Cable Competitors Fire Up Wi-Fi


Cable’s archrivals are delving into Wi-Fi connections in two separate
announcements Tuesday.

First, Hughes Network Systems -- which runs DirecTV Inc. and the DIRECWAY
two-way high-speed-data service -- said it would offer a new Wi-Fi service to
leisure travelers.

Initially targeted for national recreational-vehicle parks and resorts, the
Wi-Fi service would offer wireless broadband hot spots, with the DIRECWAY
satellite system providing the backhaul to the Internet.

Meanwhile, digital-subscriber-line rival Verizon Communications’ Verizon
Wireless subsidiary announced that it is now offering Wi-Fi connections in
hundreds of hot-spot locations nationwide.

Subscribers can access the maximum 1.544-megabit-per-second downstream
connections using a laptop equipped with a Wi-Fi 802.11b access card.

Wireless customers on the road can select from a $6.99 daily unlimited-access
plan offering access to the hot-spot network for 24 hours. They also can choose
a $34.99 monthly unlimited-access plan. Both are billed directly to the
customer’s existing Verizon Wireless account.