Merry Christmas to one and all!

We're taking a bit of a break to be with our loved ones over the holiday, and we hope you are too. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and we'd like to pass along a heartfelt "Thank You" for your readership. We'll be back posting again tomorrow once we can burn off some of the egg nog!

TWR's Top 5

We've made it through another week here at The Wireless Report, and we proudly serve you five of our tastiest nuggets. Enjoy!

  1. Contract near for EarthLink/Google wireless network for San Francisco
    After what seemed like an endless period of negotiations, it looks like a contract between EarthLink and Google and the city of San Francisco to develop and deploy a wireless network is about set to be completed.
  2. Panoramic photos coming to cameraphones soon
    Ever wish you could take a nice and wide photo with your cellphone's camera that would look great on a computer screen? Scalado has just launched a software package for camera phones which enables them to take wide panorama photos by stitching together several photos in sequence.
  3. Newton, Mass. alderman makes plea for city's mayor to approve WiFi plan
    Ken Parker, a Newton, Massachusetts alderman, has written an editorial asking for residents to contact the city's mayor to approve a plan to develop and deploy a citywide wireless network. The deadline to approve the plan that Mr. Parker assisted in developing is midnight on December 31, so if citizens want their voices heard either way, they should take the time to do a little research and then contact city officials and make their opinions known.
  4. Adult wireless content to reach fever pitch soon
    Although American wireless carriers will continue to keep adult content at certain reaches from their customers for the foreseeable future, Juniper Research says that European mobile users will help the mobile adult content market grow from $1.6 billion this year to more than $3.3 billion by 2011.
  5. Houston wireless network bid down to two finalists
    It's down to two companies who are slugging it out to win the bid to develop and deploy Houston's citywide wireless network, which is expected to cost over $40 million and cover 600 square miles by the time it is completed in 2008.

Hotspots heating up in Russia

A new report from J'son&Partners says that the number of public hotspots in Russia will increase to 7,000 by the end of the year and to 13,000 by 2010. Golden Telecom, a domestic telecom services provider, is one of the major operators of the hotspots.

It goes without saying that Russia is one of the great untapped markets for wireless services. We don't read or hear much about wireless technology in the country, but reports like this will likely spur providers to get their foot in the door there.

So far, so good for WiFi Pittsburgh

Despite a few kinks here and there, it appears the WiFi Pittsburgh service in the city's downtown area has been fairly successful since its launch in September. Users can log on to the network as many times as they want for free as long as their total usage is under two hours. After that, it'll cost you.

The writer of this story tested the service at a number of locations within the area, and it seemed she was able to get a reasonably fast connection virtually anywhere she logged on. There are currently 60 access points within the Golden Triangle, so the service's users are not far from a hotspot. So far, this limited launch of WiFi Pittsburgh is gaining more users over time, and it'll be interesting to see if this concept will stretch throughout the entire city.

WiMax network to be established in downtown Manchester, N.H.

Town officials in Manchester, N.H. are looking to establish a WiMax network in the downtown area by the end of the month to enhance wireless access within the area.

The downtown area has had hotspots there since 2004, however there have been instances of service interruptions over that time, so the city has decided to take the next step and launch a WiMax network which should provide wireless access to the now-current dead zones.

"Le WiFi" seeking to take hold in Paris

OK, OK, there some of us out there who have had issues with France and the French people. But let's put that aside and focus on the fact that the mayor of Paris, France, Bertrand Delanoe, is another big city government official who is championing the concept of bringing WiFi to their municipality.

Most of us wouldn't think of the City of Lights as a technology center, but Delanoe wants to change that by promoting "le WiFi"(or as the French pronounce it, "wee fee") in order to attract younger people and business to the area.

Delanoe said his goal is to launch 400 free hotspots throughout the city. Will his plan succeed? We'll know soon enough...

TWR's Top 5

As we say goodbye to the summer and head into the fall, why not dive into the Top 5 stories we've been working on this week at The Wireless Report? Enjoy!

