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The Westminster City Council will extend its municipal-services wireless network for public access: The network was originally built for city services (remote cameras, known as CCTV or closed-circuit television) and city employees with an eye towards Internet access for all-comers. The network covers Soho and will expand to two housing estates.
New Zealand’s RoamAD has a metropolitan Wi-Fi system that’s been available for years: The uptake has been relatively slow outside of local markets, but the announcement today means that it could finally penetrate the European market.
RoamAD used to employ all Wi-Fi channels simultaneously in its system for better throughput and coverage; now they have an ecosystem of mesh access points and specialized front-end units, including one designed for vehicles passing by at high speeds.
The European reseller, HiTel Italia, expects to announce a metropolitan customer within 30 days.
Scotland and England have Wi-Fi populating trains left and right—or east and west, north and south: The latest addition is a plan to add Internet access via Wi-Fi on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This article notes how the private firm GNER has been installing Internet service on its routes and plans full coverage by 2007, while Virgin Trains is testing such an offering. First ScotRail runs the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, and will try to roll it out quickly.
The 2,300 hotspots of these two firms are open to each other’s customers: Telefonica claims 1,500, and TI 800. TI recently also announced roaming with the Portuguese carrier. They have agreements now that bring access to 51 nations and 31,000 hotspots. Both firms are members of the Wireless Broadband Alliance.
The 2,300 hotspots in this deal are covered as part of the work of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA): Members can more easily negotiate roaming deals under the auspices of this international organization, which emphasizes metered access with a single login to member networks. BT Openzone has 1,500 hotspots; Portugal Telecom, 800. BT OpenZone customers can roam onto 30,000 hotspots (23,000 with WBA members); PT Wi-Fi customers can roam to 14,000 (10,000 WBA).
A US aid agency project combined with computers from China have brought Internet access to all primary and secondary schools in the former province of Yugoslavia: The 460 schools enabled On.Net, a Macedonian Internet provider, to build a business with guaranteed revenue, which in turn boosted their infrastructure to serve others. They’ve used wireless to span “bumpy” terrain. The company is using mesh networks within cities. The country is landlocked, and one member of parliament spoke of the Internet as the missing sea they need to compete in a world market.
I noted the other day that Estonia is tops in Wi-Fi, Lithuania is starting to roll out wireless broadband and hotspots, but Latvia was missing from the picture: Now I see it’s all about timing. Lattelekom has 150 hotspots deployed, 75 percent of them in the capital of Riga. This article notes there are 45,000 laptop owners in Latvia but 3,500 being sold each month. The telco will increase the total to 200 during 2005, and add 150 more (or is it 350 more? it’s ambiguous) in 2006.
Costs are roughly US$1.60 per hour or US$16 for 24 hours. Service with a monthly commitment is about $5 per month for a US-cent per minute rate or about US$17.50 per month for unlimited use.