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Aiirmesh Delivers Community wide Broadband with Wi-Fi

Despite the inrush of DSL and cable modems to the home, there are plenty of areas, not just rural, where wired broadband doesn't reach. Such as the City of Cerritos, California, smack-dab in the middle of the Los Angeles basin. You wouldn't think such a prominently located town of 50,000 people would get left out of the broadband loop, but there are many such pockets around the nation.

Enter Aiirmesh Communications, which aims to be the community wireless broadband provider of choice. Aiirmesh, in cooperation with the city, has created the nation's largest Wi-Fi hotzone covering the entire 8.6 square miles of Cerritos. With the local government as both a partner and Aiirmesh's largest area customer, the company was able to position about 100 access points on light and traffic poles around the city, eliminating the antenna location problem that stymies many cellular providers.

Users can now sign up for hourly, daily or monthly access ($29.99), either directly with Aiirmesh, or via one of the company's roaming partners, such as Boingo and iPass. Now that the basic wireless mess is deployed, Aiirmesh will also be adding transmitters that will allow selected neighborhoods to receive in-house wireless broadband that seamlessly interoperates with the rest of the hotzone.

Aiirmesh lightpole installation
Wi-Fi security is obviously a major issue for such a large network, and Aiirmesh is working on standards-based security protocols that will be transparent to the user. At present, no WEP or WPA encryption is used.

Now that the Cerritos test case is up and running, Aiirmesh has identified about 185 communities nationwide that could benefit from its technology, and is actively negotiating with five. It's also working with the Rural Broadband Coalition in a separate initiative. Once an agreement is reached with a community, the company says it can deploy rapidly, covering about a square mile a day. Funding can be public, private or mixed, depending on the circumstances.

Aiirmesh CEO Stan Hirschman notes, "A sizable part of our mission is to make sure that rural and suburban America does not get left behind by the broadband revolution. We are looking at some 60 million forgotten people who could otherwise be major contributors to our country's productivity."

Leading wireless games developer Jamdat Mobile, which already has deals with Activision, the NBA and The Lord of the Rings producers, as well as most major service providers, hit another one out of the park this week when it inked a publishing agreement with Microsoft for its popular Xbox sports titles Top Spin (tennis), RalliSport Challenge 2 (car racing), and Amped 2 (skiing). Jamdat will bring the games to multiple platforms, including Microsoft's SmartPhone, starting late this spring.

Another major mobile game vendor, Blue Lava Wireless, announced the multi-player Tetris Battle and Dell Magazine's Crosswords, adding to its popular Chess, Mine Hunter and Video Poker titles.

The mobile games category is one of the biggest growth areas for cell phone services, and a very lucrative one where interactivity (such as calling to vote on American Idol contestants, or downloading new video and game scenarios) is involved. The latest handsets, with faster online connections and bigger, more colorful LCD screens, are fueling the trend. Mick Mullagh, president and CEO of Telephia, a wireless industry analysis firm, says that "Mobile teens represent a sweet spot of industry growth, and one of the ways the industry can drive adoption and average revenue per unit within this segment is by focusing on online gaming and other high-growth entertainment applications."