L.B. logs onto wireless Web
BEACH - Today, Pine Avenue. Tomorrow, the rest of the city?
In an effort to promote local business, Long Beach officials on
Friday unveiled the city's first high-speed wireless Internet ``Hot
Zone,'' a public-private service that allows visitors with laptop or
handheld computers to cruise the Internet for free along Pine Avenue
between First and Fourth streets.
Greg Davy, a spokesman for the city's Department of Community
Development, said he expects more Hot Zones to be deployed soon.
``We're phasing it in (starting with Pine Avenue) to see how it
goes,'' he said. ``The airport could be in the next couple of
months. We could blanket the entire city in the next year or two.''
An intermediate step could include creating Hot Zones that
encompass the city's marinas, providing service to boaters at the
city's harbors and tourists visiting Shoreline Village, and many of
the city's hotels, Davy said.
The point, he said, is to attract business to the city's
restaurants and business centers by giving people the ability to
keep in contact with their co-workers from their laptops.
All users need are a computer, an Internet browser such as
Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator and a ``Wi-Fi''
adapter card that's used for wireless computer networking. The card
uses an antenna to communicate with the wireless network, which is
different from Internet access over cell phone networks.
Wi-Fi is often used to share Internet connections and printers in
homes and offices and to offer Internet access at many airports and
coffee houses for a monthly or hourly fee. The cards are often
available for less than $70, and many newer laptops come with Wi-Fi
``We are continuing our evolution as a technology center,'' said
Mayor Beverly O'Neill, who officially opened the service at a
ceremony at Pine Square between Third Street and Broadway on Friday
morning by pressing a ``button'' on the Hot Zone's Web site on a
The service had actually been available for about a week, said
Lorenzo Gigliotti of the Long Beach firm G-site, which developed the
service's Web site. The site includes a downtown-themed Web portal
that promotes local businesses.
Chet Yoshizaki, manager of the city's Economic Development
Bureau, which is part of the Department of Community Development,
said most of the costs for setting up the network were picked up by
private businesses, which should benefit from exposure for being
involved with the project. He said he expects the city's annual cost
for running the downtown network to be about $4,000.
Gigliotti said the companies involved also hope to offset some of
their costs by accepting advertising on the downtown Web portal.
Those other companies involved include Color Broadband, a
5-month-old Long Beach firm that is providing the Internet
connection; Intermec Technologies Corporation, which set up the
network's wireless transmitters; and Vernier Networks, which is
providing the network's security services.
Doug Klein, the CEO of Vernier, said he was surprised that the
first major city in the western U.S. to set up a free Wi-Fi network
wasn't near his company's Mountain View headquarters.
``We never thought that Long Beach would beat Silicon Valley,''