Free Internet brings added value

  • 2001-05-17
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Surfing the Internet in Tallinn no longer means you have to do it from home or from work. Since May 9, the Hotel Olumpia has been offering Hotspot, wireless Internet access for anybody visiting or living on the first or ground floors of the hotel.

According to Feliks Magus, the managing director of the Reval Hotel Group, the customers living on those floors are already utilizing the service. "Technically it is possible, but very expensive, to make wireless Internet access available in the whole building," said Magus.

But there is no need to book a room in the hotel to use this service, because it is free for anyone with a laptop or PBC (personal digital assistant) equipped with a special radio card. The computer, depending upon the operating system, finds the network automatically.

The radio card is available only at the hotel reception and the service provider, Helmes Ltd., and costs up to 2,900 kroons ($165). It is not, however, necessary to buy it.

"A user can leave a deposit of 3,000 kroons or just the number of his credit card and get the necessary hardware," said Magus.

Alvar Pelss, marketing director of Helmes, said free wireless Internet access brings added value to any service, be it a gas station or a beach café. "The market of providing wireless Internet is growing quickly in Estonia along with the connection speed," said Pelss.

Pelss added he thinks the Look@World project targeted at increasing Internet popularity in Estonia will also help to develop the wireless Internet there.

The current connection speed in Olumpia is 256 kilobits per second, which is about five times faster than dial-up connections, and the network can afford up to 180 simultaneous users. Teet Saluvere, general manager of Helmes, estimated the technical costs for the project amounted to about 100,000 kroons.

As the radio cards are still rare in Estonia, there are places in Tallinn where a person can get free Internet through the wire.

The PBC billiard club offers more speedy and free access, up to six megabits per second, but the number of connection slots is naturally limited.

According to Mati Aun from PBC, three slots for laptops are now available at the club. "The customers do not have to buy anything from the bar to use the Internet for free, but they should have their own cable to connect," said Aun.

Free Internet access has been available at PBC since the beginning of this year.