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GT: News
Long Beach, Calif., Offers Free Wireless Internet Service

News Release, Jan 08 2003 10:52AM

Slow dial-up connections and Internet access fees are a thing of the past for shoppers, diners and visitors in Long Beach, Calif.

Now, visitors to the Long Beach's downtown area can connect to the Internet for free, courtesy of the city's new Downtown Wireless Internet District. Unlike other wireless "hot spots," which typically require monthly or per-minute access fees, Long Beach provides the high-speed access at no charge.

Thanks to a wireless network with wireless access points from Intermec Technologies Corp., anyone with a laptop or Microsoft Windows Pocket PC-equipped personal digital assistant with an 802.11b wireless radio card can access the Internet. The weather-proof Intermec MobileLAN 2100 wireless access points, based on the Wi-Fi 802.11b networking standard, provide a broadband connection to a centrally located switch at speeds up to 11Mbps. In comparison, an average dial-up connection runs at approximately 54Kbps.

To access the system, users simply open their Internet browser, which will automatically load a portal site for Long Beach's Pine Avenue Hot Zone. Users then can check e-mail, download files or just surf, all at speeds up to 50 times faster than with a standard dial-up connection. The Wireless Internet District, which can accommodate hundreds of simultaneous users, encompasses several blocks in Long Beach's downtown core, an area of restaurants and retail shops popular with visitors and business travelers. Future plans include extending the wireless network to the convention center, marina area and the Long Beach Airport.

The wireless network is designed to allow users to roam throughout the District without losing connectivity. For example, a user may be downloading a presentation while finishing a cup of coffee at a local cafe. With the network's roaming capability, there's no need to wait for the file transfer to be complete before heading down the street to do some shopping. To ensure this seamless coverage, Intermec conducted a site survey to determine optimum placement for the access points and antennas to maximize the range and speed of the network.

"We wanted to make sure that we provided easy, hassle-free connectivity with no gaps or dead spots," said Bruce Mayes, project manager for the Long Beach wireless HotZone. "Intermec's expertise in wireless network design was one of the keys to making that happen. And since the MobileLAN 2100D is designed to withstand harsh environments, we know people will be able to rely on the wireless network even on the rare days when it rains in Long Beach."

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