Wireless Internet in 85 California State Parks

California State Parks and SBC Communications Inc. announced a new agreement that will bring wireless high-speed Internet access—better known as Wi-Fi to the picnic tables, tents, RV spaces and cabins of more than 70 million visitors who enjoy the State Park system every year.

Wi-Fi is short for wireless fidelity, and it enables park visitors with wireless-enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access the Internet at speeds of 50 to 100 times as fast as a dial-up connection.

Park visitors will be able to gain Wi-Fi access when they use a wireless device within about 150 to 200 feet of a SBC hot spot located in the park.

San Elijo State Beach, located outside of San Diego, is the first state park to offer SBC FreedomLink service. Over the next six months, 84 other California state parks will become SBC Wi-Fi locations, making this the largest Wi-Fi deployment in any park system nationwide. The California state park locations will be added to the more than 6,000 hot spots that make up the SBC Wi-Fi network, which is one of the nation’s largest Wi-Fi networks

Through April 15, 2005, SBC DSL customers can receive unlimited access to the more than 6,000 FreedomLink hot spots at no charge, and pay just $1.99 a month with a one-year term commitment thereafter. Park visitors who are not currently SBC Wi-Fi customers can purchase a 24-hour SBC Wi-Fi session for $7.95 or a monthly SBC membership for $19.95 and receive unlimited access to SBC hot spots nationwide.

“We are living in a time when more and more people are communicating through the Internet,” said State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. “I think our visitors will appreciate a new service that helps them stay in touch with family, friends, or even the workplace if need be, and so we are excited about launching this project with SBC.”

“We’re pleased to be the first Wi-Fi provider in California state parks, providing travelers with the added convenience of wireless high-speed Internet access in remote areas,” said Lora Watts, president, SBC California external affairs. “Now travelers will benefit from using our affordable and reliable Wi-Fi service at more than 700 locations throughout California and thousands more nationwide.”

Consumers increasingly are using the Internet to make their vacation and recreation planning easier, safer, and more enjoyable. While at the park, visitors with Wi-Fi enabled laptops can send e-mail and instant messages to communicate with family and friends, share digital pictures of their vacation, obtain driving directions or locate hiking trails or nearby restaurants.

“I’m also very pleased that visitors to our Wi-Fi enabled parks will have free access to state operated web sites, including our award-winning site,,” Coleman said. “Through our web sites, visitors can do an electronic exploration of our park system to obtain ideas for their vacation.”

Coleman noted that park visitors will benefit from free Wi-Fi access to state web sites such as where they can make campground reservations, which provides updates on road conditions and, the state’s tourism site.

Officials said the addition of this technology is not unlike the first pay phone that was added to the park system in the 20th century. The pay phone was used by people to stay-in-touch with family and friends. In the 21st century, people are asking for Internet access for the same reasons—to stay connected.

The Wi-Fi network equipment will be virtually invisible within the park system. The access points, or antennas, are about the size of a small plate and easily concealable. Other necessary equipment is about the size of a common stereo receiver, easily placed on a shelf within the existing park buildings.

Customers can view a list of SBC Wi-Fi locations and obtain ordering information by visiting Freedomlink.