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RealTime IT News

Hotspot Hits for February, 2006

Earlier this month, SkyPilot Networks said its mesh Wi-Fi would be used in cities across the African nation of Nigeria. However, at least one of those cities, Lagos, has Wi-Fi in place from a Citywide Base Station from 5G Wireless. The “cellular-style Wi-Fi” hotzone equipment (macro base stations on towers are augmented by smaller micro cells to fill dead spots) was put in by local WISP Polestar.

How many Wireless ISPs are there in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Seventy. Yes, 7 with a zero. We know this because Aspen Communications has created an online WISP database of all the providers in and around the city to make it easier for people to find a provider. Aspen itself is building a WiMax infrastructure across the city.

Speaking of Texas (because that’s where Dallas is), the hip town of Austin is now sporting new wireless broadband. airBand Communications (which also has service in Dallas and Houston) is putting in pre-WiMax equipment specifically for businesses looking into VoIP without use of the traditional telcos. The company guarantees 100 percent uptime. The first base station is running downtown right now, and more are coming, specifically to the Arboretum area.

Outdoor hospitality Internet provider (OHIP?) TengoInternet is going to provide Wi-Fi services at 34 properties run by Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), four of them in states TengoInternet is new to: Maine, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania. ELS runs 285 “quality communities” — AKA resorts — in the US and Canada.

February 27, 2006

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is moving forward with talks with two vendors about building a citywide wireless network there to be run as a public/private partnership. The vendors are US Internet and (no surprise) EarthLink. They expect to pick a vendor for approval by the City Council by the spring. Full deployment is estimated to cost as much as $25 million. The vote to get this far was contentious at best, with one councilman voting against the network; the issue appears to be about the ownership, with some saying the network should be entirely publicly owned. All this according to the Skyway News.

The Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena) of Cleveland, Ohio, home of the NBA’s Cavaliers and the AHL’s Barons, is offering Wi-Fi from AT&T in select locations including the press areas, food courts (including Gordon’s Sports Bar and the Bridges at the Q restaurant) and more, for anyone willing to pony up the $8 for a 24-hour session or $20 a month. AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet customers get unlimited access for $2 on top of their broadband service.  

February 24, 2006

Fiberlink has officially added the 6,700 hotspots run in the United States by T-Mobile to its virtual network. Fiberlink sells access to corporations for use by mobile employees, and is billing this as big for security of remote users, as it will take advantage not only of the 802.1X authentication of the T-Mobile Hotspot network, but also using FiberLink’s Extend360 client software for endpoint security and remediation of security policies set by the enterprise network. The company is still using Boingo for its primary hotspot network.

February 23, 2006

JiWire’s regular report about the state of the world’s hotspots is out, and it says that cafes and restaurants are the fastest-growing venues of choice for public access Wi-Fi, growing from 16,277 such locations in January 2005 to 34,544 in January 2006. Number one city of restaurant hotspots is now Tokyo, Japan, followed by London and Singapore; NYC is #1 for eat-in Wi-Fi in the U.S. Related report on hostpots is out from Research and Markets of Ireland, which states that there are 82,000 hotspots in the world, 40 percent of which are in the U.S. (JiWire, however, lists over 100,000 locations in its database.)

February 22, 2006

Last year, ICOA Corp. bought out hotspot provider Cafe.com. At the time, Cafe.com was offering Wi-Fi access at Denny’s restaurants for a fee, but as of this week, ICOA says the service will be available gratis to all Grand Slam breakfast patrons in locations with Wi-Fi access points (provided by Colubris) deployed.

When most universities are embracing the freedom of Wi-Fi, there’s one that's too afraid: Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Specifically, school president Fred Gilbert says he won’t let any Wi-Fi on campus until he’s sure that exposure to the radio waves doesn’t cause health problems (all this according to ITbusiness.ca). He compares the unknowns of Wi-Fi to the world not knowing about the effects of asbestos or  second-hand smoking for several decades. The school does have some wireless in place to extend its fiber optic network, but surely, no one in the dorms has any Wi-Fi routers set up. And they don’t drink beer, either.

