $4 for two hours or $20 per month.— March 31, 2005

  • The Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express AAA baseball team of Round Rock, Texas, is going to be one big hotspot. This $20 million stadium, which is of course named and sponsored in part by Dell Computer, will have Wi-Fi service available to everyone, from players to press to spectators to vendors in all areas. Service is courtesy of Austin, Texas-based Wayport, which will charge $4 per day for individuals, less for groups. The service will be live this week for the season opener between the Express and the Houston Astros. During the first five home games, Wayport will hand out free promotional coupons, and Dell will be onsite with laptops to demonstrate just what you can do. —March 29, 2005

  • Global Wi-Fi Plus has entered an agreement with a property owner in San Diego to get rights to put GWP's customized Wi-Fi hardware on the top of Dictionary Hill. This will give GWP access to 29,000 households as potential wireless broadband customers in various part of the county, including Lemon Grove, LaMesa, Spring Valley, Casa De Oro, Grossmont Center, Goodland Acre Park, and Eucalyptus Park. It would even cover most of the Orange Line of the San Diego Trolley that travels a 15-mile route from Dictionary Hill into downtown. The equipment should be installed by the end of 2005. —March 29, 2005

  • Want to try CDMA-based Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO), the wireless tech with better coverage than Wi-Fi (say, a whole city), but at speeds of only 300-500 Kbps (with occasional bursts up to 2.4Mbps)? Verizon is trying it in a few cities, and now another regional carrier, Alltel is in the act. Its Axcess Broadband service is now running in three major cities: Tampa, Florida, and Akron & Cleveland, Ohio. Laptop users need an EV-DO card ($160 with a two-year contract, $220 with a one-year contract), and service is $70 per month for unlimited use. —March 29, 2005

    Week of March 21-25, 2005

  • SBC is building a wireless network for the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, which will give the school's 16,000 students plus faculty and staff access to the network from anywhere on campus. The network will be built using mesh equipment from Nortel Networks. —March 24, 2005

  • Addison, Texas wants to be a "completely digital wireless community," maybe the first in the state. That's because, while this Dallas suburb only has 15,000 residents, it has 100,000 people that commute there each day to work in its office towers—all ripe for using Wi-Fi at $6 per hour (there are daily and monthly rates available). The network, set up by RedMoon, uses Tropos mesh hardware with Airpath Wireless running the back-end, plus point-to-multipoint equipment from Trango Broadband Wireless for backhaul. It should be live citywide by this summer.—March 23, 2005

  • Irish Broadband of (duh) Ireland is planning to expand its wireless broadband service, and has purchased $4.3 million dollars in "pre-WiMax" equipment from Alvarion to be used over the course of 2005. Last November, Irish Broadband extended coverage to the cities of Dundalk, Drogheda, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford using the BreezeMAX 3500, which Alvarion says is "WiMax-ready." Home access using BreezeLite products costs 48.40 Euros per month.—March 23, 2005

  • MCI (which is soon to be gobbled up by either Qwest or Verizon) is expanding access for its remote access subscribers that use Wi-Fi hotspots, through a partnership with Boingo Wireless. The move will double the number of hotspots users can access to about 6,200 in countries like the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Greece, Singapore and the Philippines. Boingo, and by extension MCI, expects to have 3,400 more locations up and running this year. MCI's Remote Access Services also lets users go online via dialup and DSL. —March 22, 2005

  • Wayport's latest hotspot hotel: the Holiday Inn Waldorf in southern Maryland. Wireless access will be found in all 191 guest rooms as well as the common areas, including the 5,000 square foot events area. —March 22, 2005

  • Nortel is going to provide resort-wide wireless coverage at the soon-to-open Black Stone Golf & Resort on Korea's Jeju Island. The network will allow use of VoIP phones, and Nortel's mesh infrastructure equipment will cover indoor and outdoor use of laptops and PDAs. Black Stone will open in May. —March 22, 2005

