Hotspot Hits for May 21, 2004

  • According to Frommer’s, budget hotel chain Microtel — the under 50 bucks a night chain — is bringing full 802.11b access to all its rooms in 266 motels around the country. And it’s free. They even offer free long distance calls. They expect to have the free Wi-Fi live in all locations by the end of the year. The installation has started on the east coast and is moving westward. — May 21, 2004
  • There will be no official Wi-Fi access at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. This according to Atos Origin, the system integrator for the project. They say there might be some public Wi-Fi offered by ISPs, but wireless will not be part of the official Games network. They cite security concerns and a lack of faith in the reliability of WLANs. — May 21, 2004
  • The 40,000 seat soccer stadium Gerland, home of the Olympique Lyonnais football team in France, is getting free Wi-Fi, primarily for the VIP and hospitality facilities. It will be installed by Adael Wireless, and is the beginnings of the company’s new hotspot business. — May 21, 2004
  • Wireless is cropping up at a couple of Singapore schools. The National University of Singapore (NUS) has built out a high capacity WLAN using Cisco 802.11g equipment, which they’re calling one of the first large-scale deployments of 11g in the Asia Pacific region. This network replaces the school’s existing 11b and 11a network, and will cover 100% of the campus (up from 30%). Broadband wireless is the solution going in at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore, a national teacher training institute there. NIE, plus the Riau Island Provincial Government Office in Indonesia are both going to get wireless backhaul courtesy of equipment from Wi-LAN installed by its Asian channel partner O’Connor’s Singapore Pte. — May 21, 2004
  • Ireland-based firm Research and Markets has a report out called “3G by Stealth – 802.11 Wireless LANs” that states deployment of WLANs is becoming widespread (shocking, we know). Overall, it’s a look at WLAN technology intended for operators. The interesting tidbit is that they say by 2005, “people in metropolitan areas may spend up to 80 percent of their time in WLAN hotspots where they will have free wireless Internet access without needing to roam onto 3G services.”

    In other research out of Europe: Broadreach Networks of London hired a firm to do a survey of 1600 rail travelers in the UK. 78% of them said that they would use Wi-Fi on the train and in train stations if it were available, “believing on-train connectivity is a clear reason to choose rail travel over other forms of transport.” 80% already do work on laptops while on the train. Yet only 10% have actually used a hotspot at this point. Broadreach says the findings indicate Wi-Fi users are 12 times more likely to use on-train Wi-Fi than any other public access wireless. 72% of those surveyed even said it would make them choose the train over other forms of transport. That won’t be good for sales of the Mini Cooper. — May 20, 2004

  • Earthlink’s trial of a proprietary fixed wireless broadband service, via partner DigitalPath Networks, is officially underway in Northern California. The price is set at $21.95 per month for downloads up to 384kbps and $29.95 per month for up to 1Mbps. It’s available in the following cities: Anderson, Biggs, Chester, Chico, Corning, Granite Bay, Gridley, Lake Almanor, Orland, Oroville, Quincy, Portola, Redding, Rocklin, Roseville, Susanville, Westwood, Willows and Yuba City. Look for it soon in Elk Grove, Folsom, Florin, Lincoln, Lodi, Modesto, Parkway, Rio Linda and Stockton — and expanding into Reno, Sparks, and Sun Valley, Nevada. — May 20, 2004
  • Next up on the happy-happy-joy-joy meter for how hotspots are doing (see below) is STSN, which points out that its hotel-based public access networks (including both wired and wireless) have tripped to 1,900 over just the last six months. They expect to be profitable in 2004. Digital mint on the pillow service is years away, however. — May 19, 2004

  • In the wake of the news about Cometa’s closing, it is time for the hotspot industry to rally and say everything is okay. Boingo has gotten in their licks, saying Cometa “succeeded in alienating the very people they needed” to succeed. Now Airpath Wireless of Waltham, Mass. is taking the highroad: Instead of pointing out how Cometa screwed up, the company is announcing today just good news, spelling out its growth to supporting 500 different WISPs running 3000 hotspot venues in 17 countries — and it claims to be adding 100 to 150 new hotspots per week, all powered on the backend by Airpath’s WiBOSS management platform. — May 19, 2004

  • The stadiums for the athletes of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece might not be finished, but at least the Wi-Fi is taken care of. Hotels and outdoor areas around the area will be getting high-speed wireless Internet access that tourists can enjoy, courtesy of WISP ACISgroup, which serves all of Greece and the Balkans. It will be using a mix of Proxim access points and Nomadix gateways for the WLAN infrastructure, plus Proxim Tsunami radios for wireless backhaul to hotspots. In the future, ACISgroup hotspots will also offer Voice over WLAN services. — May 18, 2004
  • The Westin St. John Resort and Villas on St. John in the US Virgin Islands says it was one of the first to offer high-speed Internet access, as of December of last year. Today they issued a report saying that more and more families are traveling and staying with them with multiple laptops — they even had a family stay for six weeks and use the Internet connection to do home-schooling. They said many families are coming with their own access points to turn their rooms into mini-hotspots. The guest rooms get far more Internet connection usage than that found in the lobby and meeting rooms. The resort has 282 rooms and 81 private villas. — May 17, 2004
  • Air-Q Wi-Fi is the latest hotspot provider to join the GRIC Communications virtual network. The two have signed a roaming agreement opening the Q-Spotz hotspots up to all enterprise customers using GRIC’s service. — May 17, 2004
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