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Paris to Out-WiFi New York?

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We just told you about Verizon’s plan to offer 1000 WiFi hotspots across NYC for free to its Internet customers – now Paris wants to have ubiquitous WiFi access:

    Two technology firms and the agency that runs Paris’ subway have launched a test run that, if successful, could lead to Paris becoming one massive “hot spot.”

    In the trial, a dozen antennas were erected last month outside Metro stations lining a major north-south bus route, allowing anyone nearby to go online with a computer equipped to receive the signals.

    ….a single, continuous network is the eventual goal of the Paris project.

    Paris may seen an odd entrant into the race to extend WiFi, or “weefee”, as it is pronounced in French, as it lags behind U.S. and many other European cities in wireless Internet adoption.

    That’s certainly not dimming its purveyors’ enthusiasm.

    “More than 1,000 people have subscribed, the numbers are growing extremely fast, people are definitely excited,” said Jean-Paul Figer, chief technology officer at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, a partner in the project.

    He admits that one obstacle to a seamless network is the current limited range of WiFi antennas.

    “We are working to increase the range so we can get full coverage,” Figer said.

    Access is free in the Paris experiment until June 30, with users obliged to first sign up on the Internet.

    ….Paris-wide coverage – for an area inhabited by 2.2 million people – would dramatically change how many businesses operate.

    “The fact that companies can be in touch with their employees in the field at virtually no extra cost across Paris is a major asset,” Figer said, citing delivery trucks or real estate agents as examples.

    Figer said he was confident a decision to install antennas – which use the same frequency as most cordless telephones – outside all of Paris’ nearly 400 subway stations will be made by the end of the year.

    ….But there could stumbling block that are not technological, but bureaucratic.

    “We have a lot of issues in Paris because we have to get approval from so many departments and organizations,” including City Hall and the Paris heritage council, Figer said.

    Many of Paris’ Metro stations are listed monuments. [AP]

Let us not forget that “bureaucracy” is a French word, but good luck to them.

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