The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that that WAP phone users can discover over 6,000 public hotspots worldwide - or Wi-Fi Zone locations as the Alliance describes them.
Users can set a bookmark on their WAP-enabled device that points to the Wi-Fi Zone URL. Selecting this bookmark will take the users through lists of countries, towns and cities and then to a list of Wi-Fi Zones for the location selected. Once online at a Wi-Fi Zone Web site, users can download the list of hotspots for their location. The Alliance suggests that travel agents and corporate travel managers may find it useful to share these tools with the people they support.
In practice, we found the system rather clunky - for instance it took five minutes just to navigate to a city in the UK, having to scroll through several screens listing other countries - although the United States sits unalphabetically at the top of the list. Having scrolled through to the UK, a similar problem will afflict those living in Yeovil and Zennor. However, we did find that there are 10 Zones in Brighton and Birmingham, and five in Basingstoke.
The Alliance said that membership of the Wi-Fi Zone programme is free of charge to providers whose locations use Wi-Fi-certified equipment.
"This is a very powerful and fun tool to help people stay connected," said Frank Hanzlik, Managing Director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "Although the Zone Finder search engine is very powerful, we often find ourselves without an Internet connection. Since most of us usually have our phones with us, this is an excellent tool to find the nearest Wi-Fi Zone," continued Hanzlik.