Sunday, August 07, 2005

Internet Access: the good news and the bad news

First the bad news. According to the LA Times, the FCC
ruled that Verizon Communications Inc. and other so-called Baby Bells no longer had to provide discounted access to their high-speed lines for independent Internet service providers such as EarthLink Inc.
This is likely to raise prices since the only two low-cost providers left will be the telephone companies and the cable companies.

However, Nicholas Kristof, who seems to be everywhere, reports on
Hermiston [Oregon, which] appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video - and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. …

Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia, … are both moving toward citywide Wi-Fi Internet access. Consumers will still have to pay for broadband, but only about half as much as they do now. …

The wizard behind the system is Fred Ziari, an Iranian immigrant and Wi-Fi pioneer who runs a high-tech company in Hermiston and Portland, EZ Wireless. Mr. Ziari contracted with the local authorities to provide the Wi-Fi service, which lets consumers piggyback for nothing.
According to the EZ Wireless website,
Our networks are designed to provide mobile access to high-speed data to your entire city. This is not a hot spot model. We engineer our networks to provide dense, city-wide coverage.

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