Hotspot Hits for November, 2006

The state capital of New York, Albany, today announced plans to deploy Cisco ServiceMesh equipment (via integrator Tech Valley Communications) throughout the city. The network will be used by the public, visitors, and by city employees. That includes use of the 4.9GHz spectrum reserved for first responders.

Cisco equipment will also be used  by Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) to unwire the northern part of Singapore. This is part of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) project delivering wireless broadband to all areas of the country. Cisco expects deployment of 2,400 mesh access points by May of next year.

November 28, 2006

Wi-Fi use more than doubled worldwide from January to October of 2006. That’s according to iPass, which measured a 111% increase in sessions (one user logging on one or more times per day at a single location) during that time. Hotels saw the most growth (146%), with cafes and retail venues up 81%. They even narrowed down the most used Wi-Fi cafe in the country: the Starbucks Coffee on the intersection of Cole and Lemmon in Dallas, Texas. Even with the high growth in those areas, airports had the largest portion of overall sessions at 48%, though that might be skewed a bit by iPass adding an increased number of airport locations. Users in hotels stayed online the longest, around 145 minutes on average, compared to 68 minutes in cafes and only 39 minutes in airports. Next time, iPass can report on even more venues. The 7,500 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. with Wi-Fi from Wayport are being added to the virtual network, letting iPass subscribers sign-on with no extra charges. Wayport’s other locations in hotels and airports have been part of the iPass network since 2002. The new locations put the iPass network at 70,000 locations around the globe.

The Cloud is expanding its city-wide Wi-Fi networks in Europe over the next two years. They’ve deployed in 16 cities including areas of London and Amsterdam. It plans to respond to requests for proposal (RFP) from Paris and Prague. The company created a Metro WiFi division earlier this year and recently announced deals to unwire Stuttgart, Germany and Karlskrona, Sweden.

November 27, 2006

Just as many schools start to enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi access, at least a few in England are afraid of it. Or, rather, the parents of the pupils are, according to the Times of London report from last week. Parents lobbied the headteacher at the Prebendal School in Chichester, West Sussex, to get rid of the Wi-Fi equipment, citing concerns for the health of children. The school did it, saying there were no studies to prove it was safe. Never mind that no studies show it unsafe, either. (They also said it didn’t work very well, anyway.) The same thing happened at Ysgol Pantycelyn, in Carmarthenshire. At Stowe School in Buckinghamshire west of London a teacher got sick after the network was installed in his classroom, prompting its removal. At least one woman in Stoke Newington told that she can tell whenever Wi-Fi is around her by how it makes her feel “exhausted, nauseous and sleepless.” The blow-back on blaming Wi-Fi for sniffles, migraines, and more in the country is so bad that the council in Norfolk is openly defending its £1.1 million Norfolk Open Link project meant to deliver free broadband to the masses against such attacks. Wi-Fi already blankets the city center, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the Norwich Science Park via 200 access points on lamp posts.

Despite delays in Philly and problems getting off the ground in San Francisco, EarthLink continues to gain customers for municipal Wi-Fi. The latest was announced today. Alexandria, Virginia wants the company to build and run a 16-square-mile network. Formal announcement won’t come for another three weeks, until after the public gets to review and comment. EarthLink will be mandated to provide $10 a month access for low-income residents and free service in two dozen public venues yet to be determined, as well as selling wholesale access to other partner WISPs.

Four parks in downtown Skokie, Illinois, are now hotspots under the brand SkokieLink. Users can find the free service in the library and at Memorial Park, Veterans Park, Oakton Park, and the Village Green according to the Chicago Tribune. The city installed the networks to the tune of $50,000 and somehow pays only $50 a month to main tain it.

November 15, 2006

StayOnline, one of the early proponents of unwiring as many hotels as it could for business travelers, is being bought out by LodgeNet Entertainment Corp., a company that installs TV and broadband services for hotels. The acquisition will cost $15 million cash. The deal, expected to close in early 2007, will give LodgeNet control of Internet services to 175,000 hotel rooms across the U.S., five times what it has today. StayOnline provides services for chains like Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Omni and others.

