SUNDAY MAGAZINE

Are you wi-fi?

SEVANTI NINAN

WE haven't got there yet, but people in other parts of the world have. Last week, Click Online on BBC World stopped by Bryant Park in New York where you can sit on a bench and log on to the Net via your laptop. It is covered by a wi-fi network (wireless fidelity), which is the latest thing in hassle-free internet access. It uses antennae and radio waves transmitted by a wireless base station, which is linked to the Net. The antennae are access points, the area thus enabled is called a hotspot, and if your lap top is enabled with a wi-fi card, you can get connected minus wires if you are within a few metres of an antenna.

The technology is not expensive but its fallout could be for a big corporation like Time Warner which owns AOL (America Online.) It retails bandwidth, whereas with wi-fi bandwidth, and high speed access at that — could come free. There is already a free wireless movement promoting wi-fi free of cost. The programme quoted John Klos of New York City Wireless saying, "I think that Time-Warner is caught in the same way that the music industry is caught."

While the technology is on its way to making all public spaces potential work or communication spaces-parks, coffee shops, airports, railway stations, cars — it will also see entrepreneurs jumping in trying to make a neat buck of it. Click Online gave the example of Starbucks which is charging up to $50 a month for wireless service in 1,200 of its stores.

For India, its most exciting possibilities could be in providing wireless rural access in those States where internet backbones are already being laid through cable. Link an internet hub to a transmitter, and multiply its wireless reach through as many antennae as its range can support. From this month people in a 10 square km catchment area in largely rural Wales will be part of a wi-fi experiment which extends Europe's wireless internet network to them.

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Here is the sort of paper work that the Government of India routinely does with a straight face in its self-appointed quest to provide enlightenment and entertainment to its citizens. With tax payers' money, one might add.

Press release issued by Prasar Bharati, Broadcasting Corporation of India, Directorate General of Doordarshan, Issued for favour of publication/broadcast/telecast. Copy to: Press Information Bureau, DPIO, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi — 2 copies. Press Trust of India, New Delhi — 2 copies United News of India, New Delhi — 2 copies, Editors of National Newspapers based at Delhi. Director, Doordarshan Kendra, New Delhi — 2 copies, Director, Central Production Centre, New Delhi, Directors, Doordarshan Kendra, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Director (Sales), Doordarshan Commercial Service, New Delhi — 2 copies, ADG (News), Doordarshan, New Delhi, Controller of Marketing, Marketing Division, Prasar Bharati, Mumbai, DG: All India Radio — 2 copies,. Sr. Officers in Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan). "Doordarshan is telecasting a serial titled Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. It is a Dare show where an Anchor, Nitin Arora, goes to different places in India and tries to challenge people to do few dares and whosoever wins gets lots of prizes from `Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander'. Episode No. 8. Dare — 1 Throwing a cake on somebody's mouth. One cake of one kg. Has to be thrown on a person's mouth in one min. time. Dare — 2 Balancing book on head having one egg up on the spoon in the mouth and playing football. Carrying all these things, a person has to walk down 100 mts. Destination in one minute. Dare — 3 Macaroni & Coin. A person has to find one rupee coin from tub which is full of Macaroni in 15 sec."

Signed by the Director PR for Director General.

Press Release no. 2 issued by Prasar Bharati, etc, etc, copy to Press Information Bureau, DPIO, Ministry of Information and Braodcasting ... etc., etc. "Doordarshan is telecasting a serial titled `Sau Din Saas Kay'. The serial is a (sic) unique comedy show. In this show, comedy punches between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law which are connected with latest songs. Mother-in-Law character is played by famous theatre artist, Reeta Kapoor and daughter-in-law character is played by well known model and actress Seema Rawat and the Chemistry between both the artists is marvellous on the screen." Issued, as always, for favour of publication/broadcast/telecast.

Press Release no 3, issued by the self-same Prasar Bharati Broadcasting Corporation of India, copies to all of the above eminences. "Synopsis of serial Chori Chori Chupke Chupke. Episode no. 15. Madhu calls her Mama to help her to get married to Aman. Mama cites a clause from Madhu's grandfather's will stating that if Madhu doesn't get married within a week's time, 20 lakhs in Madhu's name would go to charity. Madhu's father, Totaram agrees to fix Madhu's marriage with Aman. Totaram goes to meet Aman's father, Sethi, who refuses to consider his proposal first but later agrees. Amma feels happy about it ..." Press Release no. 4 — are you sure you want to hear more?

Legends of Cricket: For all of this month there is competition on weekdays from ESPN to all those prime time soap operas on the entertainment channels. At 8.30 p.m. daily a cricketer is being profiled out of 25 cricket legends. The series began last week with Allan Border at no. 25 and will end on November 4 with Sir Donald Bradman who is no. 1. Sachin Tendulkar is ranked at no. 7 and will be featured on October 25. Strictly for cricket buffs.

Media savvy Modi?: Should he be re-elected in Gujarat what is the one thing that he would like to change about his style of governance, a BBC interviewer asked Narendra Modi last fortnight. I will try to improve my communication with the media, the Chief Minister said with a meaningful smile. This came at the end of an interview in which he lashed out at the media for its selective quoting.

E-mail the writer at sevantininan@vsnl.com

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