If you are in the know about WI-FI, then you
probably read that the newest wireless LAN standard coming out
is 802.11g which promises to offer faster online connections
while still being compatible with current 802.11a
If you, like many, are just hearing the term
WI-FI consider it a very techno way to take advantage of the
wireless communication phenomena underway
What is WI-FI?
WI-FI networks utilize free broadband signals
that are both available and extremely cost effective. You can
pop an inexpensive card into your laptop and, without wires,
access the Internet at high speeds for a host of online
services. The technology works via radio signals sent from
transmitters to users’ laptops.
A standard was created for wireless LANs
(local area networks) to promote interoperability of products
regardless of the manufacturer. The standard, referred to as
802.11, was developed by the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, which creates such standards for the
computer and electronics industry.
A handful of local governments are frontier
leaders using the cutting edge technology to make city centers
more attractive and functional.
Long Beach, CA, is one example where city
officials estimate a free wireless network will bring an added
interest to its downtown. The city was featured in the New
York Times in January when the pilot project was
Long Beach’s “Hot Zone” (a.k.a.
longbeachportals.com) is an area in downtown where free
Internet access is offered to anyone looking to do business or
for fun. The service is great for business people needing to
check their email or connect with corporate networks while at
lunch. It also gives users a quick electronic guide of places
to go and things to see in the Long Beach area.
The city’s portals, graphics and layout are
easy-to-use and incorporate the latest designs. The site is
very hip, and connecting is even trendier yet still cost
About Long Beach’s Wireless Hot
Chet Yoshizaki, Hot Zone Manager for Long
Beach, said that the project got off the ground in 2001 when a
Mayor’s Task Force on Technology was created to brainstorm
ways to advance technology.
The task force sponsored a regional symposium
and invited many area companies to attend, he explained. A
workgroup resulted from that symposium which in turn released
an RFP for the explicit purpose of forming a partnership with
the city to establish a wireless district.
“The initial cost was estimated at $300,000
and we knew that kind of money was not in the budget,”
Yoshizaki said. “Using our intellectual capital,
technology and marketing, the city was able to get most of the
equipment and installation donated by our partnering
companies,” he explained. With coordination by the city’s
Economic Development Bureau, four technology partners help
complete the Hot Zone connection.
How It All Comes
Tom Paradise, principal of Development Tech in
Long Beach, developed the concept, business model and network
architecture for the Hot Zone.
The system connects to the Internet at the
offices of Color Broadband Inc. Access is controlled through
Vernier Networks’ state of the art IS 6000 Integrated System.
Vernier, located in Mountain View, CA, develops and manages
Utilizing sophisticated radio technology
provided by Color Broadband, the signal is sent out to
Intermec access points located throughout the zone. Intermec
Technologies Corporation, a subsidiary of UNOVA Inc., provides
the wireless network and access points that allow users to
access the Internet.
The end user is greeted with an easy access
interface and web portal developed by G-site Web Design &
Consulting. The portal is hosted by Long Beach’s own
MMInternet, according to information from the city’s “About
the Downtown Long Beach Wireless Hot Zone.”
Yoshizaki said the costs involved are simple.
The city pays an annual maintenance fee of approximately $4000
G-site Web Design. There is a $390 monthly internet connection
fee paid to Color Broadband.
What Comes Next
Just this month the Long Beach Municipal
Airport began providing free wireless service. Yoshizaki said
the city may explore a wireless service zone at the city’s
convention center as well. He added that city staff will spend
the next three to six months evaluating the impact of the
wireless pilot projects.
Douglas H. Klein, Chief Executive of Vernier
Networks, told the Times that “You can think of these as urban
renewal projects.” He said that the company has noticed a
growing interest from local governments eager to find ways to
make their city centers more attractive.”
C. Brian Grimm, the communications director
for the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group, agreed. He told the
Times, “It’s high-visibility and high-value, and it permits a
municipality to easily serve its residents.”
For more details, check out the Hot Zone at
longbeachportals.com. Chet Yoshizaki, wireless zone manager,
may be reached at