November 14, 2006

Singapore wants to be a wireless nation, and has apparently picked partners to get there, at least for the eastern portion of the island. iCell Network will install a mesh network using equipment from Firetide to provide free Internet access to citizens and eventually for higher-end applications. The network will be managed using the new Firetide HotView Controller software, which will let even mobile nodes in cars or trains operate while moving. This is all part of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s [email protected] initiative.

Caribou Coffee is ready to proclaim success with its rollout of free Wi-Fi (courtesy of Wandering Wi-Fi) in 340 of its 500 cafes. The reason? An increase in customer use of 450 percent, shooting from 20,000 logins per month to 90,000. Customers are requested to make a $1.50 purchase after the first hour of use; no word on how many of the 90,000 logins per month do that.

Kite Networks, a division of MobilePro, has installed 300 Cisco access points in the city of Farmers Branch, Texas. The network is now open for customer subscriptions. The cost is $30 a month for 2 Mbps upload and download, $25 for 1.5 Mbps up and down, $20 for 1 Mbps, $10 for a day or $5 an hour (both at 1 Mbps). There’s a one-time $70 fee to buy a PEPlink “wireless modem” to go in a customer’s home or business.

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida is calling the fight between providers to get the contract to unwire the 60 square mile city a David and Goliath fight, with local Citi Wifi taking on the big guns of EarthLink. The two beat out all other bidders. EarthLink estimates 2,400 access points will be needed, and it will cost around $7 million to install the nodes. Citi says $8 million for 1,770 nodes from a different vendor (EarthLink uses Tropos products, which Citi says won’t do the job).

Cisco says it has eight new cities to announce that are putting up metro-scale Wi-Fi networks using the company’s mesh equipment. They are: Fredericton, New Brunswick; Gilroy and Santa Rosa, California; Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina; Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario; and Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania.

November 10, 2006

Frontier Mobile wireless broadband will be deployed in Burnsville, Minnesota (pop. 60,000), a fast-growing suburb of the Twin Cities. Other cities with Frontier wireless broadband include Cookeville, Tennessee; Carlinville, Illinois; and Elko, Nevada — as well as SUNY Orange County.

Like Silicon Valley, the Sacramento area, Wastenaw County in Michigan and others, ten cities in the state of Colorado have formed a consortium — Colorado Wireless Communities (CWC) — with the goal of getting Wi-Fi in their area, with a combined population of 620,000 spread over 220 square miles. CWC will issue an RFP to that effect soon, maybe this month. The cities include Arvada, Boulder, Broomfield, Golden, Lakewood, Louisville, Northglenn, Superior, Thornton and Wheat Ridge. [via MuniWireless]

JiWire’s latest HotStats report for the fourth quarter says that, according to the numbers in its online directory of Wi-Fi hotspots, there are some 125,000+ locations worldwide, with the United States topping the list with 41,758 venues (London, England is the top city with 2,107). And how many are paid hotspots? Only 10,156 — a measly 8.1%. Is it any wonder people expect the service for free?

November 8, 2006

People are still building hotspots? When entire cities are going Wi-Fi? It’s true, and ABI Research‘s new Wi-Fi Hotspot Forecasts say the number of them will almost double this year, to a worldwide total of 143,700. Three quarters of them are in North America and Europe, but Asia is on the march and will pass both other areas by 2011. Europe is the current leader, with many retailers installing Wi-Fi service. And voice is going to be a big help in pushing the units, especially when travelers have a fixed/mobile convergence phone (supporting both Wi-Fi and cellular) that they can use in their hotels.

Last week, Boingo Wireless expanded its network in Singapore to include 347 locations through SingTel and 200 locations through StarHub (including 35 Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations), plus another 300 hotspots in the Philippines from GlobeQuEST (including the airports and more Coffee Beans). Boingo now has 60,801 roamable hotspot locations worldwide.

News Around the Web