SFO switches on wireless LAN
- By John K. Waters
Amid all the hype and hubbub attending so-called
hot-spot technology, some impressive implementations of these public wireless
LAN networks are worth noting. The San Francisco International Airport, for
example, is now providing high-speed wireless Internet access to passengers traveling through SFO via
the T-Mobile HotSpot service.
The SFO network will be installed in phases over the
next year, according to Scott Hidy, SFO's project manager for information
technology and telecommunications. The first phase is completed and currently
provides wireless LAN service at United Airlines Gates 80 to 90 in Terminal 3
(including the food court and Hub lounge), United Airlines' Red Carpet Club, and
the ticket and lobby area of the New International Terminal Building. SFO has
installed 11 power centers in the roof of the International Terminal to provide
the service, Hidy said. The rest of the airport will be Wi-Fi enabled by the end of the year,
Wi-Fi (the 802.11b spec from the IEEE) operates in the
2.4 GHz range, providing wireless data transfer speeds up to 11 megabits per second (up to 200 times faster than a
Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile USA (http://www.tmobile.com) operates
the largest GSM/GPRS voice and high-speed wireless data network in the U.S. The
company has been making a splash in recent months with highly public hot-spot
implementations in more than 2,200 locations around the country, including
Starbucks and Borders Books and
T-Mobile has signed a multi-year agreement with SFO to
provide Wi-Fi services throughout the airport, according to airport officials.
The company is reportedly paying the airport a $60,000 concession fee for the
first year of service. After that, SFO gets an undisclosed percentage of sales
The service was already available in SFO's American
Airlines Admirals Club as part of a previous agreement. T-Mobile had entered into agreements with Syntegra for
the network installation.
The airport held a ''cutting the cord'' ceremony last
Wednesday, during which San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Intel co-founder
Andy Grove ''snipped'' cables that linked a cluster of PCs. Grove was in
attendance as part of the firm's effort to illustrate the part of Intel (http://www.intel.com) chips in wirelessly enabling mobile
''At SFO, we pride ourselves on being a world-class
facility that makes cutting-edge technology available for our savvy travelers,''
said airport director John Martin. For more information on T-Mobile HotSpot
service, including a list of active locations, go to http://www.t-mobile.com/hotspot.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached