Mobile/Wireless highlights from around the Web

With other cities moving ahead on municipal WiFi plans, Boston looks to get in on the action with a summit on May 19. Beantown residents are being encouraged to turn out to discuss how WiFi could be used to help bridge the digital divide in the city. The summit, set to run from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Museum of Science, is an outgrowth of efforts by City Councillor John Tobin to push the issue. The Boston Wireless Access Group has more information.

Microsoft releases XP SP2 WiFi update

In case you missed this from last week, Microsoft has released a WiFi security upgrade for Windows XP users running Service Pack 2. The update adds support for security features in the 802.11i standard not already included in products that support WPA. "This update enhances the Windows XP wireless client software with support for the new Wi-Fi Alliance certification for wireless security. The update also makes it easier to connect to secure public spaces that are equipped with wireless Internet access...." You have to be running XP with Service Pack 2, and you'll need to restart your computer after the installation.

WiFi spoofing warning issued

If you're one of those wireless road warriors who loves hitting the hot spots at Starbucks, Panera Bread and other cozy WiFi corners, you'll want to check out this piece on evil twins. No, not the ones in scary movies -- the ones would-be hackers set up to steal your data. Evil twins look like genuine WiFi access points, but they operate in the same way as spoofed Web sites. You log onto the "wrong" WiFi hot spot, and hackers sniff out and collect your passwords, financial data and credit card numbers.

Where to go for municipal wireless info

If you've been following the debate over municipal WiFi plans -- and whether or not they're a good use of taxpayer money -- then you'll definitiely want to check out the latest report from The 38-page PDF document offers a detailed and up-to-date look at the issue.

WiFi coming to the T in Boston?

If you live in or around Boston, WiFi access could be coming to a T stop near you. According to this short story at Beta News, subway riders in the Boston area will have wireless access at the Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Government Center and State Street stations, as well as in connecting tunnels, this fall. The service will be provided by InSite Wireless, and may be expanded across the entire system during the next few years.

Feds to test RFID at border crossings

The U.S. government plans to begin testing the use of RFID wireless chips at border crossings later this month. The goal, according to officials for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program: Determine if the wireless technology can be used to speed border crossings. The technology is similar to that used for toll booth passes, such as E-ZPass, according to this story at

Chunnel passengers get station WiFi

Eurostar, which operates the Chunnel rail service between England and France, has installed WiFi Internet access for passengers at its London Waterloo and Ashford stations, according to The Register. Although the service, provided by Eurostar partner Broadreach Networks, is open to all passengers, it's being aimed at business travelers, according to a story about the service. Users can buy vouchers for the WiFi access on site, or pay by credit card when they log on.

Here comes 802.11n

You know about 802.11b and 802.11g. Now comes 802.11n, and a review in PCWorld of new WiFi hardware from Belkin using the still-evolving wireless standard indicates that it offers a healthy speed boost. It cited speeds that were in some cases double those offered by 802.11g hardware. According to the magazine, the "Pre-N" hardware "would clearly benefit users who want to move large files, stream video, or extend the range of their home or small-office Wi-Fi network."

Where not to go for WiFi

You may have ferreted out in your travels which hotel chains generally offer reliable WiFi access. Now, offers a look at places you might want to avoid if you hope to be wireless. The site lists the top four hotels offering more woe than WiFi, but adds hopefully: "As we all know, hotels are constantly changing their WiFi and Internet capabilities and policies, so let's hope some of these hotels make corrections and leave this list in the future." As for the best places to stay? Click here.

San Francisco mayor looks to WiFi

Now that's a promise WiFi fans like to hear. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, in his state of the city address yesterday, said he wants all city residents to have access to free wireless service. In a story in, Newsom called wireless access important for the local economy. "We will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service. These technologies will connect our residents to the skills and the jobs of the new economy."

Ultrawideband explained

In case you've been wondering just what ultrawideband wireless is, and why you should care, The Economist has done you a big favor: It's offering a detailed look at the emerging wireless technology, as well as some of its rivals. You'll find the story at

WiFI spammer pleads guilty

A Los Angeles man has pleaded guilty to using unsecured wireless access points to send porn-related e-mails from his car. Prosecutors said the guilty plea by Nicholas Tombros, 37, is the first criminal conviction under the federal CAN-SPAM Act, according to a story at Tombros drove around Venice, Calif. with a laptop and a Wi-Fi antenna seeking residential access points, which he then used to send thousands of untraceable spam messages advertising pornography sites.

Weird wireless

Talk about a frightful WiFi experience. The Bourbon Orleans, a Wyndham hotel in New Orleans, is touting wireless access in all of its just-remodeled rooms--and noting that guests might even see a ghost during their stay. Wired and wireless access is now available in all guest rooms and commons areas. No word one where the ghosts are exactly.

Whither RFID?

Looking for more information on RFID and where the wireless technology is headed? You might want to sign up then for next month's WINMEC RFID Forum 2004. Set for Oct. 12 at UCLA, the forum will look at current trends and future opportunities in RFID technology. The impact of RFID on security, supply chain management, the food supply industry and the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry are among the topics to be discussed.

First responders call on Congress for spectrum deadline

First responders this week urged Congress to set a deadline by which wireless spectrum will be available for public safety use. Otherwise, they told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee state and local governments might need years to build useful and interoperable systems, according to this story at The FCC has set a target date of Dec. 31, 2006 to move commercial broadcast carriers out of the spectrum now used by analog-signal broadcasters between channels 60 and 69. But that deadline can't be enforced without Congressional action.

D.C. wants more bandwidth

Officials in Washington, D.C. plan to demonstrate their wireless broadband network for Congress next month. The goal: Persuade legislators to push the FCC to allocate more spectrum bandwidth to make wireless broadband possible elsewhere in the U.S. Washington is serving as a test area for national implementation of the wireless technology, according to this story at

Nantucket gets a WiFi 'blast'

If you're thinking of Nantucket as a great place to get away -- but can't quite leave behind all connections to the Internet -- you're in luck: A new start-up called Wi-Blast Inc. is hoping to set up a next-generation wireless network as early as next month on the island off Cape Cod. Using transmitters from Tropos Networks, Wi-Blast plans to provide high-speed wireless connections over 800 acres on the island -- including much of the downtown and the nearby harbor. has the full story.

If James Bond wanted WiFi....

For WiFi spies on the go.... Marware Inc. has released a small handheld device that can scout out WiFi networks and tell you how strong the signal is. The WiFi Spy, which is small enough to be clipped onto a keychain, scans for 802.11b/g signals and shows their strength on a four-bar display. Holding the WiFi Spy's button starts the scanning, and it will even show you closed networks. The device goes for $29.95.

Coming to a farm near you: WiFi?

If this story on is right, wireless networks could be commonly used to run farms within five years. In fact, the story notes that wireless networking is already in use on a 1,600-acre farm in Mississippi and another 12,000-acre farm in the Mississippi Delta. Possible uses for wireless: insect control, robotic tractors guided by GPS and irrigation monitoring.

WiFi to go

Now you can take your 802.11g network with you when you're traveling. Apple today unveiled something it's calling an Airport Express, "the world's first 802.11g mobile base station." In addition to allowing you to stream iTunes music through the air to your stereo, it apparently allows road warriors to pretty much take wireless networking anywhere there's an Internet connection and electricity. It ships in mid-July and is priced at $129 (with another $39 needed for the stereo connection kit).

Riding the rails with WiFi

Note to Amtrak: If you're looking to get more riders, you ought to think about WiFi as a lure. A recent study in Britain indicates that offering wireless Internet access could be one way of boosting train ridership. This story, on the BBC Web site, says that 72% of business travelers would be more likely to use trains if they had WiFi access. "This puts bums on seats," Magnus McEwen-King, head of Broadreach that commissioned the survey, said in the BBC story.

Maybe they'll call it WiFilanta

The city of Atlanta is eyeing a plan to offer city-wide wireless access to residents by 2007 if recently approved plans to build a for-pay network move forward, according to a story in Called "Atlanta FastPass," the wireless access would be installed first first at city hall and at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport before being expanded to other areas of the city. Users would be able to choose from a variety of payment plans, including "day passes." No pricetag for the has been set.

Wireless security survey

If you're curious about how companies are handling wireless security, you might want to take a look at the new 2004 ITtoolbox Wireless Security Survey. The survey looks at issues such as the security challenges of a corporate wireless network, strategic reasons for going wireless and whether networks are more vulnerable this year compared to last. One tidbit: almost a quarter of those who responded said limited budgets are a potential hindrance to securing their wireless networks. You'll need to register to see the results.

Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition tools

If you're a developer for the Windows Mobile 2003 OS, new tools are out that you'll likely want to snag. Microsoft has introduced developer tools for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for the Microsoft Smartphone and Pocket PC. One major improvement is a native support for higher screen resolutions. has more information.

Look west for wireless hot spots

Looking for wireless hot spots? Best head west then, according to Intel's second annual listing of the nation's most unwired cities and regions. The San Francisco Bay Area (which includes San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland) was ranked No. 1 in total wireless Internet accessibility, with Orange County, Calif. in the No. 2 spot. Washington, D.C was third, the Austin, Texas area was no. 4, and the greater Portland, Oregon area was fifth. The findings are based on the number of commercial and public wireless access points (paid and free), local wireless networks, wireless email devices and Internet penetration.

Downtown Spokane goes wireless

In what it says will be the largest city-wide wireless network in the nation, Vivato yesterday announced that the city of Spokane, Wash. will be providing wireless access in a 100-block area downtown. The hotspots are supposed to bolster city services, including police, fire and rescue response, help e-government initiatives and make the area more attractive to high-tech businesses, Vivato said.

Hermosa Beach unplugs, too

Now here's a city service you could get used to. The city council in Hermosa Beach, Calif. has allocated $35,000 for a WiFi project that will eventually bring free wireless Internet access to all of its residents. The entire system, being rolled out in three phases, is expected to cost as much as $85,000 to build, with the city paying $18,000 a year in maintenance costs, according to this story in The Beach Reporter.

Vatican police to try WiFi

Okay, so maybe the Pope won't be using it, but WiFi is coming to the Vatican, or at least to the police who provide security for the Vatican. Motorola Inc. has announced that it is delivering a trial WiFi system to the Gendarmeria Vaticana. It's designed to give the officers access to a police security network through laptops and PDAs.

WiFi goes sky high

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