- From: "reuw" <reuw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: "Neveh-tech" <neveh-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "neveh-l freelists" <neveh-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, צוות כללי נווה חנה <neveh-morim@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 07:42:20 +0200
No strings attached by Stuart Winer The Jerusalem Post November 4, 2004 Unwired Jerusalem brings fast, cable-free Internet connection to the capital. Ancient Jerusalem took a giant leap to the cutting-edge of technology on Monday, when the capital became a wireless Internet city. Laptop computer users can now connect to high-speed Internet without a physical connection anywhere in the center of town, be it in a coffee shop, at a bus stop, or just sitting in the sun on a pedestrian mall. Wireless technology is finally here and the best news of all, is that it's free. The Unwired Jerusalem project began as the vision of three Jerusalemites who wanted to do something for their city and were aided by good timing. About nine months ago, founder of local think tank, the Jerusalem Business Development Corporation, Jacob Ner-David and CEO of Compumat Computers, Mati Herbst discussed "all kinds of fantasies" when the wireless idea came up. "We feel that the economy is not making use of even a small percent of what it deserves," Herbst explains. "We see a beautiful city, with so much history that is so important to so many communities. Yet, on the other hand, this city is becoming less and less attractive to people in their 30s, people in hi-tech - which is absurd." The two entrepreneurs set their sights on a wireless network for the capital that would enable anyone with a suitable laptop computer or a palm pilot to connect to the Internet without the messy tangle of wires. "Un-tethering people from sitting in a specific place has, for many people in the world, been a basic development in the course of life. If you are not part of that development, you are going to be left behind, either as an individual or as a community," says Ner-David. Though it is fairly easy to set up a private network of wireless transmitters, Ner-David explains that they wanted it to be an official part of the city. In his capacity as a volunteer hi-tech advisor to the Jerusalem Municipality, Ner-David pitched the idea to Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who accepted it with enthusiasm. "The Mayor's Office gave us their total blessing and support," recalls Ner-David. "That helped get Intel involved, when they realized that it wasn't something that was just happening in a vacuum." Ner-David began circulating a document describing the concept of a wireless Jerusalem. He sent one copy to Intel, a world leader in wireless technology, with a large fabrication and research facility in Har Hotzvim that plays a major role in the Jerusalem business scene. Little did he know that Shay Kavas, the FSM Wireless Program Manager of Intel's fabrication plants, was dreaming of the very same idea. In charge of a corporate-wide project to install wireless technology in all Intel fabrication plants, Kavas had also begun thinking of ways to use the same technology to provide a wireless network that would serve the capital. "Of course it is in Intel's interest to do this. It is a win-win situation," explains Intel Israel Spokesman Koby Bahar. "It provides a technological upgrade to the place where you install it and Intel is interested in seeing wireless [technology] take off." Kavas admits that free Internet is not much of a business plan. Initially, when he distributed prototype models to check the market response to the concept, he was met with incredulity. "People looked at us as though we were mad," says Kavas. "They said, 'You want to do it for free? What kind of business model is that?'" But as the project took shape, a variety of hi-tech companies offered their support for free. Bahar is reluctant to talk about the project's cost, but offers an estimate in the ballpark of hundreds of thousands of shekels, accounting for both work hours and installation. "Each company that is involved gave what they could, but what is important is the contribution to the community," he says. "The people involved are volunteering their services, they are not getting paid by anyone to do it; they are being paid by their own companies. "But, it is an expense that we believe will give a lot to the community." During the Unwired Jerusalem launch ceremony at City Hall, Mayor Uri Lupolianski paid tribute to both the technology and the "good deed approach" of those behind it. "This project is, in my opinion, unique not just for the technological advance it brings to Jerusalem but specifically because of the social message," said Lupolianski. "This is the real Jerusalem... the joint voluntary spirit of the citizens, the public and private sectors working together on behalf of the residents." The wireless Internet area is created by approximately 30 transmitters, scattered across downtown Jerusalem. The tiny transmitters, fixed to walls in shops, cafes and offices, are