This past August MacCentral
brought readers news
chain owner Schlotzsky’s Inc. “Cool Cloud” network. Now Schlotzsky’s notes that it is using a grassroots movement in public Wi-Fi access to get the word out about the network: Warchalking. The company is marking sidewalks and even using advertising banners to let folks in the Austin, Texas area know that they can use some deli locations to access the Internet via their own Wi-Fi equipped computers.
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Schlotzsky’s hopes to popularize the use of its Cool Cloud network, which the company now offers in 10 Austin-area Schlotzsky’s Deli locations, as well as a Houston restaurant. Schlotzsky’s president and CEO John Wooley has previously indicated his interest in expanding Cool Cloud to other locations nationwide.
Austin-area Schlotzsky’s Delis already sport “Cool Deli Stations” — computer equipped with games and Internet access used by patrons. The Cool Cloud network provides users with Wi-Fi equipped laptops and pocket computers — including AirPort-equipped PowerBooks and iBooks — the ability to log on to the Net, surf the Web, and check e-mail while they enjoy Schlotzsky’s sandwiches. And unlike other Wi-Fi spots announced by Starbucks coffee shops and Borders bookstores, Schlotzsky’s network access is free. The company has wired up its “Cool Cloud” locations with T1 lines provided by Texas.net, a regional Internet service provider.
“Warchalking” is a recent phenomenon popularized by Matt Jones, a London-area Wi-Fi user who has resurrected a practice of Depression-era hobos who would use chalk marks to communicate with each other to show where they could find food, shelter, and avoid trouble. Users who discover publicly accessible Wi-Fi spots mark the location on the sidewalk or building to let others know using a symbol that looks like two half moons.
Wooley said that Schlotzsky’s plan is to share its wireless connectivity with neighborhood schools, libraries and community centers. “We’re talking with schools, libraries and community leaders to find ways to bring free Internet access to people who aren’t able to afford it on their own,” he said.
Publicly accessible Schlotzsky’s locations in Austin include:
South Lamar Boulevard, just south of Town Lake;
In the Littlefield Building at Congress Avenue and Sixth Street;
On Guadalupe Street near The University of Texas;
In Sunset Valley on Brodie Lane at State Highway 290;
In Maconda Park at Loop 620 and Highway 183;
On Balcones Woods Drive at Highway 183;
Near Northcross Mall at Anderson Lane and Burnet Road;
At La Frontera at I-35 in Round Rock;
In Cedar Park on Highway 183; and
In the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center on South Lamar Boulevard.
The Houston location on San Felipe Street is also a Cool Cloud location.