FatPort's bringing Wi-Fi to hospitals; Piccadilly Circus is now a hotzone; hand-off between cellular and Wi-Fi has been achieved, and more.
Nothing is free in a hospital -- not the television, not the phone in the room, and not even in Canada. Hospitality Network (HN), which provides rental of such services to healthcare facilities around that nation, will soon be providing another service: wireless Internet access. It will be powered by FatPort, the Vancouver, B.C. based WISP, which will provide a completely HN-branded network that not only patients can use on a pay-per-use basis, but also for hospital staff via their IT departments. This is part of FatPort's Virtual Hotspot Operator program. HN will trial the service at a number of hospitals over the next few months. The company runs the patient TV and phone rentals at 300 healthcare facilities. -- November 7, 2003
Pigeons to get Wi-Fi? London's Piccadilly Circus area has now become a ReadytoSurf hotzone, courtesy of Broadreach Networks. Wireless coverage extends " from the steps of Eros through the Trocadero centre to the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square." Until the end of the year, this site and other Broadreach hotspots at locations like Virgin Megastores, Esquires Coffee, and BagelMania are free for use; most ReadytoSurf locations provide their own fixed terminals for access if you don't have a laptop with Wi-Fi. After the first of the year, they'll start to charge a monthly subscription fee for access. -- November 6, 2003
Luxembourg's Excilan said this week it's the worlds largest hotspot aggregator, with over 2,700 hotspots that can be accessed by its Pay by Mobile Phone service. Networks that sign up with Excilan can be accessed by anyone with a cell phone using SIM authentication (if their phone carrier is also an Excilan partner) -- they just dial up a number on the phone to get a passcode they enter in a Web browser to get Internet access. The jump in numbers comes from adding locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and the US (Surf and Sip is currently the only hotspot provider in the States listed at Excilan's Web site.) -- November 6, 2003
The Holy Grail of Roaming may have arrived... Radionet, a WLAN technology vendor, says that working with Ericsson, TeliaSonera Finland, and the Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) it has been able to perform the first "vertical handover," (VHO)in Helsinki, Finland. Meaning, it made a switch from a GPRS network to a Wi-Fi and Ethernet network without losing the connection. In fact, they did it while keeping a network application running. A key in the handover demo was Ericsson Research's Simultaneous Multiple Access (SIMA) concept; Ericsson and the HUT Product Modelling & Realization Group developed the applications and networks used. The VHO project is a program of the National Technology Agency of Finland. -- November 4, 2003
The railways -- where the commuters are trapped with laptops rendered useless due to lack of Internet access -- continues to be a growing area of hotspot usage. A new trial is underway on Trenitalia, an Italian train operator. One of its high speed trains has Wi-Fi in one train car to assess what passengers think. The solution (which costs 4.6 million Euros) was developed by a consortium called Fast Internet for Fast Train Hosts (FIFTH), using satellite for backhaul. The big difference here is that passenger laptops might still be useless, as FIFTH is using TV monitors to provide access. -- November 4, 2003
STSN, known for its network of hotspots in hotels, is providing high-speed services at the MediaLive International Inc.'s 17th Annual Next Generation Networks conference in Boston's Marriott Copley Place this week. STSN's iBAHN service will provide all Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections for registered conference attendees.
If you're sticking around Boston after NGN is over, check out wireless at the Boston Public Library (BPL). They started putting Wi-Fi into all their branches earlier this year, but this week the Boston Globe said the BPL is also install Wi-Fi for patrons who don't want to go inside the buildings. The main branch will have coverage outside Dartmouth Street pavilion on the Trinity Church side of the library. All you need to get free access is a library card. Eventually, they plan to have all one-million square feet of the main branch covered with Wi-Fi so book runners who gather tomes for library patrons can stay connected via handhelds that will tell them what books to get. -- November 4, 2003
KPN, a major mobile telecom in the Netherlands, will be launching a pilot program of over 200 hotspots in December. KPN subscribers -- there are about 5 million of them -- can pay five euros get 20 hours of access per month for the next three months during the trial. The company's subsidiary, Planet Internet, which provides DSL services, will also let its customers use up to 120 of the KPN hotspots. KPN has about 120 hotspots already, some acquired in a purchase HubHop, a WISP they bought in May 2003. -- November 4, 2003
Northern Ireland WISP Air-Wireless will be launching hotspot and hotzone services soon throughout the country this month. They say eventually they'll cover the whole 5000 square miles of the country with a hotzone, though the company's primary focus is on locations for mobile professionals, such as hotels, airports and convention centers. The WISP is partnering with PicoPoint of Amsterdam for all the back-office and roaming. PicoPoint is a founder of the Global Broadband Internet Access (GBIA) network, which hopes to create an international roaming network. -- November 4, 2003