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The Wi-Fi Alliance is launching a new program starting today to create a global brand for easier recognition of public access hotspots. The Wi-Fi ZONE program will also include setting a minimum standard of quality for hotspots before they can label themselves a Wi-Fi ZONE or display the ZONE logo.
The Wi-Fi ZONE branding would be used in conjunction with whatever brands are also applicable to the venue provider -- for example, Starbucks Coffee shops could show the Wi-Fi ZONE brand along with the T-Mobile Hotspots logo to indicate they have public wireless access.
The Wi-Fi ZONE program, with a home at www.wi-fizone.org, is free to qualified providers who submit an application before March 31, 2003 -- once certified they'll be members for free until March 2004. Signing up for a ZONE license after March 31 will cost $100 each, with a maximum of $2000 to be charged per location. Licenses will be renewable after one year, but the first year they are pro-rated on a monthly basis to the renewal date. Wi-Fi Alliance member companies get 50% off on fees and only have to pay a max of $5,000 in total no matter what their coverage. Colleges, libraries, and government installations are exempt from paying the fees.
Each license covers three access points, so nine access points at a location would need three licenses.
To earn the license, hotspots must also meet the Wi-Fi Alliances baseline requirements for deployment. That includes using only Wi-Fi Certified equipment, using a minimum 2Mbps WAN connection to the Internet, 95% service and equipment uptime, making sure 802.11b is available even if 802.11a equipment is deployed, and more. Access points at venues must broadcast their SSID. Venues must sign an affidavit indicated they meet the requirements and have a completed radio frequency (RF) site survey on file with the Alliance before a license for ZONE branding is granted
This is just the first phase of the Wi-Fi ZONE program. The second will include use of the Wi-Fi ZONE Finder tool, a searchable database of qualified hotspots (similar to 802.11 Planet's sister site, 802.11 Hotspots.)