MassDOT reports it heard residents and elected officials who didn't like the idea of behemoth WiFi towers along commuter-rail tracks and has ordered the contractor building infrastructure for a new train-based WiFi network, BAI Communications, to come back with plans that use either existing utility poles or poles a lot shorter than 70 feet.
Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester) today proposed installing WiFi systems in BHA senior and family housing buildings to provide free Internet access to residents.
Yancey said Internet access is vital in today's world, but that residents of housing projects often cannot afford to connect.
Several years ago, then Councilor John Tobin proposed a citywide WiFi network. Mayor Menino Wified the idea, which ultimately went nowhere.
Councilor Tito Jackson praised Yancey's idea as "a no brainer."
ZipCar founder and current MassDOT board member Robin Chase has started a new company that aims to equip vehicles - such as buses and garbage trucks - with WiFi gear. Business Insider reports on her new company's ideas for "a network of moving things," which in addition to providing roving WiFi service would also allow creation of citywide sensor networks to, well, sense things for the coming Internet of Things.
Via The Transit Wire.
The MBTA today announced a contract with a new WiFi provider for commuter rail it says will mean more reliable free access to e-mail for riders - and the option to add full Internet service for $15 a month.
InMotion Wireless will build a $5.6 million WiFi network for trains that will also cover commuter ferries and South, North and Back Bay stations, at no cost to the T. Installation begins this fall and will be fully complete in 18 months, the T says.
The T's started soliciting bids from companies willing to bolster WiFi service on the Purple Line and ferries in exchange for advertising opportunities, starting with painting over the AT&T logos now on the sides of commuter-rail trains (unless, of course, AT&T bids and wins). According to a T press release:
At-large Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo say that rather than just let old payphones collect trash and rust, the city should use them to set up free wireless zones.
The councilors say Boston could use more places where people could get online for free:
There is a digital divide between different demographics and socioeconomic levels and such a program would expand access to the internet for more Boston residents.
The two will ask the full council tomorrow to approve a hearing on whether Boston could follow New York with a pilot of free, anonymous WiFi.
Galaxy Internet Services, which runs Brookline's townwide WiFi network, charges the wireless system Google used as it took Street View photos collected data on at least one occasion from Brookline wireless users.
In a class-action suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston last week, Galaxy, which also provides public WiFi in the area around Faneuil Hall and in Grove Hall, wants lots of money ($10,000 for each user whose data was collected) - and a court order barring Google from destroying any of the data it grabbed until after the suit is settled or decided:
Massport has announced today that they are offering free Wifi for the next two years! Since Thanksgiving, WiFi access has been free at Logan and other airports around the country due to a sponsorship deal with Google to provide the access for free that only required you to click past a splash page announcing Google's sponsorship.
The two months showed a sixfold increase in usage at Logan according to Massport and they wanted to follow up on that by continuing the program with other sponsorship.
Most of the tweets I see about WiFi on the rails (and there are quite a few) are positive. But Innismir shows not everybody's happy.
The effort initially focused on traditional wireless access points (like the ones you can see on lightpoles all over Brookline), but organizers realized that would prove impossibly expensive and so are now using a "mesh" approach, in which each subscriber's computer is essentially equipped to act as an access point through a cheapo router. The result: Free WiFi in parts of the Fenway.
Worcester Line experiment a success, so the T now plans to equip up to 258 of its 410 coaches with WiFi, with at least two cars on every single train WiFi enabled by this spring, T officials said this morning. WiFi cars will have a special logo slapped on them.
Here's a good reason to secure your wireless internet. Hari Balakrishnan and Samuel Madden have been helping themselves to your WiFi to collect traffic data, a lucrative commercial field. They've been doing it for more than a year, rather than pay for internet connectivity like everyone else.
Well, Grove Hall and Dudley Square, at any rate: $9.95 a month for wireless access, in the first phase of Tom Menino's citywide wireless effort.
I'm typing this while waiting for a burrito at DeNo's on Centre Street. Lord only knows why a pizza place offers free WiFi, and yes, I'm a nerdgeek for bringing a laptop to a pizza place (hey, I'm just getting back from a computer conference at the Expo Center), but I don't care: It's molto cool.
David Weinberger is sitting in the Brookline High School auditorium when he discovers why Brookline's municipal wireless system is awful - not only isn't it free, you have to sign up for a monthly plan, which makes it useless for visitors or people who just need to get on for an hour because, oh, they're sitting in the Brookline High School auditorium.
Steve Sherlock posts his experiences direct from the train when he lucks out and gets on one of the cars that actually has it.
... For a free service, occasional access to email will be helpful and beneficial. I won't plan on getting any real work done at this connection strength. ...
Jeff Egnaczyk is on the 7:40 train out of Back Bay. Come in, Jeff, can you hear us?
I only have two bars. I'm thinking the WiFi is in another car. It's kind of slow. I think I'm in Newton right now.
I've had two colleagues report the availability of WiFi on MBTA Commuter Rail trains this week, one on the Greenbush line, one on the Providence line. It seems legitimate enough, has a splash screen & requires one to agree to terms & conditions.
Has anyone else seen this? It's definitely not station-based.
The technology seems to be based on Parvus RiderNet.
An MIT student reports that the free wifi pilot at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, 'The Cradle of Liberty', uses phrase lists to block public access to many sites on this government-funded network.
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