A downtown Hot Spot
Wireless: A new
way to take your computer to lunch.
If your laptop computer is equipped with a wireless card, you
should take it to lunch in downtown Long Beach. You can surf the
Internet while you scoff down sushi, and the connection is free for
For a city eager to become a high-tech center, this is a
technological treat. Also, for a pittance, Long Beach has generated
attention in The New York Times, on CNN and in other media with
global audiences. Mayor Beverly O'Neill was getting phone inquiries
from far and wide before the service even officially started.
The service starts officially today, but unofficially there's
been a Hot Spot, as the city calls it, for a week or so in the
vicinity of Pine Avenue between First and Fourth streets. One reader
who tried it said it works great, although he passed along a
technical tip: If your computer uses WEP (wired equivalent privacy),
it might have to be turned off manually to make the downtown
connection, then turned back on for normal service. (No, we don't
have a clue as to how you turn WEP off or on.)
The free Internet service uses the standard known as WiFi, which
is becoming widely used in homes and offices and at some airports.
Long Beach is the first big U.S. city to offer the service without
charge downtown, and plans to extend the free service soon to the
Convention Center and Long Beach Airport. There will be no time
limit at those locations.
Most of the equipment for the downtown service was donated by
private firms, including G-site, Intermec, Vernier Networks and
Color Broadband. The city's operating cost will be about $4,000.
Even at a time of deep budget cuts, that is a bargain. The global
publicity is a big bonus.
For Long Beach's downtown diners, convention-goers and airport
travelers, Hot Spot is a cool service.