Union in the News for May 15, 2005
Union alumni wireless company frees up Albany
By Eric Anderson - The Daily Gazette
Wireless Internet access, courtesy of Albany company WiFiFee, now covers Pearl Street in downtown Albany from the Pepsi Arena to the Big House.
Meanwhile, Albany Bus Co., an independent operator providing low-cost service between Albany and New York City, plans to have wireless Internet access on its buses by the end of the month, a spokeswoman said.
The services are the latest signs of the growing popularity of Wi-Fi hotspots, as the wireless access points are called.
Each point, consisting of an antenna wired into a broadband connection sending a signal up to 300 ft. or more, allows laptop or handheld computers equipped with wireless cards to connect to the Internet.
In the case of Albany Bus, a cellular data network will be used to make the connection to the Internet.
The equipment has been tested and worked fine, said Rebecca Murtaugh, a spokeswoman for the company.
She expects the service to be available on weekday runs by the end of the month. Details will be posted on the company's Web site, www.albanybus.com, when the service goes live.
Meanwhile, WiFiFee's free access has been popular with customers.
Brian Epstein, the company's founder, said the free downtown hotspots had 55,000 visits over a recent three-month period.
David Ward, WiFiFee's marketing director, said the company plans to limit free access to one hour a day, and in a recent note to customers suggested those who need more access could sign up for a subscription.
The account can be used at 2,000 hotspots worldwide that are part of the Air-Path Wireless network.
The company also has installed wireless Internet access at several large apartment complexes in the Capital Region.
"We do the free hotspots to promote Wi-Fi usage," Ward said. "Where we've concentrated is the residential communities."
The privately held company expects to be profitable this year, Ward added.
WiFiFee has also met with Schenectady and Union College officials, but "Schenectady is kind of still in a holding pattern," Ward said.
One place that has moved ahead with free Wi-Fi is Schenectady County Public Library. Its downtown branch has free wireless access to the Internet, and with its expansion, it expects to add additional hotspots, said Andrew Kulmatiski, the library's director.
The Wi-Fi supplements the library's own wired Internet terminals.