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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST

Parks going broadband

June 01, 2004|Ashley Powers

How, officials in Austin, Texas, wondered, do we lure business types away from their Palm Pilots and into downtown parks?

Install free wireless Internet access. Let suited folk reply to e-mails with grass tickling their toes, oaks shadowing their screens, a fountain lapping nearby.

Last month, service was launched in Republic Square Park, the first of four city parks that will house wireless access points in the Texas capitol. Austin joins parks in New York City and Washington, D.C., where a wireless access card connects visitors to the Net. In D.C., parts of Capitol Hill have gone WiFi, with plans to link up the entire National Mall by midsummer. The L.A. city park commission could decide in the next month whether to make Pershing Square wireless.

"It allows you to do work but be in nature and be connected to the wild as much as you want to be," says Ted Siff of Austin Parks Foundation, a volunteer group.

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Ashley Powers

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