Wi-fi? Because we like to

Dec 042003
Authors: James Baetke

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

subscriber services.

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

business’ location.

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.

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