Downtown Wireless Pilot Project

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WiFi ZoneThe Town of Chapel Hill has initiated a pilot project to offer free wireless Internet access in several areas of downtown Chapel Hill.

The project is intended to study the usage of free wireless Internet access in public areas. The service can be used to access email, web sites and other routine Internet activities.

WiFi map - click for PDF

How can I use this service?
The service is accessible along the downtown Franklin Street area by anyone with wireless computing equipment. All you need is a functioning device (laptop computer, PDA, Pocket PC) that contains a properly configured wireless network adapter.

What equipment do I need?
You can use any device that supports wireless connectivity and is capable of Internet functions. Typical devices include a laptop computer or a personal digital assistant (PDA). A wireless network card is required, though many new devices come with built-in wireless capability. If your laptop computer or PDA does not have a wireless network adapter installed, you must obtain one and properly install it before you can access the Internet through the Town’s wireless access points.

What is an Access Point?
An access point lets wireless devices connect to a network. The Town access points allow direct connection to the internet via a Clearwire wireless modem.

User Tip: The signal from the access point travels to your device in a straight line and you may encounter signal loss inside buildings or in areas where trees or other obstructions interfere with the signal path. You will get a better connection where there is a clear line of sight to the antenna.

What kind of wireless network adapter should I get?
Many brands of wireless network adapters are available. Though we do not specify a brand, the adapter you choose must be 802.11b or 802.11g compliant. That is to say it must support the 802.11b or 802.11g wireless network standard. Check packaging carefully if you are buying a new device. Otherwise, check the documentation that came with your current device to be sure it complies.

What is the IEEE 802.11 standard?
The IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN standard is a protocol established by the Wireless LAN Standards Committee that enables different brands of wireless LAN hardware to communicate on the same network.

What about security?
As with any Internet access, you should take appropriate security precautions.

Whom do I contact if I have trouble?
The Town of Chapel Hill provides free wireless access to the Internet in limited parts of downtown. However, the Town does not provide direct support to users of this service. A knowledgeable friend or network administrator from your organization may help if you have problems connecting.

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