February 21, 2006

As reported back in October 2005, Covad has finalized its purchase of wireless broadband provider NextWeb of California. The buy (for $3.9 million plus 16 million Covad shares) gives Covad 3,000 business customers using the service.

Wayport has some grand plans for the continent of Europe, mainly because of the explosion in the need for wireless broadband in hotels. The growth in 2005 was 60 percent, a number it expects to surpass this year, with the goal of gaining “the same market position in Europe as it today has in United States.” The company already operates about 140 hospitality broadband services in Europe; new additions last month include the Avenue Hotel Copenhagen; Park Inn Hotel Baku, Azerbaijan; and Radissons in Baku, Birmingham (England), Brussels, Paris (at Disneyland), and Jekaterinburg in Russia.

AT&T is planning to expand big in 2005 as well, in part with Wayport’s help, by providing access to AT&T Remote Access customers in 6,000 McDonald’s restaurant locations (powered by Wayport’s Wi-Fi World program). Roaming will also be provided in Europe on the 5,500 hotspots in the WeRoam network. In total, this gives AT&T customers 24,000 venues to visit in 52 countries. This is just part of an $8+ billion expansion that will include more DSL lines, more satellite coverage, more global network nodes, and more.

By early 2008, the 35,000 students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be online without wires courtesy of Meru’s Wireless LAN system. It was picked to provide services across the almost 1,458-acre campus using about 800 access points. It was chosen in part because of the way it supports both 802.11b and 11g without degradation.

European integrator Codium Networks says it will use “pre-Mobile WiMax” equipment from Navini Networks to power a wireless broadband network in southeastern Spain. The service will go through small, local telco/service provider Voz y Datos.

February 16, 2006

As announced in December 2006, iPass bought out rival GoRemote -- and as of today the acquisition is complete, giving iPass a veritable stranglehold on enterprise remote access. The actual integration of GoRemote’s services and footprint into iPass is just starting. The iPass virtual network of hotspots and other forms of connectivity covers 160 countries. The GoRemote buy gives iPass a stronger hold than it did in the past on the world of fixed-line broadband, like DSL connections.

February 15, 2006

Where's all the hotspot love? A report today from computer repair service RESCUECOM says that public access Wi-Fi use can lead to identity and data theft. Recommendations: get firewall software, turn off file sharing, ask your company to install a VPN on the laptop, password protect your files, turn off the connection to the network when you don’t need it, and keep Windows and anti-virus definitions up to date -- oh, and think about paying for your hotspot access. They say for-fee hotspots are less likely hacker targets. The problem with that is that In-Stat has a report out (called "3G and Wi-Fi: In Search of the Sweet Spot") that says no one wants to pay for hotspots (or 3G data services like EV-DO or EDGE) because of a “lack of perceived value by consumers.” So far, says analyst Allyn Hall, none of the mobile data services “have found the sweet spot, the perfect balance of speed, coverage and price."

Telegens, a WISP in Jamaica, will be using SkyPilot Networks' mesh equipment to provide wireless broadband services in the Caribbean nation. SkyPilot products use 5GHz radio frequencies to create a mesh backhaul. Initially, it will be used for “financial services, gaming and agricultural customers,” but the plan is to eventually provide video, data, and voice services to 90 percent of the island, even to those in large MDUs (multi-dwelling units). Telegens already has 30 towers set up to prepare for the deployment, with equipment already installed in Kingston, Spanish Town, Montego Bay and Negril metro areas.

Longboard (which used to be Persona Software, and before that, it was Longboard, which it is again) has struck deals with a couple of telecoms to bring use of its OnePhone fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) software into use for handset users roaming between 3G and WLAN networks. Partners include Kapsch CarrierCom AG in Europe, which will provide the software to its own carrier customers, and Coasin Chile in Chile, a country that claims to have three times the number of cellular wireless users of other Latin America countries. 

February 13, 2006

Boingo Wireless has a deal with KubiWireless of Spain which will tack on 250 new hotspots in that country to the Boingo virtual network footprint – including at the 3GSM World Congress show this week in Barcelona at the Fira de Barcelona convention center. Train stations and other locations are found in the city as well. Other cities with KubiWireless hotspots include Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Bilbao. Boingo says it now has 25,571 venues across the globe in its network.

