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Wireless Net City

The city of Cerritos, in Southern California, will be one big wireless hotspot come January 1st. This means that, wherever you go in the 8.6 square miles of the city, you can be connected to the net. Cerritos is too remote to have full DSL coverage, and too ill-served by its cable provider for cable broadband. The city worked out an arrangement with Aiirnet to provide "802.11 mesh" networking, allowing a given user to remain seamlessly connected to a single network regardless of which particular wireless hub she or he is actually connected to at the moment.

While this will be the first city-wide 802.11 implementation in the United States, the idea is taking off internationally.

(AP reports that the service will be free, but a more detailed report from the Federal Communications Workers journal notes that it will cost $40/month for a 500Kb connection.)

I suspect that the good people of Cerritos are in for quite a surprise. As those of you with Wi-Fi connections at home or work already know, a high-speed wireless connection is a viscerally different experience than a hard-wired link. Rather than thinking of the Internet as something that comes in through a little plug in the wall, wireless users start to think of it as something in the air all around them. Rather than information being something you go to get, it becomes something that comes to you.

Hmmm... it seems to me that an enterprising person could set up little hand-held wireless PocketPC rentals outside of, say, a supermarket, with the devices pre-set with links to various nutrition and consumer information websites. Would immediate access to such data change buying patterns? Researchers, here's a good place to start looking...


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 11, 2003 5:09 PM.

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