Friday, September 15, 2006

WISPs nest

Still don't have broadband out there in the hinterlands of Vermont? Tom Evslin of Fractals of Change has a rural broadband success story. He got connected at his South Hero camp via wireless internet service provider GlobalNet

Says Evslin (in tech speak):

Terrestrial WISPs like my new best friends at GlobalNet send a signal from a ground-based radio to a small radio on your premises. I’m getting a true 3meg both up and down with latency of well less than 100ms for $39.95/month. Installation was $99.00 and I signed a one-year contract. Old telecom nerds like me will note that the plan I’m on is giving me the equivalent of two T1s. There is also a $29.95 plan with 1.5meg down and 400Kps up. ...

GlobalNet’s solution for the east shore of Lake Champlain is clever. They rented colocation space on an tower on a hill across the lake in Plattsburgh, NY.  There’s good line of sight to that from anywhere along the Vermont side of the lake. Even though I’m physically, over twelve miles from the GlobalNet repeater, I’m getting the full bandwidth they promised. 


Note that this service is significantly better than most DSL and comparable to most cable. Also note that the service is symmetrical – same bandwidth for uploads as for downloads. Most of us still download much more than we upload but that is changing. Work-at-homers often have a lot to upload. More and more of us are uploading photos and videos. Home surveillance cameras accessible through the web are not uncommon. Just like phone lines, some day we’ll always expect as much bandwidth up as we have down.

Remember, Gov. Douglas wants 90% of Vermonters to have access to broadband by 2007. I found this article on the Vermont Broadband Council website that says the state is up to 83 percent of Vermonters with broadband access. Too bad there's no date on that article. Fortunately, I found this version from the Times Argus, from February 2006.

September 15, 2006 at 11:05 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In the Alley

Dscf6771Went for coffee this morning to the Alley, a new coffeehouse in Milton. They've got free wi-fi, though I didn't know that in time to include them in my wi-fi guide, alas. But they've got it. It works. No password. Free.

Don't be deterred by the Alley's odd facade, and location behind the McDonald's on Rt. 7. It's actually a pretty cozy place inside. Dscf6772I paid $3 for my single 12 oz. mocha and sat for an hour or so checking email and web stuff.

The place wasn't mobbed, but it wasn't dead, either. There's a group of women gathered in the back. The events calendar on the dry erase board lists a few singer-songwriters, and meetings for an artist guild, a business association, and a girl scout leadership group. So I guess the coffeehouse in Milton is doing ok.

There's also a drive-through. And they have breakfast and lunch. And jigsaw puzzles.

September 13, 2006 at 09:49 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bad News for Burlington Telecom

Looks like the Burlington School District, their 2nd biggest client, is switching Internet providers. Vermont Telephone offered a better deal.

UPDATE: Richard Donnelly, BT's Sales & Marketing Manager, responds via email:

The Free Press article  gives the impression that Burlington Telecom “lost” a major customer when the School System changed its Internet supplier from BT to Vermont Telephone (VTel) .  Nothing could be further from the truth.
BT provides the high-speed fiber connections that “power” the school telecom and information system.  It also provides the voice telephone system.  It will continue to do both.
In addition to the above services, BT has, in the past, purchased Internet Bandwidth from VTel and resold it, at no profit, to the Schools.  However, VTel has decided to provide a special offer directly to schools around the state—and offer well below what it charges to normal residential and business customers (including BT).   This heavily discounted Internet Bandwidth will still be transported to the Schools over BT’s fiber network.
Since BT never made any money on the Internet Bandwidth which it simply passed through to the Schools, it loses nothing by the switch.  The Schools, however, gain a great deal.


June 28, 2006 at 07:26 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hotspots for customers only

Speeder and Earl's on Pine Street in Burlington, one of my favorite wi-fi-enabled cafes, has recently encrypted its network. The baristas keep the password, which changes daily. Only paying customers can now get access. So no more parking out front and checking your email.

I noticed this morning that Bill Simmon and friends at Candleblog are discussing the situation.

June 27, 2006 at 07:41 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How broad is the band?

Broader than it's been.

From the AP:

Broadband adoption increased 59 percent from March last year to March 2006 among U.S. households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000, according to a survey to be released Monday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

It increased 40 percent in households making less than $30,000 a year. Among blacks, it increased 121 percent, according to the study...

Overall, 42 percent of adult Americans, or 84 million people, have broadband, compared to 30 percent a year ago.

