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Johanne Torres[October 25, 2004]

Surfing Free in Portland


Okay, so yesterday I reported on city-wide plans to deploy free or low-cost WiFi (define - news - alert) access for San Francisco and Philadelphia. Today, it seems like Portland, OR, is winning the race, by becoming the first city (that I know of) to offer free WiFi access to the entire population of the city. The catch: VeriLAN, the company in charge of the project, will charge users $35 if they want to upgrade their access from the free 56Kbps to broadband (define - news - alert) speed.

The new service will be available to anyone over a broad service area broadcast from the towers in the west hills of Portland or the downtown Vivato antenna for extended mobility. “This free offering will allow anyone to use our Vivato phased array wireless switch in downtown Portland,” explained Steven Schroedl, president of VeriLAN Inc. The antenna, mounted on the B&O Building near the Willamette River, has exceptional range. “Laptops and PDAs, equipped with ordinary WiFi cards will work up to 2.5 miles away from our antenna located across from Waterfront Park -- no external antennas or amplifiers are necessary,” added Schroedl. VeriLAN also installed a WiFi transmitter high atop the KGW television mast. “People will need an external antenna to connect to the television tower,” explained Schroedl.

Portland surfers are on their own to access the new service; however, they will need to sign up with a valid email address to be able to self-install the service since phone support costs extra. Free WiFi surfers will be allowed a 5GB per month transfer limit with no Web hosting or spam filtering. VeriLAN will provide two hardware kits for connection with the TV tower, one under six miles and one for users over six miles.

This announcement follows VeriLAN’s recent VoIP (define - news - alert) service release -- allowing business owners to add phone lines in remote cities, bridge remote employees and enable 4-digit dialing for any employee located virtually anywhere. The residential service offers a flat-rate long distance package with bundled special numbers from overseas locations like Berlin, Vienna and London.

Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at jtorres@tmcnet.com.


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