  1. The debate continues over kids bringing cellphones to school
    There's quite a bit of discussion and debate over whether kids should be allowed to bring and/or use their cellphones while in school. It seems there is no clearcut answer, one way or the other.
  2. The Wireless Report Podcast, Special Edition -- September 20, 2006
    We are pleased to bring you a special edition of the The Wireless Report Podcast. I recently spoke with Peter Cannistra from Sprint Nextel and Gary Koerper from Motorola. Both gentlemen are personally and deeply involved with the WiMAX standard and rollout recently announced by Sprint Nextel and had some great insight into this rather-important WiMAX announcement.
  3. Google exec frustrated over pace of negotiation of San Francisco's wireless network
    Uh-oh, there appears to be trouble in paradise for San Francisco and its wireless network plans.
  4. Mobile TV has captured the "industry's" attention -- what about the consumer?
    In yet another interesting line about the mobile industry preaching the effects of mobile television, it still bugs me that the *industry* won't really ask their specific customers exactly what *they* want. After all, the *industry* can harp about mobile TV all day long -- but at the end of the day, if consumers don't bit, then the entire effort has been wasted.
  5. FCC seeks to lift ban from airlines offering WiFi at Boston's Logan Airport
    The chairman of the FCC has stepped into the fray over the ban imposed in 2004 by Boston's Logan International Airport over WiFi services offered by individual airlines at the facility.

Hotspots being established all around Helsinki

The city of Helsinki, Finland has been in the process of setting up wireless internet access over the summer and hopes to have up to 85 base stations installed by the end of December.

Access will be free to all users at locations including the downtown area as well as city libraries and cultural centers.

Wireless network deployments cover the entire USA

Esme Vos of MuniWireless.com has put together a nice list of the cities and counties that have already or are planning to deploy wireless networks so far this year. It's a pretty impressive list and it spans every corner of the U.S.

The list is broken down into 5 categories:

  1. City or countywide wireless broadband networks in operation for public access and municipal use
  2. City hotzones
  3. City or county networks for municipal use only
  4. Planned deployments where an RFI or RFP has been issued or where a network is being deployed
  5. Cities and counties that are considering WANs

What also is interesting that there are a growing number of vendors/ISPs getting into the citywide wireless game, so that can only benefit the municipalities who are searching for a company to partner with and will not be limited by just a few players.

TWR's Top 5

It may be the dog days of summer, but we certainly aren't chasing our tails here at The Wireless Report! Lap up our top 5 stories of the week! Enjoy!

  1. Boeing to ground Connexion in-flight WiFi service
    Boeing has officially announced that it will be grounding its Connexion in-flight WiFi service by the end of this year. The company says that the service never really took off with passengers in the six years of its availability, so it finally decided to shut it down and take a $320 million charge to cover the costs of putting it in mothballs.
  2. Cingular experiments with blue RAZR
    Cingular Wireless is playing with the Motorola RAZR, this time back in blue. Cingular has released the original RAZRs in silver, black and pink, so is the market ready for the same old deal, just in another color? With the RAZR becoming aged but still selling like hotcakes, perhaps there is a new market for a blue RAZR. Perhaps people whose favorite color is blue?
  3. Small WiFi access providers feeling the strain from citywide wireless networks
    Every day seems to bring news of another citywide wireless network in development. Cities big and small in size (and between) are getting into the muni WiFi game, and providers such as EarthLink, MobilePro, and MetroFi are poised to rake in some hefty profits if these networks perform up to expectations.
  4. Mobile Internet usage on the rise -- sees over 34 million June visits
    With almost every wireless phone on the planet in the last few years being capable of accessing the mobile Internet from a built-in web browser, it stands to reason that usage would be increasing, even as carriers -- in my opinion -- market the service horribly.
  5. Google's Mountain View wireless network launches
    Google officially gets into the wireless network pool today with the launch of a citywide wireless network in its hometown, Mountain View, California. According to the company, the network provides coverage to about 90 percent of the 12-square-mile city at speeds up to 1 megabit per second.

Small WiFi access providers feeling the strain from citywide wireless networks

Every day seems to bring news of another citywide wireless network in development. Cities big and small in size (and between) are getting into the muni WiFi game, and providers such as EarthLink, MobilePro, and MetroFi are poised to rake in some hefty profits if these networks perform up to expectations.

Lost in the shuffle are the companies who have been providing WiFi access in hotels, restaurants, and airports for quite some time. Some analysts believe companies such as Wayport and Boingo will eventually lose business as the spate of muni WiFi networks continues to grow.

However, there may be a silver lining. Many of these muni networks have both a free and fee-paid service, and the free portion may not provide the speed desired by its users. The hotspot providers say they can fill that breach and offer faster speeds. However, their pricing plans of up to $10 a day for access will certainly have to come down significantly for them to compete in the marketplace.

New wireless broadband network deployed in Fort Wayne, Indiana

This one kind of flew under the radar a little bit, but add Fort Wayne, Indiana to the list of cities that now have free broadband wireless access. The system, constructed by Colubris Networks, allows for city workers to access information anytime, anywhere. For example, police officers can have digital fingerprints wirelessly transferred to them while investigating a crime scene. In addition, city residents and businesses will have the ability to access government and community information as well as pay utility bills.