May 28, 2006 at 06:36 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Burlington Telecom opening today

Burlington Telecom, the Queen City's very own, municipally owned fiber-to-the-home network, will be holding its grand opening today from 4-6 p.m. in Contois Auditorium at Burlington City Hall. A bunch of folks will be on hand to speechify, and Bill and the Candleblog gang will be recording a podcast.

Channel 17 will apparently be broadcasting the thing live on their BTV-only live channel.

May 25, 2006 at 02:16 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Saving the Internet

The blogs are abuzz this week with a movement to preserve net neutrality. The Save the Internet coalition explains it better than I can, so go there if you don't know what I'm talking about. Better yet, watch this short video.

A petition to preserve net neutrality has garnered more than 250,000 signatures in under a week. More info on Daily Kos.

April 26, 2006 at 02:48 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fletcher Free Wifi update

FflWhile I was gone on maternity leave, guest blogger Meghan Dewald wrote about the new wifi network at Burlington's Fletcher Free Library. The post drew a flurry of comments about the library's filtering software.

In case you missed it, Systems Librarian Robert Coleburn commented again this morning:

The library has decided to temporarily disable the content filter on its wireless network. It will remain disabled until I can figure out how to configure it to be less obtrusive.

To put it simply, the filter was blocking too many legitimate sites.

Again, I appreciate the comments and feedback from the group.

Thanks, everybody, for commenting.

March 1, 2006 at 11:13 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Browsing in the stacks

For all of you laptop-toting Burlingtonians looking for free Internet access downtown, the Fletcher Free Library has just made its entire building into a wi-fi hotspot.
This is really cool, because there aren't many institutions within easy walking distance of City Hall that offer free wireless. There are, of course, several cafés and eateries downtown that offer it for patrons, and I'm usually happy to support businesses that have it, but being able to surf sans the obligation to buy something certainly has its merits.

Actually, you don't have to live within city limits to use the 12 desktop machines in the Fletcher Free's Computer Center — you just need to apply for a free Computer Center User card, which lets you log on but doesn't include the ability to check out library materials. No word on whether you need one of these dealies to actually get on the wireless network, but the press release seems to indicate that anyone who has a wireless-enabled laptop is welcome. You just need to establish a free account with your e-mail address and a password of your choosing. One thing to be aware of, though, is that unlike the hardwired terminals, which are monitored visually by reference librarians, the wireless network is subject to a filter program. For details, see the Fletcher Free's wi-fi access agreement and its general policy on Internet use.

Adelphia donated the library's internet connection. I wonder how much heat, if any, they're feeling from Burlington Telecom's launch?

UPDATE: Jessamyn noted that the wi-fi network's been up for a while, so I called Systems Librarian Robert Coleburn to get details. He said they've actually had it up and running for about 3 months, but after taking some time to work out bugs, etc. (hopefully including some of the filter issues Jessamyn mentioned in her comment), they're just now getting around to really promoting it. Hence the press release.

February 21, 2006 at 02:05 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Online, off wires

Many congrats to Cathy and Ann-Elise on Graham's arrival. He's certainly quite the cutie!

I'll do my best to hold down the fort while Cathy's away, though I can't promise quite the same level of scintillating web-savviness. Comments are welcome! If you'd prefer to send e-mail instead, my address is meghan(at)

While trying to get a sense of how Vermont's various municipal (or not-so-municipal, but community-based) wireless & broadband projects are progressing, I noticed that the Vermont Rural Broadband Project's list of groups working for Internet access doesn't give any info as to when it was last updated. I'm not sure how old this list is, but I wonder whether any of these projects will show up on town meeting agendas on March 7? If anyone from Calais, Glover, Tunbridge, Marshfield or any of the other towns listed happens to know, I'd love to hear about it.

I also recently discovered MuniWireless, a clearinghouse of info on municipal wireless projects worldwide. (Esme Vos, its founder and main author, was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's Technology Report on Monday.) Apparently county-wide wireless hot spots are nothing new; parts of Michigan and New Mexico already have high-speed networks spanning hundreds of square miles. But now the trend is coming East. The most recent locale to join the large-scale wi-fi fold? Suffolk County, New York — i.e., Long Island. Cawfee tawk via Skype? Who'd've thunk it?

