Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Hotspot" doesn't mean "Popular Hangout" anymore

The waiting room is too far from the dentist chair to hear the drills digging out my sisters’ wisdom teeth. The 45-minute procedure in entering its last 15 minutes and I have already skimmed the week-old Newsweek and fashion photography magazine. I’ve got nothing to chit-chat to my dad about and even if I did, he already has his nose in his book.

My eyes wander the office. Nice orange color on the walls, the dĂ©cor is pretty warm for a dentist office. The air conditioning might be off because it feels a little stuffy. The mother of patient switches seats to sit closer to whom I've assumed is her husband. She gives off a nervous vibe; he, an apathetic, laid back demeanor. The receptionist window is empty. I think there is only one secretary and she’s busy elsewhere.

To the right of the open, sliding glass window is a sign that surprises me – “WiFi Hotspot: ssid: mdpublic”. Free wireless in the dentist office?

Municipal wireless is emerging all across the United States, providing entire towns and areas wireless internet. Access is granted through mesh networks, which span both indoors and outdoors.

The service is funded by local government. Public-private partnerships allow private establishments, like coffee shops and in this case dentist offices, to offer the service to their customers.

Rockville, Maryland recently outfitted a downtown shopping complex with the service with no cost to its patrons. Residential buildings located within its range can subscribe to the service at a monthly rate.

This summer California public transportation buses in the Bay Area began offering broadband connections to passengers. Laptops, smart phones and MP3 players can all access the internet on commutes to send email or share media.

City broadband offers benefits other than being able to listen to internet radio while lying in a park. Maintenance work and follow-ups can be monitored from a computer home base through widespread wireless. Water meters could be connected to the internet and their levels could be posted on a site, saving companies money sending people out to physically check them.

First step, linking up the state.

Second step, the world. (How cool would it be to still be chatting online while across the Atlantic to Europe?)

1 comment:

ddearing said...

Boeing was providing an internet service via airlines such as Lufthansa. It was pretty cool. The plane was essentially a hotspot and for $9/hr you could surf the web. Unfortunately, I think the service has been discontinued...maybe cool = free.