Charlotte, N.C. will be the second city added to AT&T's Wi-Fi hotzone pilot program, the wireless carrier announced this week. The program offers free Wi-Fi to customers in select areas in an attempt to bypass network congestion in heavily populated zones.
"Our first AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone in New York City has received praise from our customers, and w're excited to introduce this Wi-Fi solution in Charlotte," Angie Wiskocil, senior vice president of AT&T's Wi-Fi services, said in a statement.
AT&T has found itself under near constant fire for its spotty 3G coverage and inability to keep up with demand for data services on its network. As the exclusive carrier of the iPhone and, more recently, the iPad, AT&T said its mobile data traffic growth has spiked by 5,000 percent in the past three past years.
AT&T hopes to solve the problem by combining Wi-Fi and 3G networks.
Wi-Fi service in the air started out as a bit of a novelty, but it has since ballooned to encompass nearly 1 out of every 3 U.S. passenger planes. Despite the rapid growth studies have shown that less than 10% of passengers use the service, mostly because it's just too expensive to justify. Regardless of the numbers however, many airlines are reporting that they plan to finish adding this feature to their entire fleet within a few years, so clearly they must be making money somehow.
Aircell continues to lead the pack in terms of installed base in the U.S, but the competition could soon be heating up from a company named Row 44 who just recently managed to clear through the regulatory red tape that slowed their initial rollout. Aircell clearly has the first mover advantage, but Row 44 has the international roaming agreements that could make a difference in the long haul.
As the recession eases and companies loosen up restrictions on expense accounts we may see adoption of in-flight Wi-Fi rise, but it will still be difficult for the individual consumer to justify at $13. Tweeting "I'm texting from 30,000 feet" might sound like tons of fun, but the novelty has worn off long before the charge hits your credit card.
What is in-flight Wi-Fi worth to you? Does it need to be free?
Samsung's Vibrant smartphone (part of the Galaxy S series) debuted on T-Mobile yesterday, finally giving T-Mobile subscribers an Android phone to legitimately be excited about. And if you're a frequent traveler, it gets even better -- Gogo is offering up to one month of free inflight Wi-Fi data access.
"As smartphones become more prevalent, we want to make it easier for those traveling to access their email and favorite websites as well as Twitter and Facebook," said Aircell President and CEO, Michael Small. "We want to provide the Vibrant customers with a seamless way to continue their mobile experience at 30,000 feet."
Gogo is available on nearly 1,000 commercial aircraft and over 3,500 daily flights in the Continental U.S., Gogo said. The free month of service is valid for one month from registration or until January 31, 2011, whichever comes first.
We're almost at the point where we can consider landlines to be old school, or so suggests a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. According to Pew, 59 percent of Americans hop online wirelessly using their mobile phones or laptop.
To come up with that figure, Pew surveyed 2,252 American adults, 47 percent of which said they surf the Internet through Wi-Fi or a mobile broadband card. Another 40 percent said they surf, fire off emails, and IM friends and co-workers on their mobile phones, up from 32 percent one year ago.
"The growing functionality of mobile phones makes them ever-more powerful devices for on-the-go communications and computing," said Aaron Smith, a research specialist at Pew. "Cell phones have become for many owners an all-purpose chat-text-gaming-photo-sharing media hub that is an essential utility for work and a really fancy toy for fun."
It's not really young adults, either. While adults between the age of 18 to 29 use the Web more than anyone else, those who fall into the 30 to 49 age bracket are now "significantly more likely" to take pics, send texts, and surf the Web, record video, use email, and perform other online tasks with their mobile phones.
Trendnet can legitimately claim bragging rights for being the first company to bring a three-stream IEEE 802.11n router to market. Unfortunately, our first impressions of the TEW-691GR are not all that positive. While we never expected this router to deliver actual throughput of 450Mb/s (just as we never expect the far more common two-stream routers to deliver actual throughput of 300Mb/s), its sparse feature set and bipolar real-world performance left us unimpressed.
As you'll see from the benchmark charts, the TEW-691GR proved to be very fast, but only when our wireless client was in relatively close proximity. Trendnet recommends reviewers use a notebook equipped with Intel’s integrated Intel WiFi Link 5300 adapter, because you can’t buy a three-stream USB Wi-Fi adapter today. But since we can’t expect readers to buy a notebook based solely on which wireless network adapter is inside, we elected to stick with the TEW-664UB USB adapter that Trendnet provided.
Could any component in a router’s BOM (bill of materials) cost less than an LED? Don’t think so. So why the heck did Belkin design its Play Max wireless router to use a single LED to inform you of its operating status?
Granted, the Play Max’s street price is $20 to $30 cheaper than many other concurrent dual-band wireless routers, and there might even be a lot of folks who don’t pay much attention to details like the status of their router’s ports or whether or not both of the router’s radios are operating. We do though, and a single LED that glows green when the router has an Internet connection and amber if something is amiss doesn’t cut it.
Best Buy isn't out on a mountain top screaming about its mobile wireless broadband service, but with a couple of mouse clicks, you can uncover a fair amount of details about its Best Buy Connect program.
Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, Best Buy Connect comes in a variety of plans, including no contract options and both 1-year and 2-year pricing models. Without a contract, Best Buy will sell you up to 250MB for $30, while all three plans offer up to 500MB for $40 and 5GB for $60. Both service agreements are tied to subsidies on new laptops, with the longer you commit, the more you'll save upfront -- up to $275 off of any compatible laptops when you agree to a 2-year plan.
From what we've uncovered, you'll also be able to log in to your account and monitor your monthly data usage. And to help prevent you from wracking up a ginormous bill filled with overage charges, Best Buy says it will email customers when they get near their monthly allotment.
Airlines have been reluctant to share numbers on just how many passengers are logging on to their expensive in-flight Wi-Fi. Now, some new figures from industry analysts indicate that under 10% of fliers are making use of the internet connections available on many commercial flights. As you might expect, the major factor cited for lack up update is price.
Gogo, the largest in-flight Wi-Fi provider, charges $4.95 for flights 90 minutes or less with the price jumping to $10.95 for flights longer than 90 minutes. There are expected to be 2000 planes in the US equipped with Wi-Fi. The cost is likely to stay the same. Many of the companies running the services are just starting out and need all the revenue they can get.
Still, some don't care about the price. They may see a flight as an excuse to unplug from the interwebs. Have you ever paid for in-flight Wi-Fi? What's a reasonable price for the service?
If you live near a Starbucks (and let's face it, who doesn't?), you have one more bastion of free connectivity to make use of. Starbucks' free Wi-Fi service has started up today as planned. The best part, other than that it's free, is that it only takes two clicks to log on. Just agree to the terms of service, and connect.
Starbucks previously had a paywall scenario where AT&T customers could get free access, but others were limited to 2 hours before they has to pony up some cash. All the corporately owned stores in the US and Canada are going to be doing this, so you might see some franchises with a different set up. If you've tried it already, let us know what sort of speeds you can get while enjoying a tasty beverage.
Unlike its surreptitious malicious-code-on-a-Street-View-car method of collecting Wi-Fi data, Google has an unintrusive way of accomplishing the task using mobile applications. Google's database of Wi-Fi hot spots is most likely to swell every time a user tracks his mobile phone's location using Wi-Fi triangulation or uses geolocation-enabled web services on a laptop.
This method is unlikely to ruffle any feathers as no payload data is collected. According to Steve Lee, a group product manager at Google, all Wi-Fi data is anonymous and users can prevent the "anonymous location data" from being sent to Google.