The Forest Hill neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, was the subject of an article in this week’s Toronto Globe and Mail about how the area is hoping that its “free wireless Internet village” will help bounce it back from hard economic times following the SARS outbreak, West Nile virus problems and the August power outage. They hope the hotzone will help out the local merchants who’ve seen a sever drop in sales, as much as 30 percent. — October 31, 2003
What, another Wayport location at a hotel? This time it’s the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, on the southwest coast of Florida. This time, the Wi-Fi extends from common areas to all the hotel guest rooms, including 300 suites. This brings Wayport’s network of hotels up to 675 with high speed access (though not all of them include a hotspot). — October 31, 2003
Irvine, Calif.-based Toshiba America Information Systems made a splash into hotspots last year announcing hardware that it would sell for around $200 a pop. The Toshiba Wi-Fi Internet access service, since dubbed SurfHere by Toshiba, added another facet of service today by announcing that all of its locations are now “Enterprie Ready.” That means, they’ve received certification from hotspot aggregator iPass, who specializes in offering access from public networks that check out for use with virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls. The iPass client software can force a user to keep VPNs and firewalls turned on. SurfHere is currently in 475 venues in the U.S. while iPass recently announced that it had certified 2,500 Wi-Fi hotspots that its customers can access. — October 28, 2003
McDonald’s has been testing out hotspots in New York City and Seattle (with AT&T and Cometa Networks), Chicago (with SurfHere by Toshiba), and San Francisco and Portland, Ore. (with Wayport). The latter provider gets to put the wireless into McDonald’s next hotspot community: Boise, Idaho. That’s right, twelve of the Treasure Valley’s Golden Arches will soon be the latest additions to Wayport’s hotspot network — this means locations in Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, Meridian, and Eagle. The cost is $3.95 per connection, and if you get an Extra Value Meal or Premium Salad, you can get a coupon for two free hours.
McDonald’s now had a list of all its wireless locations available at www.mcdwireless.com.
Wayport also announced yesterday service for Starwood’s Westin Galleria Dallas. It’s a mix of wired and wireless coverage — wired in the guest and meeting rooms and wireless in the lobby. — October 28, 2003
PCTEL’s Segue Roaming Client software will be the official client software of Mzone, the Wi-Fi service of Japan’s NTT Docomo. This version, available to Mzone customers as a free download, will support Kanji, a database of Japanese Mzone locations, and the ability to switch connections from Mzone locations and other hotspots. It will support 802.1X for authentication. PCTEL’s been working on a version of the Segue to roam from networks like CDMA to Wi-Fi, and says a future release for Mzone will support this. The software currently runs on Windows systems (98SE on up) and PDAs running Pocket PC 2002 and up. — October 28, 2003
More wireless downhill: wireless provider Exwire of Olympic Valley, Calif., says it has installed “the first” wireless network of its kind at a US skiing resort, in this case Squaw Valley USA. (We all know what happens when you believe anyone’s claim’s of being “first” hotspot of some sort– at least they didn’t say North America, since we know the Whistler Resort in British Colubia is thoroughly Wi-Fi-ed). Exwire expects to eventually launch location-based and voice messaging services over the network in addition to the current Internet access. Coverage currently includes the base ski area, but will be moved up the mountain — they promise that by the season’s opening day people at the poolside at 8,250 feet above seal level will be able to use the network. Instructions are provided to users by a Web browser portal; access is $2.50 per hour, $8 per day, $23 per week, or $29 per month.
Speaking of downhill, there is, in fact, another spot for snow-surfers to at least stop for some Internet access. The Block , a hotel in South Lake Tahoe, has an Internet café set up by VisionWorks Interactive. The hotspot is receiving portable iGenie Web tablets from Access Data Technologies so those without a laptop or PDA can still go online. The access is free, but users will have to watch some ads. — October 28, 2003
Integrated Dealer Systems (IDS) of Raleigh, N.C., says it will “offer and deploy 3000 hotspots” in the next two years. The company, which makes dealer management systems for the recreational vehicle (RV) and marina industries, will naturally be offering hotspot service to RV dealers, RV parks, marinas and boat sellers. Their service, called Single Digits, is meant to provide seamless Wi-Fi roaming for customers. Business owners can market the service and share revenue with other owners when customers go from spot to spot. — October 28, 2003
Winncom Technologies of Solon, Ohio, which is owned by ARC Wireless Solutions
, has won the bid to put in a wireless hotspot at the Gumilev University of Astana in Kazakhstan. The company will be putting it in with help from local reseller ATK, and it will be used by students and staff at the school, in theory from any location on the campus. They’ll also be putting video conferencing units with high-resolution plasma displays in each class room. The expected completion date is in March 2004, they expect the entire project to cost $1.5 million US. — October 28, 2003