  • Hotspot consolidation for recreational vehicle users: RV Wireless is buying a "working interest" in Connectifi, which runs public Wi-Fi services (called RVwifi ) in 18 locations across the states of California and Arizona, including not just RV parks but also model homes, some of which have as many as 3,500 visitors in a season. RVwifi is also on the Airpath Provider Alliance network, so subscribers get access to another 3,400 hotspots worldwide. —March 22, 2005

  • FireTide has new customers for its recently-announced HotPort mesh equipment. Culver City, Calif., which already had a FireTide mesh network outdoors for downtown visitors, will be extending the mesh to cover city admistration offices; Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C., will use HotPorts to connect buildings; and the State Fair of Texas is using the hardware to put in a video surveillance network covering all of its 277 acres. —March 22, 2005

  • Montreal's Eye-In Wireless is expanding its Wi-Fi hotspot operations. New partners for Eye-In include the Café-Bistro Van Houtte chain, Couche-Tard retail convenience stores, Dunkin Donuts, Presse Café and others. The company specializes in helping venues attract new customers and increase revenues using the Wi-Fi offering, and offers extras like VoIP access and even wireless video monitoring of the premises. Eye-In has an eye on expanding across North America. The company currently lists about 70 locations in Quebec on its Web site. It uses the EngageIP Hotspots Suite of equipment from LogiSense to manage subscribers and sign-ins.--March 21, 2005

    Week of March 15-18, 2005

  • The low-cost lodging (single rooms and dorm style) at Hostelling International in the West End area of Vancouver, B.C., now also includes a high-speed wireless network for guests, courtesy of local WISP FatPort. Standard FatPort service rates are $34 Canadian a month for unlimited access at all locations, or $10 for a 24-hour period.—March 18, 2005

  • Colubris Networks is setting up Wi-Fi at the Syracuse Carrier Dome to provide Internet access for the press at the Syracuse Regional Match for March Madness/NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball, from March 25 to 27. The pages Colubris serves up to users will also provide up-to-date game stats. The setup is through a partnership with Time Warner Cable of Syracuse. Colubris previously had equipment installed at Wimbledon and at the Baseball All-Star Game.—March 18, 2005

  • Researchers at Ipsos-Insight say that the number of people who access the Internet over a wireless connection of some kind went up 29 percent in 2004. That's 44 percent of the 171 million people worldwide that have used the Internet at all (this is all based on interviews with 6,554 people, the Face of the Web study). However, Ipsos says it's not necessarily because of Wi-Fi ubiquity—the majority are using their cell phones.—March 17, 2005

  • An Eagan, Minn., doctor's office -- Crutchfield Dermatology -- believes it is the first stateside medical clinic to offer free Wi-Fi connections to patients in the waiting room. If you don't want to surf, they also have flat screen TVs with cable channels, which is still better than my doctor's ancient copies of Boy's Life. —March 17, 2005

  • Nevada's Resort at Red Hawk, which includes the Wingfield Springs residential community along with an event center and two golf courses (The Lakes and The Hills), is the latest to go wireless with service from GPS Industries (via partner Satellite Golf). The global positioning/Wi-Fi combo network will cover both courses, and will be accessible by 170 golf carts equipped with GPS displays. —March 17, 2005

  • The city of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., recently tested a wireless broadband service during its annual IMAGES Festival art show, with exhibitors claiming that showing of full Web sites increased their sales. It was successful enough that the city is going to offer wireless broadband citywide for municipal operations, which will later be expanded to become a broadband service for businesses, then finally a hotzone for public access in 20,000 homes as well as for the thousands of tourists who visit each year (New Smyrna Beach isn't far from Orlando). Equipment for the network will come from 5G Wireless. —March 17, 2005

  • The Norfolk Airport Authority has signed a three-year agreement with Airport Network Solutions (ANS), a subsidiary of ICOA, to provide public (and private) Wi-Fi service at Norfolk International in Virginia, an airport that sees about 3.7 million passengers pass through it each year. Service will be available in all areas of the terminal. Service is $7 per day, but ICOA has roaming deals so subscribers with iPass or Boingo can log on without paying extra. —March 17, 2005

