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Area Wi-Fi users get four new wireless hot zones
[June 23, 2006]

Area Wi-Fi users get four new wireless hot zones

(Buffalo News, The (NY) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jun. 23--Coverage area for Wi-Fi users in public areas expanded last week with the launching of four new wireless hot zones, and staged an event Thursday to draw attention to them.

The group joined forces with Nortel Networks Corp., which turned Dunn Tire Park into a hot spot for the Bisons baseball game and showed off its new technology, to promote the city's free Wi-Fi.

The new zones in Tonawanda's Gateway Park, Wilson Harbor, Niagara Falls and Youngstown join the organization's seven hot spots already in downtown Buffalo, which are listed on the 40 Wi-Fi sites in a hot spot directory at

The hot spots have a range of two to three blocks from a central access point and are free to all users after registering at

This week, the not-for-profit organization, (made up of more than 20 local public and private entities), announced it received a $150,000 matching grant from Empire State Development to extend wireless coverage for five miles on Main Street.

The project, now in the bidding stage, is a big step for the organization, which hopes to build an extensive public wireless network.

All of the city's hot spots have been financed through cash and in-kind donations from businesses around the city. Launching a hot zone can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for hardware alone, the organization said. Verizon Wireless has donated $62,000 to date, it said.

"We're a long way from having a large system built, but we're building the infrastructure with this large grant," said Les Hoffman, director of technology for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, which coordinates the initiative.

Hoffman was talking to folks about the system outside the Bison's game. Jerry Johnson, a retiree who travels to baseball games around the region, thought he was asking a stupid question when he approached BuffaloNiagaraWiFi's table and asked if Wi-Fi meant the same as wireless.

It wasn't a stupid question, InfoTech Niagara Executive Director Christine Plowacha told him and, yes, Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity.

"It's a big learning process, that's for sure," Johnson said.

Henry Miranda was inside the ballpark munching on a sausage sandwich with his laptop by his side. He had heard about Wi-Fi day and decided to check it out.

"I haven't been here in years," said Miranda, who does computer support for East Aurora High School. "I thought this would be a good opportunity."

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