Annapolis has gone wireless.  On Saturday, Annapolis Wireless Internet launched free public wireless Internet access in the downtown historic district.  Sailors, tourists and residents can access the service as long as they are within range of Annapolis Wireless’ new WiFi HotSpot, which is most accessible near Ego Ally.   The service is the first of its kind in Annapolis.  The city has not provided any funding, according to Annapolis Wireless.

Annapolis Wireless supports the service by selling business sponsorhips and advertising on its site, , and the WiFi (short for wireless fidelity) technology is provided by partner Nortel Networks Corp.   “When it is free, people will really use it,” said Phil McQuade , president of Annapolis Wireless.  “So we figured out a way to make it happen.”  Annapolis Wireless’ Web site offers a directory of area businesses in categories such as lodging, health and fitness, dining and shopping.  Banner ads for local businesses also run across the top and down the side of the site.  Users logging on to the network are sent to the Annapolis Wireless home page, and new users must register.  They then can browse the Internet or check e-mail.   The HotSpot is warmest at the City Dock and stretches halfway down Spa Creek and to Liberty Marina, according to McQuade.  The best spots to access the service are near Market House and along Main Street, he said.

The service is intended mostly for visitors, especially sailors who dock their boats at City Dock, according to Annapolis public information officer Jan Hardesty .  “Many of our visitors don’t even come on land. This will serve the harbor and the water areas outside of the harbor,” Hardesty said.   McQuade said he hopes to expand the service to the West Street corridor and elsewhere in the county.

By Lauren Wiseman and Daniel de Vise Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 4, 2006; Page AA04- In Washington Post newspaper and On-Line