February 15, 2006 at 08:03 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Burlington Telecom Tour

Dscf3345_1Well, the folks at Verizon and Adelphia/Comcast might not be pleased to hear it, but Burlington Telecom — the city's municipally owned fiber to the home network — is now a reality. I took a tour of the new BT headquarters at 200 Church Street on Monday with Richard Donnelly, Tim Nulty, and Joe Wool. Joe, apparently, is one of the original owners of the first cable TV station in Burlington, which he says he started in the late 1970s.  He recently contacted Burlington Telecom and expressed his approval for their project, so they invited him to stop by for a tour.

Dscf3346_1The new BT facility is pretty exciting. It's still under construction, and you can still see white hard hats on shelves in some of the offices. And the secure downstairs room that contains the network components is still mostly empty. But the place is definitely buzzing with activity. Tim and Richard showed off all the fancy equipment, some of which is currently being used to provide internet access to about 40 beta testers. They say they'll have both phone and cable TV service up and running by the end of the year. A big grand opening is planned for sometime in January.

I had a good time talking with Joe, who seemed a little overwhelmed by all these gizmos. At one point he stopped, surveyed the whole room, and said, amazed, "I was in this business once upon a time!" Tim, another telecom industry vet, gestured at a two foot-tall telephone switch box. "When I got in this business 35 years ago, this equipment would have taken up the whole building," he said.Dscf3354

The photos are of Richard, Joe, and Tim, the network hub and there's a shot of Joe staring at a tiny triple play fiber cable, capable of carrying unimaginable amounts of data.

December 7, 2005 at 02:17 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New Orleans wifi: BellSouth is pissed

This is too bad, but not surprising. From Saturday's Washington Post:

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

The big telecom companies really don't like municipally owned networks.

December 6, 2005 at 09:52 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Orleans will have free muni wi-fi

This is interesting. The city of New Orleans, in an attempt to lure people back after Hurricane Katrina, is offering free municipally owned wi-fi that will cover the whole city. They'll be the first major metropolis to run a muni wi-fi network.

Check out the last two sentences of this short AP item:

The system will operate at 512 kilobytes per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency.
That will be slowed once the state of emergency is over — that date has not been determined — to 128 kps in accordance with state law, which restricts government-owned Internet service.

That put me in mind of this essay by Doc Searls that Bill Simmon forwarded me yesterday. Haven't had a chance to read through the whole thing yet, but it makes me want to write more about Burlington Telecom, that's for sure.

November 29, 2005 at 02:39 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Burlington Telecom Pricing Released

Burlington Telecom has released its pricing schedule for their new triple play service — that's phone, cable TV and internet. I think they'll be the first triple players in all of Vermont. If you're in their initial service area, you can sign up for service.

Says BT: We expect to be able to start scheduling installations for internet service by late November/early December, followed by telephone and c cable television services by mid-January, 2006.

The cheapest deal? The "Big & Fast," $44.10. Most expensive? The "Biggest & Fastest," $167.40 a month. There's another one, "Bigger & Faster," in between.


November 17, 2005 at 03:16 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

wi oh wi

Just got an email asking if I'd seen the wi-fi coverage in the NYT recently. Yes, I saw that both Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof  have written about the merits of wi-fi. There's a nice little write-up on them both by Andrew Rasiej at The Huffington Post.

Here's this interesting bit from Kristof, that I think probably relates to VT:

...we need to envision broadband Internet access as just another utility, like electricity or water. Often the best way to provide that will be to blanket a region with Wi-Fi coverage to create wireless computer networks, rather than running D.S.L., cable or fiber-optic lines to every home. So if the first step was to get Americans wired, the next step is to make them wireless.

Wireless is particularly attractive in Vermont, where wiring rural homes is impractical. Hey, if the cowboy country in eastern Oregon that Kristof visits in his column can build a wifi network, then we should be able to get it here. I know I need to write about some of the rural wireless initiatives in VT. I'm told that Cloud Alliance is up and running, or about to be.

So where does Tim Nulty's vision for wired homes through Burlington Telecom fit into all of this?

And fyi, if you scroll down on the BT home page, you'll see a link to the Friday Coffeeblogging  podcast in which Nulty appears. The BT web guy asked Bill's permission to put it up there. An interesting example of the value of citizen journalism.

August 10, 2005 at 07:45 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, August 05, 2005

Airports at the airport - wifi fight

I was so excited during a recent lay-over in Boston to find a free wifi connection at my Continental terminal. I didn't ask any questions, because I thought maybe it was a mistake that it was free. But no, appearently it's Continental's policy to offer free wifi from their frequent flier lounges.

And Logan Airport doesn't like it. According to this article from the Associated Press, the airport calls the net givewaway a threat to security and public safety. Uh huh. I guess it's just coincidence that the airport charges $7.95 a day for their wifi network.