connected to high-speed Internet and can communicate with up to 200 users at 54 Megabites per second. Owners of laptops fitted with wireless communication technology can connect to the network for free and begin surfing just about anywhere in the network zone, which includes the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, Kikar Zion, Kikar Ha-Hatulot, Dorot Rishonim, Nahalat Shivah, Rehov Rivlin and Rehov Heleni Hamalka. Phase two of the project will continue over the next year to cover a wider area that includes Emek Refaim. Unlike the large cellular phone microwave antennas, the wireless transmitters broadcast radio waves at much lower power, giving them a range of just 300 meters. Ironically, the biggest challenge to the project was not technological, but rather bureaucratic. Allowing the public to access Internet through their own personal systems might expose users to viruses or other complications that could lead to legal action. The network is designed to limit security risks and anyone who logs on must electronically 'sign' a legal declaration that exempts the network operators of all responsibility. Time was of the essence, as nature set the deadline for winter. Although the wireless network works under all conditions, end users are more discerning. "No one is going to sit outside and work in the rain," explains Kavas. But at any time of year, local businesses stand to benefit from the invisible infrastructure, by an anticipated increase in the flow of patrons during work hours. Kavas hopes the wireless idea will catch on throughout the country. "It will create a certain momentum to do it in other places," he says. All indications suggest that he is right. Shoham recently announced that it intends to set up a wireless network to promote local business and Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv is also working on a project to give its customers a wireless Internet zone. Wireless networks enable users to not only make better use of their time, but also to enjoy it more. "I need to work with many different time zones in my line of work and this ruins quality of life," Kavas explains. "I need to be attached to a computer all the time, either at work or at home. Now, I can go out in the evening and take the computer along." The question is, can Jerusalemites who are in search of some quiet time over a coffee, expect an overwhelming tap-tap of keyboards to join the current cacophony of background noise from ringing mobile phones? Public opinion is divided. "It's a great idea," says Alex Usvyatsov. "It's one of the reasons not to leave Jerusalem. People look for a nice environment to work in, like a coffee shop." Not so, argues Andreas Liu. "I come to have coffee, to avoid cell phones and people tapping on computers. So, this is just one more reason to leave Jerusalem." "What was the down side of cell phones? People forgot how to turn them off," says Ner-David. "What we are talking about here is something that you engage in for an actual need: pulling information in, rather than having people reach out to you and bombard you with calls. "There is your answer. Right now, I am sitting here with you. But I know what is going on in the office; I get all my e-mails and I can see my schedule." The effect on local society, economics and culture will be closely monitored by a research team from Haifa University's Center for the Study of the Information Society, which will monitor the capital during the coming year. "We will check the effect on business profits, demographics and socio-economics," says research assistant Gili Korner. "How does it affect the community and the interplay between work and leisure time?" Herbst believes that the wireless network will not signal the end of the classic office because there is still the 'water-cooler effect' - the important interaction between workers in the office environment. Although the service will be free for the first year, Ner-David says that in the future the municipality will have to consider how to directly benefit and use the technology and similar technologies to make the city more efficient. Only then will the question of charging for use of the service, become relevant. "What services can you expect as a citizen? It is a global question," says Ner-David. "I think that the right to communicate entails a core right and privilege to be part of a modern communication age." Advertising is another method by which the wireless network could become profitable. As for the future, with a wireless infrastructure in place, the potential applications are endless. From wireless, closed circuit television cameras to tourist information, the freedom from wires can support a range of technologies. "Something as simple as having wireless connectivity is a big boost," says Ner-David and Herbst promises that additional projects are already on the drawing board, although he won't divulge any information just yet. "Who knows [what will happen]?" asks one senior hi-tech executive. "Prophecy is given to fools and children."
Other related posts:
- » [neveh-l] http://www.cji.co.il/cji-n266.txt