  • BelAir Networks provided the equipment and SpringNet (the broadband utility of Springfield, Mo.) provided the rest to cover the downtown area of that city, including the Discovery Center, Park Central Square and the Gillioz Theater areas. The access for end users in the area to get online is completely free. Funding was provided by the Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District.—March 15, 2005

  • SkyTel has a trial hotzone in New Orleans' Warehouse District. It's active right now, and is freely accessible by those at the CTIA Wireless 2005 show at the Convention Center. The network uses Tropos Networks MetroMesh hardware for client connections, Motorola Canopy for backhaul to the SkyTel NOC, and a Pronto Hotspot Controller for managing user access. Unstrung.com says that this network could be the start of MCI —which owns SkyTel—trying to develop a national footprint of hotzones using Wi-Fi mesh.—March 15, 2005

  • Aiirmesh Communications, the WISP behind the successful deployment of Wi-Fi for Cerritos, Calif. and surrounding areas, isn't content with Wi-Fi for homes and offices. Now they'll put it on COW. That's the Cerritos on Wheels public transportation system, buses that link the areas parks, schools, shopping and more, shuttling about 160,000 passengers per year. Brand new COW buses are out now, and will be part of the pilot program to see if residents use the PDAs and laptops to go online while in motion.—March 15, 2005

    Week of March 8-11, 2005

  • Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport opened the first of several new Business Centers today. The first is in Terminal C, adjacent to a new Starbucks Coffee. The other seven locations, in other terminals, will open by the end of April. The Business Center will offer leather seating in lounges, workstations, outlets for those with laptops, and high-speed wireless and Ethernet connections. Starbucks will take care of the coffee. The operation is partly owned by travel concession provider HMSHost (formerly Host Marriot Services). Interesting that they've set up a Starbucks, one of the few that doesn't have T-Mobile Hotspot service. But according to T-Mobile's Web site, the entirety of Terminals A, B, C and E are T-Mobile Hotspots. —March 10, 2005

  • The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Windy City is planning to pull a Philly. "Tentative steps" were taken toward citywide wireless when a task group was formed to study the best way to do it. Installation would probably involve putting up 7,500 nodes on light poles around the city to the tune of $18.5 million. No decision on whether service would be free or a paid utility, but expect the latter. The city alderman will have to draft some legislation to protect the embryonic network, however, as the state capital has pending legislation that would prevent municipalities from offering broadband (though it would not prevent a town or city from working with a private firm to provide service). The city's biggest wireless provider right now? The library system, with 78 locations to serve you.—March 10, 2005

  • Tropos Networks says its wireless MetroMesh router equipment has been successfully tested in Tokyo by NTT Communications (one of the many NTT offshoots), and is now going to serve as the basis for NTT Com's wireless broadband in rural areas and even military bases. First stop is the Iwakuni Air Station, a U.S. Marine base in Japan that couldn't get traditional wired broadband. NTT Com will offer the 3 square kilometer base 1Mbps, Wi-Fi-based broadband starting in the third quarter of this year. The company has fashioned some distribution deals in Japan of late, including one with Nissho Electronics (which worked with NTT Com on the Iwakuni deployment) and with Sumitomo Densetsu, which has sold equipment to VR Techno Center for use at the Flower Festival Commemorative Park in Gifu Prefecture. —March 9, 2005

  • Aernet Wireless, a WISP serving Atlantic Canada, has recently upgraded its extended-range 802.11b service with Terabeam Wireless's products using the proprietary TurboCell protocol (in fact, the new stuff replaced older Terabeam products). The goal was to avoid the "hidden node" effect, where interference is caused by more network nodes being added. Aernet has about 500 subscribers who can't otherwise get broadband— each gets premises equipment from Aernet. The company is also moving to Terabeam's Marquee 5.8 GHz OFDM units for backhaul, which also use the TurboCell protocol. The older equipment (EtherAnt II clients) is being redeployed in other areas less susceptible to hidden nodes. —March 9, 2005

