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A Benchmark Survey of Wi-Fi

Circa 2004: A Benchmark Sample

Much has changed since we first beat the streets in search of the perfect Wi-Fi hotspot a few years ago, but all good research starts with a benchmark. Here is a sample of what we found back in the day.

Atlanta

Rating: 6 of 7
Places Visited: CNN, Moe’s, Joe Muggs, Javaology
“Joe Muggs Newsstand in Buckhead get’s a perfect score — 7 o’ 7 — good stores design, good variety of reading material, great free Wi-Fi and great Wi-Fi enthusiasts.”

Austin

Rating: 7 of 7
Places Visited: The University of Texas, Little City, Magnolia Café, The Austin City Limits Music Festival, Mozart’s, Barton Springs, Schlotsky’s, Zanzibar, Seattle’s Best Coffee
“Have no doubt I am biased, and I love the city. Austin is pretty much widely accepted as one of the — if not THE — most Wi-Fied cities in the United States. Small wonder The Wi-Fi Alliance relocated to ‘The Third Coast.'”

Boston

Rating: 6 of 7
Places Visited: Freedom Trail, Jurys Boston Hotel, Fairmont, Marriott, Martha’s Vineyard
“I arrived in Boston as the Democratic National Convention took its balloons and went home. Everywhere — the same report … the mass transit system was inconvenienced and “the delegates didn’t spend any money” to benefit the local economy. But other than that, an overwhelming success.”

Chicago

Rating: 4 of 7
Places Visited: Caribou Coffee, De Paul University, Millennium Park, Hancock Tower
“Again, The Wi-Fi Guy tour seemed to be in the right place at the right time, on-location in Chicago at Caribou Coffee for the announcement that Caribou signed on with a new Wi-Fi provider, SBC’s FreedomLink. Technically, I was in a Chicago suburb, Oak Park, sitting in a Caribou Coffee.”

Kansas City

Rating: 4 of 7
Places Visited: The Plaza, Cherries on Ward Parkway, Muddy’s, Fairmont, Union Station, Starbucks
“The Fairmont was added to my Kansas City stop because they have added an aggressive wireless and high-speed Internet offering for their guests. In the comfortably elegant rooms, there is DSL via wires … And then in the lobby, restaurant and pool areas, there was a strong Wi-Fi signal.”

Las Vegas

Rating: 3 of 7
Places Visited: Piercing Convention, Starbucks, a casino or two
“This is trade show capital of the universe. Each year, there are probably more journalists visiting Vegas than any other city. Many of the shows are technical in nature … but I have seen journalists stuck at dialups, or forced to send e-mail from hotel kiosks. What’s up with that?”

Los Angeles

Rating: 5 of 7
Places Visited: UCLA, Boba Loca, Starbucks, Hear Music, Coffee Bean
“But here is why I am so excited. I am at a Starbucks location that has been added to the Hear Music store on The Promenade. It’s like I am in a dream and someone created a store just for me. Holy cross-promotion! At Hear Music, you can sample most of the cool music you hear at any Starbucks. AND, you can go to a HP listening post, slap on some headphones, scroll through musical searches, select what you want and burn your own CD.”

Miami

Rating: 5 of 7
Places Visited: Coconut Grove, South Beach, Johnny Rockets, The Clevelander
“I was listening to radioio.com when the music stopped and I heard a little buzzzzzzzip in the headphones. Nothing left at that point but the moonlight. So, my kill ratio on laptops just doubled. The first one was a full bodied, dark roasted motherboard in Seattle. This time, the motherboard fell victim to Miami heat.”

New York

Rating: 6 of 7
Places Visited: Hell’s Kitchen, Rockefeller Plaza, Central Park, Bryant Park, Battery Park
“The black-tie event, a fundraiser in the upper ballroom of Battery Gardens provided an excellent view into a microcosm of true New York … the firefighter culture or more accurately, brotherhood. Super nice guys, no holds barred at the open bar … and lots of hugging and toasting and I think all 35 — maybe more — took a turn at the microphone.”

San Francisco

Rating: 5 of 7
Places Visited: SBC Park (Giants Stadium), SFO, Venture Frog, City Hall, Fisherman’s Wharf, Reverie, Golden Gate Bridge
“Bram Goodwin picked me up at my hotel, drove me around the sites of The Haight, introducing me to just about everyone – Craig Newmark, a stately doctor wearing a Star Trek pin, chefs, writers .. His favorite coffee shop, Reverie, doesn’t have Wi-Fi, in spite of the four or five computer users, sitting elbow to elbow, laptops clicking.”

Seattle

Rating: 6 of 7
Places Visited: Original Starbucks (Pike Place), Cyclops Café, Zeitgeist, Tully’s
“Big news in Seattle! … another untimely demise — Cometa as a Wi-Fi provider. I am sitting at Tully’s Coffee at First & Yesler. Yes sir, it is raining … I rushed in to this coffee shop to try out the Cometa hotspot, before Tully’s service goes down. Hopefully another provider will step in.”