Kailua gets Wi-Fi connection


POSTED: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The city's free Wi-Fi project is now running in Kailua due to a partnership with Kaneohe Ranch Co.

The company that manages real estate owned by the Castle family trusts bought and installed the antennas, provided the Internet gateways and coordinated its efforts with the city to provide Kokua Wireless.

Five antennas have been installed, making Wi-Fi available at Kailua Shopping Center (near BookEnds) at 600 Kailua Road, at the water fountain by Pier 1 Imports at 609 Kailua Road, Hahani Plaza (home to Formaggio Grill), Big City Diner at the Foodland shopping center on Hekili Street, and at 130 Kailua Road near Kailua Beach Park.

Resident Bob Gratz, who brings his laptop to Starbucks in town every morning to read The New York Times, was thrilled to learn of the service.

“;Information should be a public utility,”; said Gratz, who would support extending the program to Hawaii's airports.

Most outdoor seating areas in Kailua are covered, according to Aryn Nakaoka, president of Tri-net Solutions, the city's partner in the project.

The project expands Wi-Fi beyond popular cafes, including Starbucks and Morning Brew, which offer it free to their customers.

“;This is a great day to enjoy free connectivity on your laptop or PDA in Kailua town,”; said company President Mitch D'Olier.

The city's project, first launched in Chinatown in 2007, has since spread as far as Ewa Beach, the central business district and parts of Waikiki, including the Honolulu Zoo. The project continues to grow due to partnerships with private property owners and managers.

“;The beauty of this cooperation among our many partners is that people now have access to the city system at no cost to taxpayers,”; said Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Nearly 2,000 users a week now log on to Kokua Wireless, while more than 25,000 different users have hopped on.

Users can surf the Web and check e-mail but are prohibited from downloading video games and pornography sites.