ONLINE EXTRA: What is a Wi-Fi? Find out here.

(Above) Photo from intel of their persoinal video player. Analysts are agog over the personal video player, or PVP, that chipmaker Intel and ReplayTV maker SONICblue are working on. Intel will show off several prototypes of the Walkman-sized PVP, with a 4-inch screen and storage for more than 10 hours of movies, at the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show. (AP Photo)


Going Wi-Fi to attract visitors
Business: Long Beach to offer high-speed Internet access free for one hour daily.
By David Rogers
, Staff writer LONG BEACH Will a free hour of high-speed wireless Internet access persuade the technologically savvy to spend their lunch breaks downtown?

City officials hope it will. Long Beach recently began providing free wireless access on Pine Avenue between First and Fourth streets and will formally unveil it at 10 a.m. Friday at the Pine Square shopping center.

"It's just a convenience for business people, travelers or conventioneers who want to go to (downtown) Long Beach for dining,' said Chet Yoshizaki, manager of the city's Economic Development Bureau.

In addition, Yoshizaki said the city plans similar free access zones at Long Beach Airport and at the Convention Center.

The systems allows users to access the Internet at broadband speeds by laptops or handheld computers, such as Palm Pilots, using an increasingly popular standard called Wi-Fi, Yoshizaki said.

Wi-Fi is commonly used to network personal commuters inside homes and offices. It's also widely used at airports, cafes and other locations, often for by-the-minute fees.

Wi-Fi adapter cards for laptop PCs are widely available for less than $70 and many newer laptops come with them installed.

In deference to local business owners worried about Internet surfers hogging up tables for extended periods of time, Yoshizaki said users will be able to use the downtown Wi-Fi network for only an hour a day. Access at the airport and Convention Center will be limitless.

Starbucks on Pine Avenue offers Wi-Fi access for T-Mobile "HotSpot' customers starting at a rate of $2.99 for 15 minutes.

The downtown Wi-Fi service has been available for the past few days, said Lorenzo Gigliotti, who owns the Long Beach-based Web development firm G-site. For the project, Gigliotti said his company "greatly discounted' its normal fees.

Yoshizaki said he hopes the city benefits by attracting visitors, conventioneers and diners.

Yoshizaki said that most of the equipment and services needed were donated by private companies, including G-site, Intermec, Vernier Networks and Color Broadband. He said he expects the city's annual cost for running the network to be about $4,000.

A log-in page automatically appears after users start their Web browsers. Users supply their e- mail addresses to log in, which Gigliotti said are only used for administrative purposes. He said the companies involved hope to recoup some of their investment through advertisements on the downtown Web portal he operates, to which users are automatically taken after logging in.

The Web site will also promote downtown businesses with links to local news, entertainment and dining, he said.

A growing number of cities are exploring the idea of installing such networks in downtown areas, include San Francisco, Seattle, Jacksonville, Fla., and Lodi.

Yoshizaki said the companies involved in providing the access in Long Beach should benefit from the exposure.

"It's a win for them and a win for us,' he said.