Wi-Fi coming to a town near you

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By Chris Wolf

By Chris Wolf

Wi-Fi (wireless high speed internet), God’s gift to tech geeks and hard working businessmen around the world, will soon be available thoughout virtually all of Riverside.

The city council of Riverside has unanimously agreed to a five year, $400 million deal that will allow anyone to access the Internet wirelessly.

“Once implemented, this system will put Riverside at the leading edge of technology-rich cities,” said Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge. “This exciting project invests in our city’s future and enhances our quality of life for all residents.”

Major cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Francisco are also planning citywide internet access.

AT&T has been called upon to deploy equipment on city light poles and fixtures throughout the coverage zone. It will take an estimated 1,300 wireless access devices to blanket the area.

AT&T will also oversee any maintenance issues and upgrade equipment as time progresses. Installation of the network is expected to start shortly, and the estimated date that the public will be able to use it is early 2007.

This announcement is very exciting, since only a handful of cities have offered this kind of bleeding edge service to its residents.

If you have a Wi-Fi compatible PDA, cell phone, laptop, or any other type of device that utilizes wireless internet, you will be able to go online and do what you would normally only be allowed to do at your own home or Starbucks.

Another boon to this announcement is that the wireless network will no doubt add to Riverside’s ongoing expansion.

Some businesses may even consider establishing themselves in Riverside because of the relative ease and low cost when it comes to setting up their online networks.

The Wi-Fi service will offer many different types of options. Although the final price is undisclosed, there will be a free version that might run between 200 Kbps and 500 Kbps (kilobits per second), which is the same speed one would have for Cable or DSL.

The free version will be supported by ads, and the actual connection speed is unknown at this point. The faster, ad free wireless access options will be run off of a subscription service including day passes and monthly subscriptions, and they have up to a 1 Mbps (megabits per second) connection speed.

This announcement can only mean better prices and services for us, the consumer.

AT&T is offering free internet (except for the fact that we’re paying for it with our taxes) with advertisements, which are not that big of a deal since you’re bound to see them on 90 percent of the sites online anyways.

Once other high speed internet companies such as Charter and Earthlink start noticing a serious drop in customers, they will furiously slash their prices in order to get their customers back. This type of competition might even make the internet a public utility, such as electricity or water.

All I know for sure is this is going to be very exciting to watch unfold.

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