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WIRELESS ACCESS: Sofa Networks brings public Bluetooth Internet access
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 12.06.02 - 19:54:00 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 8502x
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Sofa Networks (which means couch networks - sounds snugly ;-), a German start-up brings Bluetooth based public Internet access to Germany. Together with Meyerbeer-Coffee, a kind of fast coffee chain, Sofa Planet equips Meyerbeer's coffee shops with Bluetooth access points for wireless Internet access.

How the company told, the first access points in Berlin, Essen and Mannheim are in place and functional, others in Bielefeld, Bochum, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Mainz, Munich, Münster, Regensburg and Wolfsburg will follow soon.
Pierre Kerchner
Founder and MD
of Sofa Networks

While other concepts, like Starbucks in the US uses IEEE 802.11b based W-LAN access only, Sofa Networks decided to use primary Bluetooth, which makes me wonder as Bluetooth equipped Notebooks or PDAs aren't half popular than Wi-Fi equipped Notebooks. Anyway - another good reason to buy a Bluetooth enabled Pocket PC or at least to have a closer look for the available Bluetooth cards.

Bluetooth is very small low power consumption technology and offers also good achievements on small PDAs e.g. the Palm M Series with SDIO or Compaq IPAQ H3870 Pocket PCs. Sofa Network uses access points from Red-M and Pico Communications, which permits ranges between 50 and 100 meters. The ranges of the coffee bars, in which receipt is possible, are marked by the Sofa Network logo. Depending upon size and need of the location the Hotspots are equipped also with Wireless LAN IEEE 802.11b access points, which offers higher bandwidth, but more power consumption on device side. Bluetooth and W-LAN are relatively durable radio standards, which affect each other mutually little.

The access is billed per hour and costs 5,00 € (for students ,.50 € only). Sounds expansive (and is expansive) but even cheaper than using GPRS what I do. A voucher with all required information can be bought on the point of sale.

Nice idea that we will get public wireless Internet access in German coffee bars too. I will check the Munich store as soon as it is equipped with the Bluetooth access point!

Cheers ~ Arne

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