While the network doesn't seem to offer anything other than government service and community information, it may be enough to keep the city moving forward technologically until an initiative comes along that will deliver true wireless internet access for all residents and businesses.

TWR's Top 5

Goodness, where did the time go? It's been another wacky week at The Wireless Report, so to cut right to the chase, here are our top five stories over the last seven days.

  • Sprint's New Unlimited Wireless Calling to Home or Office
    In what is a first for a U.S. wireless carrier, Sprint has announced new add-on features that would give a customer access to calling their home landline phone or their office phone (or switchboard) in an unlimited fashion without using wireless minutes. So, you can be a chatty cathy with your wife or husband and not pull from your minute "bucket". These add-ons cost $5 and $8 month respectively for calling to home or office.
  • Moscow Going Wireless
    Next month a test run of a citywide wireless network will take place in Moscow with plans to deploy up to 5,000 access nodes by Golden Telecom throughout the city soon after. According to the Prime-Tass news agency, service will feature "competitively priced" access rates for users. (Wonder how many rubles it will cost a month to log on to the network...)
  • Wireless Movie Tickets in Real-Time -- What Took This So Long?
    Sprint Nextel has just announced the mobile availability of Fandango Wireless, where you can hop on your phone's web browser (or your wireless PDA's browser), purchase movie tickets, then have the "virtual ticket" pushed back to your handet with a bar code image that can be read by the scanners at movie foyers - gaining you "no-line" access.
  • Concern Over Who Would Have Access in D.C.'s Municipal Network
    Interesting piece in the Washington Post about the building of a citywide wireless network in Washington, D.C., but there is concern that by contracting the development work to a private company, that company would be allowed to decide which sections of the city to build the infrastructure in, as long as it provides free service to low-income residents. So, it could come to pass that even if a citywide network launches in D.C., there still could remain a digital divide between residents--in fact, it could become a digital chasm that may never be closed.
  • Pay to Drive Using RFID, or Pay the Government Later?
    In a very unique twist of RFID use, it seems drivers in Sweden are just starting to use test RFID tags in their vehicles in order to pay for the privelege of driving on certain Sweish roads and highways. Wait, paying to drive? Yes - true.  In order to cut pollution and traffic congestion, the Swedish government hatched this idea to make citizens actually pay for driving - I guess as a "decentive" to just drive for the fun of it, but to ensure only those who needed to drive (for work, etc.) would be driving. What? Huh?

TWR's Top 5

It's been a busy week at The Wireless Report, so without further adieu, here's our list of the Top 5 stories in the world of wireless from the past week.

  • RIM Is Out $612 Million-But Your Blackberry Is Safe
    Just a few hours ago, RIM settled with NTP for a little over $612 million to finally finally) end - we hope - the long drama over the future of the wireless email service that RIM has made indispensable to Blackberry users. So, folks, thumb your emails away - your Crackberries are safe.
  • Cincinnati's "Lily Pad" Approach to Wireless Access
    There's an effort underway in Cincinnati, Ohio to offer free WiFi access to city residents and people in surrounding areas by way of a partnership between the city, Time Warner Cable, and the Lily Pad non-profit organization.
  • The Upcoming Mobile Device Battery Crisis
    With newer handsets coming with ultra-slim profiles, incredibly beefed-up multimedia features and soon to have streaming music and television (Sprint and Verizon started this in the U.S.), do manufacturers have a battery power crisis on their hands?
  • Study Says Cellphones and Laptops Should Not Be Used On Airplanes
    A new study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that airline passengers who talk on their cellphones or use their laptops while in flight are more than likely to disrupt cockpit operations.
  • Smartphone Sales Will Double in 2006?
    Will 2006 be the year in which mobile "smartphones" hit critical mass? As the price gap between a decent mid-range handset and an entry-level smartphone becomes thinner and thinner, the uptake of smartphones may indeed have a banner year in 2006.

Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport Expands WiFi Service

Officials at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport say they will be expanding the facility's WiFi service to allow new functions such as giving police and fire crews access to airport security cameras during emergencies. In addition, there is discussion to provide new services to airline passengers while in the terminal, such as online games.

According to the latest numbers, over 20,000 people a month access the airport's WiFi service at charges ranging from $7.95 to $10.95 day, and $24.99 to $38 a month. That's certainly a nice little revenue stream for the airport and certain to grow as more travelers gain the ability to access the Web while on the road.

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