Forget going out and plugging a laptop to a phone line, a new
service is available in Old Town Square for those looking for a
wireless connection to the Internet, leaving the hassle of cords
and confusion behind.
WiFi Colorado Inc. and Light Source Creative Communications Inc.
have set up a free wi-fi “hot spot” to demonstrate the ease of
connecting to the Internet without using cords or wires.
“We are providing an open invitation to Fort Collins. It is all
about building an ambiance for downtown,” said Larry Hower,
president of WiFi Colorado Inc., which was established in July.
Wi-fi is an acronym for wireless fidelity and is considered to
be one of the newest computer technology advances today. Wi-fi
allows Internet users to get online via a radio digital technology
at high-speed connections.
The free service covers a radius around Old Town Square from one
block north of Old Town Square on Linden Street, down to Mulberry
Street at the south end of the square and down Remington Street
almost to Olive Street.
“I’m very optimistic. Wi-fi is the fastest selling Internet
segment today,” Hower said.
A patron simply goes downtown with his/her laptop or personal
digital assistant and begins to search for the network,
wificolorado. Users must have a wi-fi card inserted into their
computer device or must already have the card built in, which many
new computer and PDA models already have.
Once connected to the browser, users start their browser, agree
to the network terms and then can continue to surf the Net or check
e-mail. Users can go wireless for 30 minutes at a time then must
log back on.
The service is always free, but sessions last for 30-minute
increments to derail possible abuse for those who may be
downloading music or pornography, Hower said.
Hower said he is using the downtown area of Fort Collins to act
as a model to demonstrate the latest wireless technology and to
help future customers understand his service.
“We provide a safe environment for a 21st century billboard,”
Hower said, explaining that advertisers take advantage of his
service by posting ads on welcome screens of Hower’s customers.
Hower explained that there are two types of wireless Internet
providers available. The amenities provider and the
membership/subscriber provider are the two competing services, he
WiFi Colorado Inc. makes money by managing Web sites launched
from its network. It provides security and can control the users on
the network. Hower said his service is substantially cheaper than
Some coffee shops now in Fort Collins manage their own wireless
center. Starbucks in Fort Collins offers a wireless connection,
managed by T-Mobile, with subscription fees based by the hour or
T-Mobile offers service for $6 an hour or for about $30 per
WiFi Colorado customers are charged an installation fee and WiFi
then manages their Web sites for a varied cost, depending on the
Whether a realtor needs to connect with a client or a stressed
college student needs to surf the Web over lunch downtown, WiFi
does not plan to cut service any time soon, Howe said.
Casey Opdahl, manager of Coopersmith Brewing Co., 5 Old Town
Square, said computer technology is moving in the direction of
wireless connections. Opdahl said customers coming in with laptops
are a daily occurrence but said it was impossible to tell if they
were using a wi-fi connection.
“We are so close to the professional center of town. Now
(customers) have access to a wider range of things,” Opdahl
Hower said the feedback has been positive and he believes his
business is going to boom. He has five new clients ready to begin
service before Christmas and Hower said wi-fi is hotter than
“Bottom line, we have a good service,” Hower said.
Because WiFi Colorado is a private enterprise, the city of Fort
Collins has no gripe with the free service. Gary Gordier, the Fort
Collins director of information technology, said he thinks the
service is good for residents.
“We like to encourage private enterprise. It is incredible, the
amount of wi-fi that exists,” Gordier said.