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Case Western Brings Wireless to Cleveland Airport

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH recently completed a project to bring free WiFi to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), which has 12 million visitors annually. The university worked on the initiative with OneCommunity, a non-profit organization that serves Northern Ohio by connecting public and nonprofit institutions to the region's fiber-optic network.

WiFi coverage in the terminal will include all of the areas covered by a former pay service--four concourses and the ticketing /boarding level of the main terminal--and will also extend coverage to the baggage claim area. Users will be required to accept a terms and conditions statement.

The university's vice president for IT Services, Lev Gonick, was instrumental in starting OneCommunity in 2006 with the support of former Mayor Jane Campbell and other public-sector organizations. Telecommunications and utility companies have donated about 500 miles of fiber optic rings in the area, which had been dormant.

According to Gonick, wireless service at the airport has been one of the most sought-after services in Cleveland, based on feedback he's received from a blog entry he wrote four years ago about a vision for an "Airport of the Future Digital City."

Implementing the network, Gonick said, positions Cleveland as a city that's "forward looking and progressive." Plus, he added, "When you turn on your computer, it says, 'Your free wireless is provided by Case Western.' So I'd expect that Cleveland's anchor institution is being co-branded. Free wireless at the airport will provide significant value to families and business travelers and hopefully get across that the university is associated with that service, which is the kind of message we're trying to share in addition to pretty pictures and posters on the walls [of the airport] about our campus."

The university provided the technical architecture for the network and is underwriting the effort. OneCommunity purchased the gear.

Anticipating thousands of regular users, Gonick said the next challenge for the effort will be maintaining availability. "The other piece of it will be, what do we have to do next? What else do we do at the Cleveland Airport to demonstrate it as a gateway to the community?"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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