Accessing the Ether

ACCESSING THE ETHER High-speed wireless Internet service allows travelers at airports to stay connnected John Boyce, Contributing Editor August 2000 AUSTIN, TX - There appears to be consensus among those familiar with the...

"Basically," says Dirk Heinen, senior vice president of operations and company co-founder, "it's our responsibility to put in place the entire network infrastructure that enables a passenger to just connect. We manage the equipment on premises, the telecommunication circuit to the property, and all of the technical support in the rare case that it's required to help people to get connected the first time or if they have any questions or issue with the service.

"We monitor it almost minute by minute. We track every piece of equipment at the site to make sure it's up and functioning correctly. The airport is completely uninvolved in the day to day management of the network. For them, it's just an incremental revenue source and an added service for their passengers that they can promote."

Heinen, who along with Wayport co-founder and CEO Brett Stewart, was an executive with Advanced Micro Devices before starting the new company. He says that Wayport, in part, grew out of his frustrations as a business traveler.

"As one of the founders of Wayport," Heinen says, "I am kind of in the target demographic. I was a business traveler who was frustrated by connectivity in the places I traveled, and that included hotels and airports. I would struggle to get a slow modem connection in a hotel and I couldn't even find anyplace in an airport to plug in and get connectivity for accessing e-mail or the Internet or my company network. So Brett Stewart and I decided to found a company to see what we could to solve this problem."

The wireless service was made possible by the Wireless Ethernet Compat-ibility Alliance, an industry group that established a standard (802.11B).

Finding One's Self at the Airport
With Known Geographic Location, travelers will have a way to orient themselves quickly, while offering the airport an opportunity to communicate.

AUSTIN, TX - Wayport, Inc., the Austin-based provider of high speed wireless Internet access at hotels and airports, has improved on its technology by taking out a patent on what it calls Known Geographic Location.

According to Janice Schroer, company senior director of marketing and industry relations, the technology will allow travelers at airports to locate themselves in relation to everything else in the airport.

When the traveler signs on at a particular airport, the system immedately knows the airport.

"We can provide a schematic of the airport that says, ’You are here.' It will show where the nearest restroom is, where your gate is. It facilitates travelers getting themselves through the airport.

"It also has some marketing advantages. If the airport wanted to do this, it could announce a special on something (at concessions) or it could display a (discount) coupon or something like that.

"So far, we haven't deployed this. It's up to the airport. It would offer an opportunity to share revenue with individual vendors. We would share the vehicle and the revenue. It's a benefit for the airport and the concessionaires."

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