Old McDonald Had Some WiFi

Fred Ziari seems to be the rural WiFi hotspot pioneer. By hotspotizing (did I just make up another word?) farmland he is pioneering efforts to put hotspots where they aren’t today and where they may never be if it was up to the local phone companies who see no profit potential by adding WiFi to areas where there are few customers.

How does Ziari make money? Well he doesn’t. You see his hotspot is free. Well that is unless you are a government agency or farmer in which case you pay for the access to the WiFi network.

"Internet service is only a small part of it. The same wireless system is used for surveillance, for intelligent traffic system, for intelligent transportation, for telemedicine and for distance education," said Ziari, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny Iranian town of Shahi on the Caspian Sea.

One of the big farms in the area is owned by Bob Hale who supplies onions to Subway restaurants and he pays a nice chunk of change for access to the network. $180,000 per year in fact.

"Outside the cloud, I can’t even get DSL," said Hale. "When I’m inside it, I can take a picture of one of my onions, plug it into my laptop and send it to the Subway guys in San Diego and say, ‘Here’s a picture of my crop.’"

This article from the Washington Post weaves a wonderful account of how challenging it is to put WiFi in other cities. Not that the technology is a problem but it has more to do with politics and trying to figure out who will profit from such initiatives.


Check out the AP story on TMCnet.

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