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Largest Wi-Fi HotSpot in the World

You’d expect this story’s dateline to be New York City, L.A., or maybe San Francisco – not so welcome to the future via rural Oregon. Oh how we need such vision.

When Pigs Wi-Fi by Nicholas D. Kristof
HERMISTON, Ore.

This is cowboy country, where the rodeo is coming to town, the high school’s “kiss the pig” contest involves a genuine hog, and life seems about as high-tech as the local calf-dressing competition, when teams race to wrestle protesting calves into T-shirts.

But Hermiston is actually a global leader of our Internet future. Today, this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video – and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. (Note: it’s preferable to do this with someone else driving.)

This kind of network is the wave of the future, and eastern Oregon shows that it’s technically and financially feasible. …

Other American towns need to follow Hermiston, not necessarily in holding “kiss the pig” contests, but in ensuring broadband Internet access as reliably as they do water or electricity. The fact is, unless you’re a cowboy here in eastern Oregon, you’re behind the times.