Hotspot Hits for Sept. 12

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

September 12, 2003

The world or public wireless continues to expand as T-Mobile moves into more airports, other countries and gas stations; the north west of England gains WiFiPods while 'the Cloud' expands; downtown Baton Rouge gets a mesh; and much more.

  • The 66 UPS Stores (formerly Mail Boxes Etc. before being purchased by United Parcel Service ) in Chicago are to be the subject of a hotspot pilot program powered by Toshiba Systems Group (CSG)'s SurfHere hotspot network running the company's $199 hotspot-in-a-box products. Toshiba will also take care of the back-end billing (it is providing the network for McDonald's locations in the Chicago area, as well.) The UPS pilot takes advantage of broadband (DSL or cable) already installed at most of its locations. If the package carrier sees high demand for the service, it will likely roll it out to the 3,000 UPS Store locations in the United States. The pilot starts on September 16.
  • The apartment and office complex of Carillon Point on Lake Washington in Kirkland, Wash., will be using Wi-Fi services from national ISP Fox Communications to provide free Internet access to anyone associated with the location, from visitors to residents. The service, called FoxSpot, will cover the entire waterfront campus, marina, docks, restaurants and other common areas.
  • T-Mobile Hotspot -- already running one of, if not the largest hotspot networks in the world -- continues to add new locations to its foot print:
    • More than 40 Delta Crown Room Clubs at airports will be getting T-Mobile Hotspot service by the end of the year. Several are currently active in airports such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Tampa, and Salt Lake City. Any Delta SkyMiles members who sign up to use T-Mobile Hotspot at $29.99 a month before the end of the year will get 3,000 bonus miles; signing for the $39.99 a month unlimited plan earns 3,400 miles.
    • Not to be forgotten, the American Airline's Admirals Club, which are also serviced by T-Mobile for Wi-Fi, opened up a new club and Flagship Lounge in the Los Angeles airport this week, a 25,000 square foot area complete with wireless access.
    • Overseas, T-Mobile has launched public access Wi-Fi in the Czech Republic in eight hotel locations, with work begun on the Brno Airport. Another 14 locations are under way as well. Reportedly, all these Czech locations are currently free as T-Mobile's billing system apparently isn't in place yet.
    • Texaco stations in the United Kingdom will also be joining the T-Mobile network. They two companies have signed an agreement to put hotspots in 'several hundred' service stations on major roads. The current T-Mobile service in the UK is at 56 Starbucks around the islands.

  • Alvarion and Starhome GmbH (a subsidiary of Comverse , both companies from Israel, are starting a hotspot service. The new service will use Alvarion's carrier-grade equipment and will be managed by Starhome, which already manages 160 million cellular customers. The service will be offered to mobile operators, such as the 45 cellular carriers that are already Starhome customers.
  • Queensland, Australia, is going to offer government backed Wi-Fi in a 12 month trial in 20 locations -- railway stations, sprots venues, court rooms, and more -- along the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, to gauge interest in Wi-Fi use. The service will be run by Hotspot Global of Sydney, which will bring together a consortium of businesses to provide services. That includes support from Intel. A key requirement for the trial was use of a "single infrastructure" that could be used by multiple WISPs, thus providing a single bill for customers. Rollout should be completed in October.
  • Look for WiFiPod's soon in the north western sections of Great Britain. Nublu Technologies is launching this hotspot service and is in a strategic partnership with PicoPoint to use the latter's roaming and back office platform. The WiFiPod service will offer "connectivity packs" with USB-based 802.11b adapters and manuals so users not currently equipped with Wi-Fi can still get online through the locations. Nublue expects to have 100 WiFiPods operational in in the UK by the end of the year.
  • UK hotspots are hot this week: Inspired Broadcast Network's "The Cloud" is also getting a push, in a deal with NWP Spectrum, a company which runs Internet kiosks and payphones. By partnering to put access points in NWP Spectrum's equipment, the Cloud could grow from the announced 3,000 sites to 7,000. Currently the Cloud has 1,800 locations installed. One of the first NWP Spectrum sites to enter The Cloud will be in London's Leicester Square.
  • Back in the U.S, namely Philadelphia, Pa., comes word from FTS Wireless (a subsidiary of FTS Apparel ) that it has launched its first hotspot in the suburbs of that city. Based in Tampa, Florida, FTS Wireless has a couple hotspots there as well.
  • The Parisian Brasserie La Coupole brewery in, of course, Paris, is getting hotspot service in its public areas: conference rooms, restaurant, and night club. The service will be from Adael Wireless.
  • September 19 and 20 will be "Wireless Lab Park Days" in Manhattan, a two day event sponsored by Nycwireless and The Downtown Alliance to promote the fact that free Wi-Fi is available in lower Manhattan and to show how it impacts arts and the community. It will be held each day from noon to 4pm at City Hall Park.
  • Netherlands-based WinQ -- the first with a hotspot in Europe certified as a Wi-Fi ZONE by the Wi-FI Alliance -- is partnered with TOGEWAnet to use its WeRoam service for integrating WLAN and GSM access. Thus any customers of GSM operators that subscribe to WeRoam -- which opens up the Wi-Fi to SIM/RADIUS based authentication -- can also use WinQ's hotspots. The user simply needs a SIM card for authentication.
  • Fatport of Vancouver, British Columbia, is now in a roaming agreement with Surf and Sip of San Francisco, which has close to 500 hotpsots in the US, UK, and Europe. Fatport subscribers can use the Surf and Sip sites at no extra charge. Fatport is also in roaming agreement with Boingo Wireless.
  • McDonald's continues to embrace Wi-Fi faster than you can scarf down an order of six-piece McNuggets. Now the company is saying by mid-September it will have Wi-Fi service in all of its restaurants in Guangzhou, China, which is in the Guangdong Province in the southern part of the country. This, of course, is a pilot program (much like what its doing in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago), and the results will determine how the fast food chain deploys hotspots in other areas of China. Most of the McDonald's restaurants in the country are owned by the corporation, but they did just open their first franchise location in the Tianjin Municipality in the north. In other parts of the world, 75% of the locations are owned by franchisees.
  • StayOnline, which concentrates on providing high-speed connections in hotel properties, is adding service to eleven locations run by Pineapple Management Services over the next two months. These include nine Fairfield Inn by Marriott locations in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas; and the Courtyard by Marriott in Beaumont, Texas. All together the hotels have 885 rooms, all of which will be covered by a Wi-Fi connection. Lobbies, too. Pineapple is buying four more Marriotts soon and those will also be covered in StayOnline's Wi-Fi service.
  • Gemtek Systems in the Netherlands, which supplies Wi-Fi public access solutions for carriers, is teaming with Wificom Technologies, which provides back-end billing and management. The Wificom SAB server will be made completely interoperable with Gemtek's product line. Trial systems combining the two are already running in Europe.
  • Verge Wireless Networks of installing a wireless hotzone in downtown Baton Rouge, La., using equipment from Tropos Networks. This Wi-Fi-based cloud will blanket the area for residents, tourists, and businesses to take advantage of for wireless Internet access. Access for the public will be free, and Verge plans to have pay-as-you go services, such as VPN access for those who need it, like the state government workers (Baton Rouge is the state capital). The Tropos products use a wireless mesh system to communicate, so each access point does not need separate backhaul.

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