Sunday, October 16, 2005

WiFi in OR for Productivity

The largest WiFi "cloud" is in rural Oregon. 700 square miles of eastern Oregon has continuous wireless access. This is the area of Umatilla and Hermiston, Oregon. It's where the Columbia River becomes the border between Washington and Oregon. I am very familiar with the area, having lived the first 10 years of my life 25 miles away in Richland and Kennewick, Washington. But why there? There are only 11,000 people there. Sure, it's nice to be able to web surf on a deserted road in semi-desert country. So? There are a bunch of remote applications that are valuable and companies and government agencies are paying for. Breitbart carries the Associated Press story:
While his service is free to the general public, Ziari is recovering the investment through contracts with more than 30 city and county agencies, as well as big farms such as Hale's, whose onion empire supplies over two-thirds of the red onions used by the Subway sandwich chain. Morrow County, for instance, pays $180,000 a year for Ziari's service. Each client, he said, pays not only for yearly access to the cloud but also for specialized applications such as a program that allows local officials to check parking meters remotely. "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. It's revolutionizing the way business is conducted in this former frontier town. "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.'"
Productivity!! .... And about the technology. The WiFi we have in our homes has a range of 30 feet or so, more with an antenna, but still not very far. For longer distances there is "Wi-Max," which makes the rural coverage practical.

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