(January 10, 2003) -- Long Beach has become one of the first cities in the country -- and the first city west of the Rocky Mountains -- to create areas where those with a laptop computer (equipped with a relatively inexpensive card) can connect to the internet using wireless "over the air" radio-style technology.
City Hall has created a wireless internet "Hot Zone" along Pine Ave. in downtown LB...and has plans to do likewise later this year at LB Airport.
Radio transmitters have been installed along a four block section of Pine Ave...and when a special card (available at many office supply stores for about $80-$90) is inserted into a laptop computer, the user can automatically log onto the internet.
"By introducing free wireless internet access, the City of Long Beach is taking a bold step to provide cutting-edge communications technology to anyone visiting our downtown," said LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, quoted in a Community Development Department release. She added, "Business people will be able to enjoy high speed internet access, check e-mail and tap into corporate networks from the comfort of their tables at lunch."
The release indicates City Hall plans to create a similar wireless internet district at LB Airport, a "Hot Zone" targeting business travelers who could access the web and communicate by email while waiting for flights.
And the release suggests the high tech amenity might eventually be made available citywide. It quotes Community Development Director Melanie Fallon as saying:
"If it proves popular with our visitors and business community, we are poised to extend it to other key venues within the city...[and] we may also make the service available to our citizens throughout the city."
To see what wireless internet users will see when logging on in downtown's "Hot Zone," LBReport.com has posted a link to the web portal created by Lorenzo Gigliotti, founder of LB-based G-site Web & Consulting.
Mr. Gigliotti's firm designed the specialized web portal for the downtown "Hot Zone." First click on www.LongBeachPortals.com, then click on "Hot Zone." (The entry page also allows you to preview the forthcoming LB Airport wireless portal in development.) To go directly to the downtown portal page, click on Downtown Hot Zone page.
In the City Hall release, web whiz Gigliotti said, "Our role in this project was to create easy access and develop the Downtown Wireless Portal that would allow the visitors to discover local merchants."
For more on the downtown project, Mr. Gigliotti has posted an additional page: Downtown Hot Zone -- About Us.
The Community Development Department release indicates the concept, business model and network architecture for the "Hot Zone" were developed by Tom Paradise, principal of LB-based Development Tech who organized the team that brought the project to fruition.
"Offering free, public wireless internet access as a 'place-making' community amenity represents a new business model in the wireless market space. Merchants, restaurateurs, developers and community groups can offer wireless internet access to visitors and customers as a way to differentiate and promote their local business districts," Mr. Paradise said in the release.
Also part of the high-tech team is LB-based Color Broadband, Inc., which offers high-speed broadband internet connectivity and other specialized services...and is providing the broadband connection for the "Hot Zone."
Intermec Technologies Corporation of Everett, WA provides the wireless network and wireless access points that let users access the internet without wires.
Another participant is Vernier Networks of Mountain View, CA which develops innovative systems and software to protect, manage and enhance wireless networks.
The Community Development Department release indicates City Hall "is researching the possibility of expanding the 'Hot Zone' to include other areas of the city. Since many of the boats in Long Beach's two City-owned and operated marinas are full-time homes for some citizens, the City is investigating the feasibility of offering the service in the marinas."