Boston-based Mac consulting firm Tech Superpowers Inc.’s free WiFi network,
NewburyOpen.net, has expanded with the addition of the Newbury Street eatery The Armani Cafe.
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WiFi is another name for IEEE 802.11b, the same industry-standard wireless networking technology built into Apple’s PowerBook and iBook models under the “AirPort” brand. AirPort Extreme, Apple’s new high-speed wireless networking, using the 802.11g standard, which is WiFi compatible.
Public WiFi access points are nothing new in major cities across the country: Merchants and Internet service providers alike are adding wireless Internet access to their business as a way of attracting and retaining customers. While some offer such access for free, most opt for a subscription plan that lets users pay by the hour, day, or whatever increment makes sense.
What makes NewburyOpen.net’s approach different is that it’s one of the few commercially sponsored street-wide wireless networks in the country. Access at NewburyOpen.net is free for the end-user. Tech Superpowers Inc. calls the service an “OpenNet,” and they developed it as a way of attracting new customers to the popular Newbury Street shopping area, located in Boston’s Back Bay. Running from Boston’s Public Gardens to Mass Ave., Newbury Street is a densely populated section of brownstone townhouses and other quaint historic buildings packed with art galleries, clothing boutiques, curio shops, restaurants, bistros, and other merchants.
Not coincidentally, Tech Superpowers is located on Newbury Street. As the founding location for NewburyOpen.net, the Mac consulting firm not only offers free access at its own location, but also maintains Internet-by-the-hour kiosks for folks who need to get online but don’t have their computers with them. The “OpenNet” philosophy isn’t just a marketing gimmick for Newbury Street merchants, either — Tech Superpowers publishes the specification for how it developed the network on the NewburyOpen.net Web site, and encourages other companies to follow suit.
The Armani Cafe is the seventh Newbury Street merchant to be added to NewburyOpen.net. It’s located at 214 Newbury Street, between Exeter and Fairfield Streets. Other locations include Trident Booksellers Cafe, The Wrap, Zoe Home, Newbury Guest House and the Boston Architectural Center.
Tech Superpowers president Michael Oh told MacCentral that the decision to add the Armani Cafe to NewburyOpen.net was driven simply by an avid Mac user who convinced the cafe’s management to add the service after seeing it publicized elsewhere. “I love how persuasive Mac people can be,” Oh said.
If you work or shop in the vicinity of Newbury Street and you’d like to see your own favorite eatery or business hop on board, make sure to mention NewburyOpen.net to them, and also check NewburyOpen.net’s
service availability Web page — there’s a form on that page you can use to make a request.
In related news, Tech Superpowers — which recently helped Boston-area National Public Radio affiliate WBUR set up a streaming QuickTime feed — is sponsoring the giveaway of an Apple iBook to coincide with WBUR’s current
online pledge drive. Anyone who donates $100 to WBUR can enter for a chance to win the iBook, which comes equipped with a CD-ROM, pre-installed AirPort card and Mac OS X.