Vail moving toward townwide wireless |

Vail moving toward townwide wireless

NWS Wireless Vail PU 1-22

VAIL – Soon, you may be able to sit on a bench in Seibert Circle and check your e-mail.The town of Vail is moving forward with a plan to provide wireless Internet access for laptop computers in Vail Village and Lionshead. Free access would be available on benches, in parks and near windows in buildings.”You need it,” said Jerry Stevens, a visitor to Vail from Sarasota, Fla. “We’re dying. If (wireless Internet) was available, we would have used it.”Stevens, who was staying in a condo, said he has been trying unsuccessfully to find a way to connect to the Internet to check e-mail and do business work.If Stevens comes back next winter, he may be able to log on to the Internet from just about anywhere outdoors in Vail or Lionshead. The access could eventually cover all of Vail.”If it is successful in core areas, we’d extend it to East Vail and West Vail,” said Ron Braden, the town’s director of information technology.The system may be up and running as early as this summer, Braden said. The move is intended to provide limited, free service for guests and may also offer inexpensive service for local residents and businesses.The free service would probably only allow people to surf the Internet for a limited amount of time, perhaps an hour, Braden said. That would prevent people from using the free service for extended use. The business that operates the system could charge residents or businesses a fee for unlimited service, Braden said.The town is looking to select a company to install, operate and maintain the system. The town would lease space for the company to put its equipment. Also, the town is trying to line up a sponsorship to help pay for the program. The sponsorship would mean an ad pops up for a company such as Chrysler, Nortel, Sprint or Cisco, for instance. Braden estimated that the installation of the network for Vail could cost between $150,000 and $250,000.For full wireless coverage in Vail, 79 “wireless access points” will be needed. Most of those devices would be put on streetlamps, Braden said.Installing wireless means keeping competitive with other ski resorts. Whistler, British Columbia, and Mammoth Mountain in California have wireless, Braden said.

Installing the system would take 45 days for the village and Lionshead, Braden said, and would take 90 days to install the system for the town.’Lack of hot spots’Councilman Mark Gordon said the initiative is a good idea because it will provide better guest service and also gives Internet to residents at a reduced price. The town government should have a role in bringing wireless to the town, he said.”We have a definite lack of (wireless Internet) hot spots in this town,” he said.Wolfgang Triebnig, general manager of the Lodge at Vail, which provides wireless Internet access for its guests, said a townwide wireless initiative is a good idea.”It’s just what you have to do today, period,” he said. “That’s what guest are looking for.”The Vail Marriott offers free wireless in its lobby and charges for a wired connection in rooms. The Holiday Inn in West Vail offers a free wired connection in rooms and free wireless in the lobby.The Starbucks in Vail Village provides wireless Internet access through T-Mobile. Users have to pay for the service.”We have people coming here all the time asking about it,” said Menina Skelly, a Starbucks employee.The city of Glenwood Springs is already in the wireless business. The city provides wired and wireless service to Internet service providers, which in turn sell it to residents and businesses.

“It helps because it’s difficult to get any kind of low-cost Internet in the community,” said Paul Braunschweig, broadband superintendent for Glenwood Springs.There are also free wireless access in several parks there.===================AT A GLANCEFree from wiresThese governments in Colorado are already involved in wireless service:- Denver- Aurora- Routt County- Steamboat Springs- Canon City

– Boulder- Colorado Springs- Pueblo- Glenwood Springs- Summit County====================Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, Colorado

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