The Association for  Communications Technology  Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA) did a survey about wireless networks at public and private  colleges and universities and found that, hey, people like them! In fact, 83 percent of respondents were pleased with their networks, and 70 percent of those institutions plan to expand or upgrade the networks in the next six months. 50 percent already have wireless covering a few buildings and 27 percent cover half the campus, with 23 percent already wireless campus-wide (and bleeding into off-campus areas). Security is still seen as the biggest challenge, right above coverage issues and cost.

Access Anyplace will be deploying a metropolitan Wi-Fi mesh network in Daytona Beach, Florida starting this month, using MetroMesh equipment from Tropos Networks. The city will give AA the rights to mount equipment, and AA will give free access to city employees in public safety, public works and other departments. The deployment will start downtown and around the Speedway and beach areas — including covering hotels that can use it for in-room broadband where none exists today. Eventually, the plan is to cover the entire city.

February 10, 2006

The Boston Herald says that, next week, The Boston Foundation and the Museum of Science will release a report about turning Beantown into a hotzone. The paper got a copy of the report (“Boston Unplugged: Mapping a Wireless Future”) and says Google, HP and EarthLink have already made overtures about building a network that would not cost taxpayers a dime. Last week, the mayor’s office said it would create a Wi-Fi task force looking into the subject as well, with representatives from local businesses and schools (including MIT, which is trialing a wireless rollout for Boston’s neighbor to the north, Cambridge). There was a wireless summit held in Boston last year to talk about a plan, but nothing came of it.

February 9, 2006

Luckily, we spoke too soon on the so-called Wi-Fi tax that was reportedly part of the Bush Administration's 2007 budget. RCR Wireless News says that the “new budget proposal to set user fees on un-auctioned spectrum would not lead to taxes on frequencies designated for Wi-Fi.” Whew.  

The walled city of Derry in Northern Ireland has “embraced the Wi-Fi culture,” according to a release from Invest Northern Ireland describing the full-coverage wireless expected to launch there by April 2006. Evolution Systems is the integrator, using equipment from Tropos Networks; the whole thing was put together by the local council of Derry, the University of Ulster Magee and the North West Institute of Further and Higher Education (whose campuses will be part of the network).

As many as 15 aircraft in the fleet of Air China may be retrofitted by Connexion by Boeing for in-flight Internet access. The install won’t start until October 2006, but is expected to be done well in advance of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, for routes to and from North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific Region.

Users of Europe’s WeRoam roaming platform will have a bigger platform soon, thanks to a deal with Airpath to use its InterRoam clearinghouse for signing on new sites, as well as joining the Airpath Provider Alliance. WeRoam uses SIM authentication (like cellular networks), and this deal signals one of the first big uses for SIM sign-ons at hotspots in the U.S. Airpath also has a new partnership with Tatara Systems, where the two will offer Tatara’s Mobile Services Convergence Platform in conjunction with InterRoam to give customers an instant hotspot footprint.

February 7, 2006

A tax on Wi-Fi? It could happen. The new Bush Administration 2007 budget plan suggests a tax (run by the FCC) on “un-auctioned” (AKA unlicensed) radio frequency technologies — like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and WiMax, to name a few — to help make up for the ballooning deficit. It would, in theory, raise $3.6 billion during the next decade. Who would pay it: the users, the vendors or the providers? Who knows. At the very least, the administration expects to pick up $25 billion by selling licensed spectrum between 2007 and 2009, most of that from the sale of 90MHz (the auction starts in June of this year) and other bandwidth that TV broadcasters don’t need, as they go to digital by 2009.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin is talking to Cellnet Technology of Alpharetta, Georgia about deploying wireless in Waukesha, with plans to present something to the city's Information Technology Advisory Committee next week. Cellnet is already installing a network in Madison. It would six to nine months to build out, and won’t cost the city a cent, though it would make money by charging rent to Cellnet for using lightpoles and buildings to mount equipment. Cellnet already supplies local utility We Energeis with wireless meter reading, so some of the infrastructure is already in place.  