  • Swisscom Eurospot says that since last year, the number of daily connections made on the hotspots it runs for partner hotels across Europe has gone up 200 percent to 6,000 a day. The service is available in a total of 170,000 guest rooms in 2,000 properties in 12 countries. 750 more hotels are set to come online over the next year. Some of the Swisscom partners are: AC Palacio, Meridien Porto and Lisbon, Sheraton Lisbon, and Crowne Plaza Madeira Hotel in Portugal; and Zacchera Hotels, Grand Hotel Rimini, Rome Cavalieri Hilton, Sheraton Bologna and Firenze in Italy. —March 9, 2005

  • GigaBeam says some of its high-speed WiFiber "wireless fiber" links (running in the recently-okayed 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz) will be used at the already ultra-unwired campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire—a school that's so unwired even the cable TV doesn't have cables. Seriously. WiFiber will be used to do a 1 Gigabit per second connection between two of the buildings on campus. —March 9, 2005

  • Lexington WiFi in Kentucky says it is expanding and by the 15th of March will be covering over 15 square miles. By raising its broadcast height from 55 feet to 135, the WISP says it doubled the coverage area using a single Vivato Outdoor Wi-Fi panel, and two more are coming online. When all is done, they expect to be the biggest hotzone in the state (and surrounding states). Once they add nine more nodes, they expect to cover all of Fayette County. —March 9, 2005

  • Fixed-wireless provider NextWeb says it is offering three new levels of service: OfficePlus Burstable for SMBs and branch offices (3Mbps for $160 a month), Super-T Burstable for various sized enterprises (1.5Mbps guaranteed with bursts up to 6Mbps for $399 a month), and Super-T Dedicated for enterprises with specific bandwidth needs (512Kbps up to 9Mbps, but with 24/7 support and 99.99 percent uptime guarantees). Service is available in 175 cities in California, including the Bay Area and greater Los Angeles. —March 9, 2005

  • The in-flight Connexion by Boeing service is now available for roaming from a few more roaming aggregators. First, the service is now part of Global Broadband Internet Access (GBIA), run by PicoPoint Technologies of the Netherlands. Members of the GBIA will be able to use the connection, offering it to their customers as part of their existing accounts. Those members include Monzoon, The Cloud, Surf and Sip, and others. Another new partner is BT Infonet, which provides the MobileXpress data service, used for remote Internet access by over 1,200 companies. Connexion is running now on flights from Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, ANA and Scandinavian Airlines.—March 8, 2005

  • The airports of Norway, including the Oslo International Airport at Gardemoen, as well as those in Bergen, Stravanger, and Trondheim, have all been united under the control of Wavelink and its Mobile Manager product. Avinor, the airport administrator, runs the Wi-Fi access at all the airports from a central network operations center in Oslo. Mobile Manager is now controlling 120 Proxim ORiNOCO access points at the four airports, and uses VLANs and multiple SSIDs to provide multiple services—one for public access and another for operations staff, from aircraft repair to baggage handling and more. In total, the four airports see close to 24 million passengers per year. As a hotspot, the network is rented out—the airport sells access to WISPs like Telenor, NetPower IP and Swisscom Eurospot to sell in turn to end-users. But Avinor will also let on any stray user with a credit card. —March 8, 2005

  • The top-rated Currituck Club golf resort in Corolla, N.C. is getting rid of its current global positioning system and replacing it with the hybrid GPS/Wi-Fi system called Inforemer from GPS Industries. The resort will be fully equipped with a Wi-Fi infrastructure by GPS Industries, and 80 golf carts will be outfitted with 10.4-inch color screens for using the service. —March 8, 2005

