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One Big Wi-Fi Hotspot Set Up For Inauguration

The public, bloggers, and members of the press attending Thursday's Inauguration parade in Washington will be able to log onto the Web using a carrier-grade Wi-Fi hotspot.

The hotspot, which has been operational for a few days, will cover wide areas around Pershing Park near Pennsylvania Avenue, Freedom Plaza, and the Ellipse. The service has been set up by a District of Columbia non-profit group--The Open Park Project--with assistance and donations from Tropos Networks, which set up the metro-scale Wi-Fi gear. Washington law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP also contributed to the Open Park project.

Open Park's chief technology officer, Leo Cloutier, said the Wi-Fi hotspot is likely to reduce the load on local cell-phone networks during the Inauguration festivities. Addressing longer range Wi-Fi possibilities, Cloutier stated: "Open Park's longer range plan is to provide free, wireless Internet service across the National Mall, and we are currently in talks with the Smithsonian Institution to install Wi-Fi access-point equipment atop selected Mall museums."

Cloutier noted that the Inauguration Wi-Fi service--which is offered without charge--will enable attendees to deliver real-time commentary on the event as it unfolds.