The Massachusetts Port Authority (which runs the airport) has ordered the airline to remove the network; Continental has filed a claim with the FCC. It's the first case to deal with wifi at airports. The FCC says they're accepting public comments about it until August 29, after which time they'll make a ruling.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I want my free wifi. On the other hand, I don't think non-laptop-using passengers should have to subsidize me while I check my email. It would be great if this could bring down the airport's daily fee, which is a little too high to be competitive, in my opinion, though that's hardly a surprise when a simple, cold turkey sub costs — I'm not kidding — $8.

And airport wifi should be priced differently. Or maybe it is and they didn't mention it. When I'm in an airport, unless there's a delay, I'm seldom there for more than 2 hours. It would make more sense to charge an hourly or even a 30 minute rate. And make it cheaper. But maybe problems with micropayment software are making that unprofitable? Are they really trying to gouge me at $7.95?

Sadly, there are no wifi networks of any kind available at Burlington International.

August 5, 2005 at 06:51 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wanted: Burlington Telecom Beta-Testers

Look what I got in my inbox today — thanks Katy at Burton!

Wanted: Beta-Testers

Beginning in the fall of 2005, Burlington Telecom will begin offering telephone, internet, and cable television* services to residents and businesses in the initial service area (ISA). Other areas will follow. Initially approximately 2400 homes and business in the ISA will be able to sign up for two of the three services - telephone and broadband internet service - with cable television becoming available in in December 2005.

*Before we can offer the cable television component we must first acquire a "Certificate of Public Good" through the Public Service Board. This process is being delayed by Adelphia Cable's objections. Again, we hope to be able to offer cable TV by this December.

We Need You: Apply Online

We are looking for approximately 100 Beta-Testers of our system (must agree to take telephone AND internet service) as we-roll out our service across the initial service area.

Here's the type of household we're looking for:
    •     heavy users of the internet
    •      gamers
    •     technology-based home businesses
    •     small businesses with heavy internet and phone use
    •     dial-up internet users

We are offering up to 30 days of free service in exchange for your feedback. The feedback may range from simple e-mail dialogue to participating in focus groups. You will be helping us build a better network - your network! There is no commitment beyond that. After the free period it will be your choice whether or not to continue with BT.

If you are interested in becoming a beta-tester please apply here. We will notify you within a few days if you application has been approved.

July 27, 2005 at 07:51 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Newsweek columnist condems bill that would halt municipal broadband

Yes, I'm still on vacation, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to point out this column  from the July 18 Newsweek. Texas Republican Pete Sessions is pushing a bill in Congress that would outlaw municipal broadband initiatives like Burlington Telecom, the one that's up and running  — and about to expand — in Burlington. Sessions, incidentally, used to work for the telecom industry, which opposes municipal investment in broadband.

I blogged about the bill when I first heard about it earlier this month, and I'm excited to see a mainstream news source writing about this issue. Because of the technical nature of this debate, it's far too easy to tune it out. But banning municipal broadband would have a serious impact on Burlington and other communities who want to follow its example. We are literally deciding who will build and own the digital infrastructure that we'll be using for the next 100 years. These questions are far too imporant to be settled by a handful of lawmakers and lobbyists.

July 10, 2005 at 12:19 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Friday, June 24, 2005

Opposition to Burlington Telecom

Did everybody see former state legislator Frank Mazur's letter in this week's 7D, opposing Burlington Telecom? Mazur says the city shouldn't compete with the private sector because "nearly everyone in Burlington who wants broadband can have it through cable, phone, wireless and even satellite." Hmm. That may be true, but what about all those people who are complaining about their service?

He also says: "Burlington and Vermont's economic competitiveness is also at stake. The speed at which technology is changing means Burlington risks having obsolete equipment very quickly."

Interesting. From what I understand, the folks at Burlington Telecom aren't investing in a bunch of hardware — they're laying fiber optic cable that will surpass the capacity of anything that's available through the commercial carriers, or anything that will be available in the forseeable future. When I interviewed him for the 7D cover story a few weeks back, Project Director Tim Nulty told me they're building "the network for the next 100 years."

But Mazur has at least one valid concern: "Finally, because Burlington is Vermont's largest city, the city's venture has the potential to "cherry pick" a readily available and profitable market, leaving the more costly and underserved rural areas to the private competitors."

