RealTime IT News

Hotspot Hits for November, 2005

SiriCOMM has seven new hotspot locations with Pilot Travel Centers. They include Sturbridge, Massachusetts; Winona, Mississippi; East St. Louis, Illinois; Vienna, Georgia; and Georgetown, Sonora, and Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. This pushes the number of Pilot locations with SiriCOMM hotspots to 262.

More than ready to get back on its feet after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the city of New Orleans will today announce plans to install a citywide municipal wireless network with free access for all, according to the Washington Post and other sources. The mayor also expects it to be put to use by first responders. The city will own and run the network, which will be built using equipment from Tropos Networks, donated by Tropos and Intel. The state of Louisiana prohibits localities from offering Internet service faster than 144Kbps, but the city is skirting the law because it is still in a state of emergency, and expects to provide speeds of 512Kbps. Eventually, they'll outsource the network to private managers, and will fight the 144Kbps limit when the time comes.

Concourse Communications is installing Wi-Fi service at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which serves nine major airlines and has 3.3 million passengers passing through per year in a newly expanded terminal. Once launched in February 2006, 802.11g connection service will cost $7 a day, with no extra cost to Concourse roaming partners like Boingo Wireless. The WLAN will also be used by airport tenants for business.

November 28, 2005

Today, with a "wire-cutting" ceremony expected to feature an appearance by Senator John McCain, MobilePro's NeoReach Wireless subsidiary will officially launch the 40 square mile WAZTempe wireless network across Tempe, Arizona. The network uses equipment from Strix Systems. If you hurry, you can probably watch the event live in a Webcast at WazMetro.com.

European metro-mesh-muni wireless networks have a boost from a deal between RoamAD (software back-end) and HiTel Italia (telecom hardware supplier). The latter will resell the RoamAD software with its multi-radio equipment as an OEM in the European market, and HiTel expects to announce a first deployment before the end of this year.

The city of Kent, Washington is building a public Internet access hotzone in its downtown. The first phase was completed downtown using Vivato Wi-Fi base stations and microcell APs. Anyone can use it for free for two hours each day.

November 17, 2005

Google has its first municipal wireless customer. The San Jose Mercury News says that the city council in the search giant's hometown of Mountain View, California unanimously accepted Google's offer to install 400 access points on city streetlights to provide free, low-bandwidth Wi-Fi to the populace. They have a five-year deal with the city; it should start with tests of the system by June 2006. (The article notes that the "gleeful approval" was made despite "concerns over radiation and privacy." Radiation? Are we back to that?) 1,000 Google employees live in Mountain View.

In case you didn't have a gaggle of kids playing Mario Kart DS around you this week when buying your Big Mac, Nintendo wants to remind the world that the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connections are live at areas all over the globe. Nintendo DS handheld systems at the various hotspots can log on using the integrated Wi-Fi for free multiplayer gaming (no Internet for Web or e-mail, though) for up to four players. The service works over home networks as well. In the U.S.,  partner locations include all the McDonald's restaurants unwired over the last year by Wayport. In fact, Wayport also installed hotspot service at the Nintendo World Store location in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. The partner hotspots are listed at www.nintendowifi.com (search powered by JiWire, so you can see all the other hotspots in the area as well.) If you don't like hotspots nor have Wi-Fi at home for some incredibly odd reason — maybe you have "concerns over radiation" (see above) —  you can buy their USB Connector for the DS for $35.

November 16, 2005

Chicago is the latest city to say, "Hey, maybe we should look at this wireless stuff." The Sun-Times says the City Council has a task force looking at the possibility of wireless broadband for the city. An RFP is expected that will seek targeted network installations in specific neighborhoods, moving up to citywide installs.

MCI's SkyTel is testing the waters of Wi-Fi with its UnpluggedCity program, starting with Lexington, Kentucky. Service is set up as a SkyTel-owned hotzone for the downtown area for now. Cost for residential users is $25 a month; small businesses pay $70 a month (both services include e-mail accounts and the first month free); enterprises can use it to replace or back up their T1 lines for $575 a month; and visitors to the service pay $6 an hour or $10 a day.

The latest market for Verizon Wireless' EV-DO (Evolution Data-Optimized) network, known as BroadbandAccess along with the V CAST multimedia service, is in Greeley, Colorado. Coverage actually stretches from Ft. Collins in the north to the Denver suburbs of Highlands Ranch and Parker in the south, including Denver, Boulder and even Denver International Airport. Unlimited monthly access is still $60 a month with a two-year commitment.

Proxim, now a subsidiary of Terabeam, says its equipment has been used to build the municipal wireless network for Burbank, California. The city, with provider M-Gravity, earlier this year launched a one square mile hotzone as part of efforts to revitalize the downtown. Now it's extended to include municipal buildings throughout the city, with ORiNOCO APs used for guest Internet access, plus use of their Tsunami products for connecting those buildings back to the fiber optic backhaul. As reported last month the network is secured with a controller from Bluesocket.

Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), the U.S. phone carriers established in a market, that are sick of having all these guys come in and set up municipal Wi-Fi, can look to Falcon Communications for help. The company — long an ILEC equipment maker — is going to build multi-radio mesh node equipment using RoamAD's software to run it. Falcon says it can be used for "large-scale muni Wi-Fi networks and campus hotzones, as well as highway/mass transit Wi-Fi networks."

Hotspot search engine HotSpot Haven says it has opened up its search API for Web sites, part of a program called Site Exchange for Publishers — for those Web builders who want to have their own hotspot directory on their local site, powered by HotSpot Haven. Alter the look as you like, and once installed, it'll start offering up hotspot location info.

Wireless Facilities Inc. (WFI) says it will be providing wireless services throughout the city of Tucson, Arizona. The services won't be for public use, though. The project is called Emergency Room Link (ER-LINK) and is for sending patient data from ambulances to hospital trauma centers. The network will be created with Tropos Networks' mesh equipment.

Koshimizu, a town located on Hokkaido Island, Japan, is getting broadband wireless service through provider Hokkaido Seiko Time Systems (HSTS). The company is using Alvarion's BreezeACCESS VL equipment running in the 4.9GHz band with OFDM modulation to avoid interference. The deployment was apparently so successful that other towns on the island are looking for service.

November 11, 2005

Ultrawideband used for broadband? Not just broadband, but how about broadband over gas pipelines? That's the word from a story on News.com that says Nethercomm of San Diego is using UWB to create a technology to provide high-speed IP services over natural-gas pipes. Some call it outrageous, while others think it could save lots of money for broadband providers.

November 10, 2005

Google might be unwiring its hometown of Mountain View, California, using the same proposal they put forth to San Francisco: 300 Kilobit per second (Kbps) wireless Internet access for anyone in the city, for free. The company submits its proposal to the Mountain View City Council this week for a discussion next week; the San Jose Mercury News says the mayor was initially approached by Google weeks ago about using the city poles and lights to host 300 access points to cover 12 square miles with 72,000 residents. It's interesting to note that Mountain View already signed an agreement to get municipal Wi-Fi from MetroFi, another local company, which provides networks in nearby Cupertino and Santa Clara, with Sunnyvale coming soon. Maybe it helps that Google is building a research facility in Mountain View for work it's doing with NASA and the Ames Research Center? Google also says it still has no plans to provide any Wi-Fi broadband to cities outside of the Bay Area.

November 9, 2005

JiWire says its online database of hotspots will be integrated into travel site Expedia, so customers making travel plans can also decide where to stop for wireless Internet access. They'll pay special attention to finding Wi-Fi in hotels and resorts around the world. JiWire says that 22,313 places of lodging are now offering Wi-Fi — more than restaurants and cafes.

Wireless Facilities, Inc. (WFI) has scored another city. This time, it has been picked "to provide network design and deployment services" for Temecula, California's proposed municipal Wi-Fi network in its Old Town area. They'll be using mesh equipment from Tropos Networks. Deployment is scheduled for early 2006. The network will be used by city workers and first responders, as well as local businesses. Last month, the papers were signed by WFI and partners to provide Wi-Fi in Madiscon, Wisconsin. WFI is one of Google's partners in its proposal for unwiring the city of San Francisco.

Speaking of San Francisco, the city is apparently ready to move from the RFI (request for info) stage to the RFP (request for proposal) stage in its quest for citywide Wi-Fi, rather than just deciding to work with one of the companies that submitted to the RFI — including the much-discussed Google submission. Meanwhile, Muniwireless.com reports that the city of Houston, Texas (pop. 2 million) may be the next major city to look at a municipal wireless network for its inhabitants. Like most of the other municipalities looking at wireless, there's few details — except that the mayor doesn't want it paid for by taxpayers.

Soldiers on the putting green at the Fort Lewis military base golf course in Fort Lewis, Washington, can stay in touch via Wi-Fi now that GPS Industries has installed its Inforemer system on 64 golf carts there. GPSI specializes in wireless and location services for golf resorts. This is their first military customer, though the course was also recently opened to the public.

Toshiba's MyConnect now has an International Access Program for remote access. Subscribers have to sign up for a United States base package ($40 per month unlimited, $20 per month for 30 hours, prepaid plans for three months at $110 or six months at $210, or $4 per hour pay-as-you go) and then pay an additional $13 per three-hour block when connecting outside of the U.S. MyConnect provides access to 23,000 public hotspots as well as dial-up and broadband connections, for a total of 54,000 venues in its footprint.