  • Wayport has been offering some content for download at hotspots for a while, but now it's going to branch out into music. The Austin, Texas-based company will exclusively let users of the Wi-Fi service in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport listen to local music, streamed to their PCs. The provider is teaming up with the Texas Music Group, which represents labels Antone's Records and Lone Star Records. Anyone connecting to the Wi-Fi connection in the airport will be offered the chance to get the streaming software and listen to local bestselling artists. —March 8, 2005

    Week of February 28 - March 4, 2005

  • Anchorfree Wireless has been offering Wi-Fi throughout downtown Palo Alto for a while, charging users about $5 a month for the privilege of use. The Stanford Daily found out, however, that that's no longer the case. The wireless signal on University Avenue between Middlefield Road and High Street is now free. The decision was made to go free because Stanford University students indicated in a previous article that, while they like it, they weren't willing to pay for it. In fact, the company indicated that it had to stop charging for access, or it would have gone out of business due to lack of use. Now they'll make their money through investments in the network. —March 4, 2005

  • William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, is now a hotspot, courtesy of Sprint PCS. 802.11b-based access is available throughout the airport, from baggage claim to restaurants to the gates. 8 million passengers pass through Hobby each year—when they go to log in, a splash page will offer up information such as flight departures and arrivals. Cost for Sprint PCS Wi-Fi is $10 per day. —March 4, 2005

  • Yes, it's true: all brand new Barnes & Noble bookstores that open in the U.S. now have Wi-Fi service from SBC FreedomLink. The latest is St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida. —March 4, 2005

  • Wi-Fi Net News (Europe edition) points out that the UK's PlusNet is, for the month of March, letting its home broadband customers get free access to select hotspots run by BT OpenZone. This doesn't include access to OpenZone roaming partner sites operated by T-Mobile and the Cloud. After March, access will be 7 pence per minute in the hotspot. That's right, PER MINUTE.

    Also in the UK, get ready to talk: users of Skype will be able to make free calls over the Internet while using the 350 ReadyToSurf hotspots run by BroadReach networks, located in Virgin Megastores, Choice Hotels and even railway stations. Skype users won't even have to log in to make calls: they can just launch the application, and it will be online. The hope is that people making free calls won't mind paying afterwards to check e-mail and surf the Web. Broadreach charges 3 pounds per hour for service (about $5.75). It will also cost extra, as usual, to use the Skype software to connect to the plain ol' telephone system. —March 4, 2005

  • CyberZONE is launching three new Los Angeles area CyberBrew Net Café locations, in Hollywood, Westwood and Beverly Hills. The cafés offer up computer terminals for those who don't have a computer, and they have Wi-Fi for the rest. The company will also open a CyberBrew in the Gaslamp area of downtown San Diego (CyberZONE's hometown), as well as that city's Pacific Beach area, a "tourist hotspot and student hangout." Previously, the company said it would open as many as ten locations in the New York City/Tri-state area and one in Columbia, S.C., with up to 15 more franchise locations possible there. The company expects to have as many as 50 lcoations open by the end of the year.—March 1, 2005

  • Israel's Alvarion says that non-profit Blue Sky Net will use its BreezeACCESS VL equipment to cover 121 communities with 117,000 people in the "Blue Sky Region" of rural Ontario, Canada with a wireless community-based network stretching 50,000 square kilometers. Blue Sky Net's job is to bring more broadband access to the area to attract businesses like technology firms, and has some funding from Canada's federal Broadband for Rural and Northern Development (BRAND) program. The network will be owned and operated by W3 Connex, which will pay for two thirds of the installation—which, in turn, will be handled by mmwave Technologies.—March 1, 2005

  • Hotel Wi-Fi provider StayOnline's latest partner is Hilton Grand Vacations Company (HVGC), a division of Hilton Hotels. StayOnline will be installing high-speed Internet access (HSIA) in eight HGVC resorts, including three in Florida, two in Hawai'i, and three in Las Vegas. This won't be just HSIA, though—the network will be used for VoWLAN and even for wireless curbside check-in for guests. Eventually, they'll use it for point of sale and for other applications that can be done with handhelds. —March 1, 2005