What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is a trademark for sets of compatibility standards for wireless local area networks (WLANs) intended to allow mobile devices to connect to local area networks (LANs) and is often used for Internet access. Desktop computers utilize Wi-Fi as well, allowing homes and offices to connect via wireless networks.
With a Wi-Fi enabled device, you may connect to a LAN when near one of the network’s access points, or hotspots. This connection is made by radio signals. If the LAN is connected to the Internet, your device may also access the Internet.
This is Your City on Wifi:
Wireless networking is now becoming a mainstream reality. Forward thinking cities are moving toward high-bandwidth citywide networks to support both employees and residents. Such omnipresent connectivity will revolutionize the way we live and work.
Imagine a city from which you have access to information at every corner using your wireless laptop or personal digital assistant. No longer tied to offices, homes or hotspots, employees will be able to connect to applications on the go, first responders will receive real-time data in the field and residents will check the local weather while waiting in line for gasoline.
This past June, the new Federal Communications Commission chairman, Kevin Martin, cited increased broadband deployment as his top goal for the agency. According to a recent FCC report, the number of U.S. broadband subscriber lines grew by 34 percent last year. Even with this growth spurt, the United States still ranks between 10th and 15th among all nations in broadband coverage.
As the percentage of wireless-enabled individuals continues to grow, wireless infrastructure could become one of the most significant differentiators in economic development, attracting new residents and new businesses who value its advantages. A study by NOP World-Technology reports 87 percent of wireless users believe wireless networks improve their quality of life with increased flexibility and productivity. A citywide wireless infrastructure would greatly improve their ability to stay connected.
Intel Corporation has joined several computer giants to persuade cities around the world to take advantage of Wi-Fi for various public services. Among the companies joining Intel are Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Inc. and IBM. Intel officials report that 13 cities are included in the pilot program and over 100 cities are expected to join within the next 18 months.
The Digital Communities initiative announced in August involves Intel and partners acting as technology advisors offering assistance for municipal wireless applications. The cities in the pilot program are participating in projects such as automating building inspection tasks and vehicle location applications.
Offering Wi-Fi access to the residents of these Digital Communities will be the next step. eWeek Magazine spoke with industry leaders and city officials about Wi-Fi concerns. Ken Dulaney, Gartner Inc. analyst, states that cities may not be prepared for customer service in networking. Many city officials acknowledge this and are still researching the best model for deploying Wi-Fi services. Skip Noe, Corpus Christi city manager says his city plans to hire a private company to run the services.
In the blink of an eye, every city will be wireless. The benefits in productivity and convenience are too great to pass up. Workers will be more efficient. Residents will access information from virtually anywhere. Services will be delivered at reduced costs. And cat5 cable bracelets will become popular amongst American pre-teens once again.