Sharon Gillett of MIT told me that we should expect Adelphia and Verizon et. al. to lower their prices for Burlington residents, to compete with the city's system, and that they'd pass the costs off to other parts of the state. And it's true, Adelphia has started an aggressive pricing campaign to lure Burlington customers before Burlington Telecom gets going. So this could happen. But should that keep Burlington from buildling their network?

Incidentally, does anyone remember the press conference at the statehouse in March, when Frank Mazur introduced the Vermont chapter of FreedomWorks? It's a conservative anti-tax group backed by Dick Armey and other prominent right-wing politicians. fyi.

June 24, 2005 at 09:21 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wi-fi at 1820

They have wi-fi at the 1820 Coffeehouse in Essex (conveniently located next to the minigolf course at the Essex Family Fun Center). Only one person can be on at a time, but they're going to fix that this summer — it's a long story. You have to ask them at the counter if you want to use it, but they're super nice about it and are happy to let you on. Also, it's free.

June 17, 2005 at 10:18 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Congressman eager to ban Burlington Telecom

A Republican from Texas has introduced a bill, H. 2726, banning municipal telecom networks. What's it called? The "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act os 2005." You've gotta be kidding me! Have you no sense of decency, sir?

According to Mobile Pipeline, the bill "prohibits state and local governments from providing any telecommunications or information service that is 'substantially similar' to services provided by private companies." In other words, Burlington Telecom's plan to provide broadband/cable/phone service could be ILLEGAL. The same might be true of Montpeliernet, though I'm not sure about that. One thing I am sure of — this'll be a big hit in Vermont...with Adelphia and Verizon.

FYI, the Rep in question, Pete Sessions, used to work for Southwestern Bell and Bell Labs. The bill will be considered by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Thanks to Daily Kos for the head's up.


June 9, 2005 at 02:23 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Want broadband! Want broadband!

Stumbled across a post a few minutes ago from Mark Dincecco, a network engineer who often telecommutes from his home in rural VT. He writes about his frustrations with his sad little dial-up connection on From the Woods:

It's so slow, I often consider shoving freshly-sharpened pencils up my nose and into my brain while waiting, just to put myself out of my horrible and endless misery over this issue.

Dincecco says half of his town has DSL, but not his half. ...there was no broadband either until about two years ago, when a vice president for Verizon moved into town. Within a week, or thereabouts, DSL was all over that part of town, and the rest of us were fed the line, "Well, you can always move". Screw that.

Now, he says, he's had it. I'm going to begin discomforting the old crocks that run this town. The locals want this service and the only impediment is (as usual) the politicians (however rural in nature) who won't do shit until they see a benefit in it for them. At this point, I think picketing in front of their homes each morning beginning at 4 a.m. with a sign that says, "Honk for Broadband", might be a good first step.

Not sure where he lives, exactly, but many rural Vermonters feel his pain. Share your stories, please.

June 7, 2005 at 11:01 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, May 30, 2005

Why Not Wi-fi?

Bill Simmon from Candleblog raised this question yesterday, and I want to draw attention to his post about Burlington's conspicuous and bothersome lack of wi-fi access. He writes:

In Burlington, the owners of the excellent cafe Muddy Waters have made a conscious decision to not offer wireless internet to their customers — free or otherwise. When I asked Carrie, one of the owners, about this decision, she said that they wanted to foster a more interpersonal environment and not have people sitting at tables in the cafe with their noses stuck in computers all day. This response confused me. If interpersonal interaction is the goal, then why line the walls of the cafe with bookshelves full of books? Why discriminate between digital and analog antisocial behaviors?

I got a similar response when I asked about Muddy's lack of wi-fi last August. Read more and comment, both on the blog, and to our esteemed local cafe owners.

FYI, you can find free wi-fi at Radio Bean and at Speeder and Earl's on Pine Street. Also at Bruegger's on Church St.

May 30, 2005 at 11:00 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Brandon Wireless

The Rutland Herald reports today that Brandon residents will soon be getting access to wireless broadband. The town is one of several VT towns that got federal money to partner with wireless providers to extend broadband access. Residents (and businesses?) will be able to get T-1 quality connections via antennas that they buy and mount.

The story doesn't say anything about public hotspots. Thanks, Morgan, for the tip.

May 22, 2005 at 04:38 PM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Weekend Wi-Fi: Barnes & Noble, S. Burlington


What I like about hopping online at Bunns & Noodle:
• It's the cheapest non-free wi-fi in town — $3.95 for a two-hour connection through SBC/Freedomlink that's fast and user-friendly.
• It opens at 8 am, even on Sunday.
• Cool gas fireplace at one end of the cafe.