November 8, 2005

Usually, Verizon Wireless gets all the EV-DO mobile broadband love, but Sprint is not lagging far behind. The company's Sprint Power Vision network, based on EV-DO technology, is now available in 141 major markets and 250 airports, according to Sprint Nextel (check the location list). The company expects the service to be in 220 markets by early next year. Average connection speed for devices on the nework is 400 to 700 Kbps, with bursts up to 2Mbps. The cost to get unlimited access is $40 per month or $60 if you get a voice account to go with it, plus you get a free connection card for your laptop if you sign up before the end of this year.

Nortel equipment will power the mesh network going into the village of Dunrobin, northwest of Ottawa, an area that can't get buried cable.  The Internet access to 1,200 homes and businesses will be run by SimplySurf, a local WISP from Ottawa. It's a trial for SimplySurf, who says if successful they'll use Nortel mesh in more rural communities in the coming year. Cost starts at $30 Canadian per month, with a $250 setup fee.

November 4, 2005

To anyone surfing at hotspots in Westchester County, north of New York City, help is on the way! The county executive has submitted a proposed law to the Board of Legislators that would "require Internet cafes as well as commercial businesses that use wireless networks to take basic security precautions to protect private customer information from potential data thieves and hackers." He proved this point by actually going out wardriving with the county CIO. It doesn't say what will be required to have "basic security," except mentioning "low-cost personal firewalls," which wouldn't do it, and aren't exactly up to the business owner, anyway.

The 160 Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores will become roadside hotspots for travelers though a new deal with SiriCOMM. In addition to adding Wi-Fi, Love's will also be a SiriCOMM reseller for the InTouch service, so no need to go to the WISP to get online. SiriCOMM also provides services at Pilot Travel Centers. This new deal will give them 400 locations across the U.S.

Hot on the heels of its similar announcements for Japan, the United States and Canada,  Nintendo said this week that it's teaming up with BT OpenZone and The Cloud in the United Kingdom to bring wireless gaming to Nintendo DS owners. Starting November 25th, 7,500 hotspots in the UK operated by the two WISPs (including McDonald's and Coffee Republic, as well as several hotels, service stations, railway stations, football stadiums, the British Library, Canary Wharf, and even student unions on university campuses) will allow DS players unfettered access via built-in 802.11b (but no Web surfing or e-mail; just game play). Nintendo plans to hook BT OpenZone service up at various video game retail outlets as well. Home Wi-Fi networks will, obviously, get the DS handheld online too. Mario Kart DS will be one of the first games out to support multiplayer gaming over the wireless Internet connection. Other games include Tony Hawk's American SK8Land. The Wi-Fi support for the DS goes live in North America on November 14. The upcoming Nintendo console codenamed "Revolution" will also be able to use the wireless service. Watch NintendoWiFi.com for details.

November 2, 2005

Sprint is using the MobileAccess Networks in-building wireless system to provide Wi-Fi service at the 500,000 square foot Oakland International Airport in California. The service will be available to the 14.1 million passengers who pass through the airport annually.

The 33,000-student school district in Newport News, Virginia has 52 buildings, 45 of which are now unwired using equipment from 3Com. The company's Wireless LAN Mobility System is managing 500+ access points from a central location without requiring visits from IT staffers. The network is used for administration — including the student information system — as well as online testing, live video and probably even Internet access (though they don't confirm that last one).

The best wrap restaurant chain in New England, Fresh City — try the Shanghai Chicken — is opening a new location in North Andover, Massachusetts next week that's set to be bigger than most previous incarnations, at 4,500 square feet. Plus, it'll have free Wi-Fi access and an HDTV screen for public viewing. But seriously, try that Shanghai Chicken.

Remote access provider RemotePipes has done interoperability testing with RedMoon, and says the users of the RemotePipes IP Roamer service can now roam on the citywide Wi-Fi mesh that RedMoon provides in Addison, Texas. RedMoon also runs networks in Grand Praire, Burleson and Corpus Christi, but they apparently aren't part of the deal.

As reported last month on Wi-Fi Planet, the folks at JiWire are taking control of the Wi-Fi ZONE Finder for Wi-Fi Alliance. That revamped directory is now live at http://wi-fi.jiwire.com.

Riptide Wireless has extended its mesh network coverage in southern California to include more of Orange County, including Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, South Irvine, El Toro, Laguna Woods and Mission Viejo. Service starts at  $30 per month for wireless Internet access.

The 25-block Internet hotzone found downtown in the city of Burbank, California since May is now secured using a controller from BlueSocket. The network covers about one square mile, including various residences and businesses (including some "entertainment destinations"). It's run by M-Gravity. In the future, they'll put in VPN connections and a mesh network for municipal use.