A new program allows users to view city Web sites for free at "hot spots" around Oahu
Laptop computer users with wireless Internet connectivity can now access city government Web sites for free in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu and various other wireless "hot spots" throughout Oahu under a new public-private demonstration project announced yesterday.
The partnership with Honolulu-based SkyWave Broadband LLC allows wireless Internet users to connect to the Internet and visit city Web sites for free. Users are charged a fee if they visit other sites not sponsored by or linked to the city and county government.
SkyWave has extensive coverage in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu and test sites at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in announcing the partnership.
"We really believe that this is a very significant step forward to demonstrate that we are indeed very interested in having a wireless Oahu -- a wireless Honolulu," he said.
Officials said SkyWave has worked with the Shidler Group, the largest owner of commercial property in Hawaii, to establish wireless hot spots in buildings throughout Waikiki and downtown.
Other hot spots have been set up in Kailua, Hawaii Kai, Kakaako and Aiea.
SkyWave founder Joshua Beil said the company plans to establish 125 wireless access points across Oahu by the end of 2006.
"We would hope that every major corridor, every major commercial shopping area, any place that somebody would want to sit down and use high-speed Internet services to get some work done -- as a student, as a professional, as a tourist -- would be able to access a SkyWave hot spot," Beil said.
Gordon Bruce, the city's director of information technology, said the public-private partnership with SkyWave does not preclude other companies from similar projects.
"Other carriers are talking to us with other ideas and other things and other approaches they want to take," Bruce said.
Hannemann said the city was looking for partners to develop future projects.
"We're going to be very aggressive in looking for partners in this regard," he said. "It's not so much the company that we're endorsing; we're endorsing the technology.
"As companies step up and have that expertise, we're more than happy to partner with them."