Wireless ahoy!

* Wireless on a cruise ship, at a beach

Welcome to another edition of "Would you ...", where we explore some of the new services and applications that seem out of the ordinary.

*Would You Make a Cell Phone Call from a Cruise Ship?

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) hopes so. The company announced last week plans to offer passengers on North American cruises the ability to use their cell phones on board, even with communications towers "oceans away."

In a joint initiative with AT&T Wireless and the Maritime Telecommunications Network, the Wireless Maritime Services project will be available on the Norwegian Sun as soon as September, and could be installed on NCL's entire fleet within a year, the company said.

The service will be available to passengers with GSM phones that work at 900 MHz and 1900 MHz (common for U.S. customers). Users with data-enabled GSM/GPRS devices will also be able to access e-mail and picture messaging. NCL says passengers will be billed by the carrier they subscribe to at the roaming rates set by that carrier, as if they were roaming on land instead of in the middle of the ocean.

This isn't the first technology that NCL has implemented. In 1999, the company installed Internet cafés on its ships, and in 2002, it began providing Wi-Fi wireless LAN service.

So the next time you go on a cruise, not only should you not forget to bring your laptop, but bring your cell phone along as well. That is, if your spouse lets you.

* Would You Move to California to get Free Wi-Fi?

If you lived in Hermosa Beach or Culver City, you wouldn't have to move to get free Wi-Fi.

Nomadix last week announced that it installed one of its gateways in a "HotZone" in Hermosa Beach, which will offer free Internet service in about 35% of the city, including downtown, City Hall and even the beach.

In Culver City, Firetide and Wireless Hotspot announced a free citywide wireless Internet access network. The Culver City network launched Sept. 9, in an official ceremony at the Culver City Town Plaza. The Culver City HotZone is about one square mile, covering a downtown business district.

For more details on either of these networks, go to http://www.nomadix.com, http://www.firetide.com or http://www.wirelesshotspot.com.

Thanks for playing. These are rhetorical questions, no need to send e-mail to me at kshaw@nww.com. Unless you want to, of course.

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