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Toshiba to power 10,000 US Wi-Fi hotspots

'Hotspot in a box' offered to would-be WLAN hosts

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Toshiba plans to roll out 10,000 802.11b hotspots across the US this year, the company's North American subsidiary announced yesterday.

This is no big infrastructure project, of course, rather a commercial programme to appeal to stores, hotels and so on keen to implement public WLANs.

So Toshiba will offer a "hotspot in a box" comprising all the kit an organisation will need to establish a public Wi-Fi zone. If that sounds like an off-the-shelf product, it isn't - Toshiba is selling the package through its reseller network, who will undoubtedly cash in on installation and set-up deals.

Toshiba's announcement follows a similar plan put in place by Intel and the Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to explore ways in which Wi-Fi hotspots could be installed across the region. The goal is the formation of what would be tantamount to blanket 802.11b coverage, enabling true data network roaming.

Toshiba's initiative is less ambitious technologically, but the company still wants to achieve dominance in the emerging hotspot market, it said. It believes the growth of hotspots will be driven by companies keen to provide the public with Wi-Fi access either as a way of tempting them into their premises, as a revenue generator, or both.

Toshiba has already announced a similar programme in Canada. It is also working with US-based public WLAN operating WorkingWild to install 15,000 hotspots in Circle K convenience stores. ®

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