Rest Area Hotspots Closed

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Washington State’s Department of Transportation is pulling the plug on Wi-Fi, two years after installing it at 28 of Washington’s 42 rest areas, reports the Seattle PI. The rest area Wi-Fi cost $6.95 per day, $29.95 per month and a whopping $2.95 for just 15 minutes of use.

“We didn’t have a lot of subscribers,” said Transportation Department spokeswoman Melanie Coon.

Coon said that Wi-Fi to access the Transportation Department’s main page was free. But from January to July 2008, seven people visited from the hotspot service. This month, four did. She couldn’t say how many people paid to access the Web from rest areas. Those data are handled by the companies that set up the system – Parsons Transportation Group and Road Connect.

The service was designed to complement Transportation Department’s information system, which includes radio and 511 cell phone traffic alerts – and to encourage drivers to pull off the road and take a break once in awhile.

The Transportation Department will keep some of the system hardware after the service shuts down. Officials are hoping to use it to broadcast road conditions and travel alerts, Coon said.

“There are so many ways to get Internet access. There’s a lot of cell tower connectivity and people get wireless access on their laptops and on their Blackberries using their own wireless systems,” explains Coon.

Here is a list of RV parks offering WiFi Internet service (pdf) updated as of 06/10/08.

Linksys has a new mobile router with cellular backhaul for use with Sprint’s EVDO network. The Linksys WRT54G3GV2-ST allows multiple computers to share a single EVDO connection. It works with current Sprint EVDO devices like the Compass 597 and Ovation U727 USB modems, as well as the Novatel EX720 and Sierra Wireless AirCard 597E ExpressCards (adapter required but not provided).

The new Linksys mobile router (above) has one ethernet WAN port to allow use as a Cable/DSL/Satellite router, four ethernet 10/100 ports for LAN networking, PCMCIA and USB slots for EVDO cards and dongles, but still uses the same “802.11G” Wi-Fi radio.

The CradlePoint MBR1000 (above) and the similar Kyocera KR2 feature 802.11n with both Express Card and USB connections for cellular connections.

By 2009, North America will be home to nearly 83,000 wi-fi access points, estimates In-Stat–a 15% increase year-over-year. The worldwide installed base of home networks is expected to break the 200 million mark by the end of 2008.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, September 1st, 2008 at 8:20 am .

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