What I loathe about hopping online at Bunns & Noodle:
• No power outlets.
• Little plastic advertising stands on every table.
• Creepy paintings of writers above the counter, most of whom would probably never have sat down to write in this mostly sterile corporate environment, and would undoubtedly be mortified that their images were being used to sell coffee and books here. They id writers by last name only: like Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and "Parker." Dorothy Parker is presumably thrown in for gender balance, although you can just see people saying, "Parker who?"
• Their "food" is all trucked in from out-of-state and rehydrated or heated in an oven prior to serving.
• By sitting here, I'm supporting 2 large corporations (B&N and Starbucks, where they get their coffee) instead of a good local coffeeshop. Of course, if any of our local coffeeshops opened early on Sundays and offered wi-fi, I'd be there instead.

I'd like to give you more information about the wi-fi connection here: how long they've had it (I think about 3 or 4 months), if people are using it, any problems they've had with it, why they finally got it after not having it for years, etc. But I can't. Why can't I? Because no one here will answer my questions. The manager on duty referred me to some PR person in NYC.

So if you have any more questions about the wi-fi connection at B&N in South Burlington, please call Mary Ellen Keating, at 212.633.3323. Not sure if she's ever actually been here, but apparently she's the expert on South Burlington's only wi-fi hotspot. Or at least, she's been approved by the corporate masters at B&N to talk about it.

Please, please, someone open a coffeeshop with wi-fi in Winooski.

May 22, 2005 at 10:15 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wi-Fi Weekend and Friday Coffeeblogging

Combining two features in one!

Here again in the dank cave Radio Bean Coffeehouse on a sunny Friday afternoon. I'm intrigued by this podcasting thing. For those still in the dark, here's an explanation from Montpelier-based web consultant Michael Martine. Here again with Bill Simmon, Greg Giordano, Matt G. Paradise, and Jesse Krembs.

But enough about podcasting. You can read more about this show, Friday Coffeeblogging here. Incidentally, I took the picture on that website.

Let me tell you, instead, about the glorious free wi-fi connection at Radio Bean. Owner Lee Anderson says people use it all the time. "Usually, during the day, you see two, three, four, five people in here working on their laptops," he says. "There's not many people at night, probably because of the music." Anderson says they used to have ethernet jacks for customers to plug into, but they got rid of them. "They were kind of a pain," he says.

Now he splits the cost of the wi-fi network with his upstairs neighbor. Customers can use it for free, but they're invited to drop a few bucks in the donation jar on the counter. "It never quite covers it," he says, "but it helps."

The mustachoed rebel entrepreneur says it's mostly professional types who use the service. He uses it on his desktop upstairs, but doesn't have a computer to drag with him to coffeeshops. "I always wonder what the hell everybody's doing," he says. "How much time can you spend online? It baffles me."

Photo: L-R Lee Anderson, Greg Giordano, Bill Simmon, Jesse Krembs, Matt G. Paradise.Dscf1580

May 13, 2005 at 02:01 PM in Podcasting, Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Weekend Wi-Fi — The Warren Store

Welcome to a new feature on 802 Online. Each week or so — or whenever I'm able — I'll travel to and post from public wi-fi (wireless internet) hotspots across the state. I'll let you know who's got hotspots, who's using them, and how much they're charging (if at all). I hope this will increase awareness of wi-fi availability, both among business owners and their customers. I'm also planning a comprehensive Vermont wi-fi guide (coming soon). No one else has one that's 100% reliable, and "where can I get online?" is a question that everybody with a wi-fi enabled laptop wants answered.

Today I'm posting from Warren, VT. This Mad River Valley town of 1,681 is home to both Sugarbush Ski Resort and Mad River Glen. You'll find the hotspot in the center of town. Both the Pitcher Inn and The Warren Store offer access. The photo is from the Warren Store, a quirky bakery/coffeeshop/general store, where you can get everything from fresh apple strudel to pink silk women's shirts, to large handcrafted wooden monkeys.

The folks behind the counter say they've had wi-fi for a year, though not too many of their customers take advantage of it. They get some tourists, but the users are mostly locals who come in for meetings. The connection is a little fuzzy — sometimes I lose the signal for no apparent reason — but it's free. If I had a photoblog, or was, say, a member of the 251 Club, I would definitely stop here to update my adventures.Warren_store_2

April 30, 2005 at 11:53 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband Access in VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack