BellSouth's first major deployment of public Wi-Fi networking in the region will be in the Queen City. BellSouth Internet customers will soon have free access to high-speed wireless data at public locations concentrated in the Center City of Charlotte and surrounding suburbs. The objectives of this Wi-Fi trial are to test business and consumer demand for public Wi-Fi, large-scale deployment of a public Wi-Fi service and technical support of a Wi-Fi network.
Commonly called Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, the technology provides high-speed Internet connectivity to a customer's laptop computer or PDA. Similar in concept to a cordless phone, Wi-Fi systems use a base station that connects to the Internet via BellSouth FastAccess DSL and broadcasts data as radio signals.
Working in conjunction with Charlotte Center City Partners, BellSouth will deploy approximately 100 "hotspots" throughout Charlotte, with the majority being located in the central business district. Other locations will include the hospital district and the South Park area. The hotspots will be located in areas where people gather, including restaurants, waiting areas and parks. A list of BellSouth FastAccess HotSpots will be available at www.fastaccess.com/hotspot.
The first 100 businesses serving as FastAccess HotSpots receive free BellSouth FastAccess Business DSL for one year, equipment and software from Netopia, professional installation and technical support for both the host location and customers as well as marketing as a Wi-Fi-enabled location.
The pilot will go live in the second quarter of 2004. Customers will be able to surf at Wi-Fi HotSpots identified through signage, similar to the window emblems showing which credit cards stores accept. For customers to connect to a BellSouth FastAccess HotSpot, they only need a laptop or PDA that includes a wireless adapter and their BellSouth FastAccess DSL or BellSouth Dial Internet Service username and password. If not currently a BellSouth Internet customer, users can sign-up for BellSouth Dial Internet Service for as low as $4.95 at www.bellsouth.com and BellSouth offers wireless adapters at up to a 40 percent discount via www.fastaccess.com/hotspot.