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US Skiers Go Wireless

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Light Reading
10/28/2003
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OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. -- There's no longer a need for avid skiers and snowboarders to call in sick to catch a “powder day”, nor any reason for them not to extend a vacation a day longer. Exwire, a wireless Internet service provider catering to underserved markets, has installed the first wireless network of its kind at a US ski resort, at Squaw Valley USA. This new network will enable visitors to access the Internet from wireless (WiFi-enabled) laptops, PDAs and cell phones -- from the top to the bottom of the resort.

Exwire network users can message, surf and check email, as well as look up the latest weather forecast, grooming reports, area activities and more from their PDA or laptop within any area Hotspot.

Future expansion of service will allow skiers (or parents with skiing children) carrying a PDA to see others’ locations at the resort, send them voice or text messages, get real-time ski area information (like lifts reporting short lines), report emergencies, and – if users choose to suffer a pop up or two – receive happy hour or meal specials.

The wireless coverage area includes much of Squaw Valley USA’s base area and will be expanded to many upper mountain lifts and facilities. By opening day, skiers will be able to surf poolside at the facility at the top of Squaw Valley known as “High Camp” (elevation 8’250).

To get access at any network location users simply log on by choosing Exwire’s network in their Wi-Fi-enabled device and then launching their web browser. Instructions then guide them through the payment process.

The wireless network at Squaw Valley USA will also help automate the resort’s operations and procedures. One likely application of the network is ticket scanning with wireless handhelds - so employees can move around and scan tickets to keep the lines moving, improving customer service.

In addition to the new mountain services, many valley conference and hotel rooms will have wireless connectivity. Broadband is also available to most homes and businesses in the valley and Exwire offers unique plans for owners of 2nd or seasonal homes.

Exwire is the only broadband provider in Lake Tahoe to offers all home and business subscribers free roaming access at hot spot locations – a program it calls Community Connect. Exwire customers can easily access the Internet from several cafes, ski resorts and other convenient public locations with Wi-Fi 802.11 enabled devices.

Community Connect locations in Tahoe include the Tahoe Truckee Airport, Tahoe Donner Ski Area, Wild Cherries Cafe and the Holiday Inn Express in Truckee, Syd’s Bagelry and Vicky’s Cyber Café in Tahoe City. Internet access is available through the Exwire network for $2.50 per hour, $8 per day, $23 per week, or $29 per month.

Exwire’s wireless networks also provide broadband service to home and business customers throughout other parts of North Lake Tahoe, including neighborhoods in Tahoe City, Truckee, Northstar and Alpine Meadows.

Exwire

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