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Surf’s up - Ocean City’s public wireless network

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July 29, 2007

Surf’s up - Ocean City’s public wireless network

Surf’s up - Ocean City’s public wireless network

July 30, 2007 Ocean City, New Jersey, is about to become one of the first American dot com-munities. As part of a $3 million plan to upgrade public services in the popular tourist destination, small wi-fi transmitters are being installed on light posts to drench the city in a wireless internet network. Access to the high speed broadband will be free for the residents and will be available to tourists for a small charge. And with a tourist base that increases the town’s population from 15,000 to 130,000 in the summer, it’s a safe bet the council will more than get their money back.

Ocean City, New Jersey, is about to become one of the first American dot com-munities. As part of a $3 million plan to upgrade public services in the popular tourist destination, small wi-fi transmitters are being installed on light posts to drench the city in a wireless internet network. Access to the high speed broadband will be free for the residents and will be available to tourists for a small charge. And with a tourist base that increases the town’s population from 15,000 to 130,000 in the summer, it’s a safe bet the council will more than get their money back.

The initiative is just one of many plans to turn the charming vacation spot into a tech lovers’ paradise, but more importantly, it’s also a step in the right direction for a country that some commentators see as floundering in the broadband race.

In addition to the revenue created by subscribing tourists who are more game to surf the net than the water, the public wireless network will greatly increase the efficiency of communication in the area. The city will save on cell phone usage, and since everyone taps into the same system, you would be able to send large files by e-mail from anywhere in the city, and with the guarantee that the recipient has the ability to quickly download it. The Ocean City local government also has big hopes for the way it will impact the emergency response network and education system. Business Administrator Jim Rutala noted, “Ocean City is a perfect community for wireless – it is small, densely populated, flat with a grid street system. This makes conductivity easier than in most communities. A solicitation for vendors is expected to be released this summer.”

Ocean City is also introducing a sophisticated RFID system to replace cumbersome beach tags. Currently, they keep track of who has paid for the beach by giving out slips of paper, which patrons must show to any of the 170 employed badge checkers on request. Under the proposed RFID system, tourists would instead be given a wristband with a chip, which places them on a monitored grid – extra handy for parents who want SMS notification when their kids leave the area. Perhaps most impressive is Ocean City's desire to bring the wi-fi network to everyone at every level, with clever spin-offs such as the proposition for powered, internet capable bins that notify collectors via e-mail when they become three quarters full.

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