Cambridge, Massachusetts could be looking at citywide free wireless, courtesy (in part) of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT). According to campus paper The Tech, the goal is to supply broadband to those in public housing, but the network would benefit all 100,000 residents. If the demand on the network is higher than predicted, there could be a charge for use, but the researchers in charge doubt there will be a problem. During this test period, MIT is the only school involved, but the network could be running citywide by the end of this summer. The network is using customized Netgear access points that are hacked to provide higher power output, and with new software to create a mesh topology.

Wireless access is now available at the Aeroports de Montreal (ADM) in Montreal, Quebec. This is courtesy of Bell Canada, which announced the agreement last year, and provider Opti-Fi Networks. It’s available throughout the terminal. Cost is $4 for 15 minutes, $9 per day or $46 per month.

Various cities in the African country of Nigeria — where home Internet access is a novelty — are going wireless through provider SwiftTalk. The Lagos, Nigeria-based company is using mesh equipment from SkyPilot Networks for its installations in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri, with more networks coming soon to Abuja, Ibadan, Jos, Onitsha and Aba.

The hills are alive with the signals of Wi-Fi: The Trapp Family Lodge in the Green Mountains of Stowe, Vermont — founded by the family that inspired “The Sound of Music” — now offers wireless Internet access. The integrator, Vermont-based NOWIRZ (get it? no wires?), used equipment from Colubris Networks to unwire the 100-room hotel, 100-room timeshare village and 40 luxury villas.

February 3, 2006

Xanadoo has launched its high-speed wireless broadband service — also called Xanadoo — in Lubbock, Texas, using equipment from Navini Networks. This is a “pre-Mobile WiMax” network using Navini’s smart beamforming technology to provide what the vendor calls Smart WiMax, a proprietary use of the 802.16e technology which is ratified but doesn’t yet have any shipping products. The hardware is Navini's Ripwave non-line-of-sight products, which the company says will be software-upgradable to the final Mobile WiMax standard. Zanadoo provides the Ripwave modems and PC cards to customers who use them to stay online wherever they travel in town. Later this year, the network will expand into Wichita Falls and Abilene, with more markets coming in 2007. Cost for the service varies by the type of user, but is as low as $15  per month for 128Kbps download speed with a desktop modem (which costs $50 extra), up to $60 a month to have 1.5Mbps via either desktop modem or PC Card ($100 extra to get both).

Not far away in Dallas/Forth Worth, Aspen Communications says that, starting in March, it will roll out a wireless broadband network for use by service providers. The network will be using WiMax equipment, but they did not announce the vendor. The company already has a network of 12 towers and buildings connected via 380 miles of fiber optic cabling in the area. The goal is to double the number of buildings by the middle of this year; the network will move from into McKinney, Grapevine and Frisco this month. The company says it can soon offer 10Mbps connections on a 300-foot tower in McKinney, Texas, for under $1,500 per month, which they call “unheard of today.”

The Superbowl XL festivities in Detroit this weekend will include Wi-Fi. The NFL has set up Motorola access point equipment at Ford Stadium for use by the 3,000 members of the media covering the game, specifically in the media center at the General Motors Renaissance Center and Ford Field press areas. All around the stadium will be MotoMesh equipment that the cops will use to video surveil parking lots and more. So when your team loses and you want to go out and overturn a car and set it on fire, remember, you’re on camera.

February 1, 2006

MetroFreeFi.com, the directory that lists only free hotspots, had released survey results taken from its database to show the 25 top college towns (with populations under 100,000 people) for no-pay wireless Internet access. The top five include Boulder, Colorado; Lawrence, Kansas; Bozeman, Montana; Moscow, Indiana; and Charlottesville, Virginia. The site's take is that the abundance of free hotspots means young people won't pay for Wi-Fi access, but even the top spot only has only 34 free hotspots for 94,673 potential users in the population; number 25 on the list, College Park, Maryland, has only four for 24,657 residents. (As with any survey taken from an online database, it's not comprehensive, since there are always providers who haven't submitted their locations to the Web site.)

The Digital Communities survey from Government Technology, an IT magazine for state and local governments, says that only 35 percent of the public consider wireless public Internet access to be "a significant community value." However, 61 percent think it will be great for the public if first responders have wireless applications while in the field. 51 percent have communities that are evaluating going wireless, with pilot deployments either in place or coming this year.