An Internet phone system really isn't very much use without an Internet connection. If you are a road
For those who do not have this experience, I cover a few ways to locate and use Internet access points while you are on the road.
For a much more
Internet hotspots are all the rage today. Many companies are making good money providing this service to travelers in airports and customers of
Let's take a look at a few ways you can locate a hotspot.
Most large airports offer Internet access to travelers. Often, you can obtain information about available hotspots by visiting an information desk or simply by powering up your notebook computer and seeing whose hotspot home page pops up when you
Because you might feel a bit self-conscious unpacking all your Internet phone gear in a busy airport terminal, you may opt for a softphone in this environment.
The most likely places to find an Internet hotspot, coffee shops have a reputation as being places to connect and communicate. Some provide free access; others use fee-based hotspot solutions provided by
Like airports, coffee shops are probably best suited to softphones.
Many shopping malls are beginning to offer public hotspots to give their patrons better communication
Many hotspot locators are available on the Internet ( Figure 9.5 ). These tools let you enter information about the area you are searching and return a list of public hotspots that you can use in that area.
Figure 9.5. The JiWire Global Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder allows you to list all known public hotspots in a given area.
These locators are
Hotels and conference centers often offer a mixture of wired and wireless Internet options. Many offer wired high-speed Internet in guest rooms and wireless hotspots in public meeting areas. Before you travel, call ahead to your hotel to find out exactly which options it offers and what you will need to bring along to get your systems connected.
If you plan to use your TA and a notebook computer in your room, consider bringing along a compact Internet gateway (
), which offers all the features of a larger gateway in a more compact
Figure 9.6. Linksys makes the WRT54GC compact gateway especially for travelers and those with limited desk space in their home office.
If you plan to stay at your hotel for some time, setting up your system like you do at home will allow you to use the full capabilities of your VoIP service. In addition, having a familiar telecommunications setup will help you be more productive and is worth the extra effort that it takes to bring it on the trip.
Many hotels and conference centers offer business-center services where you can use networked computers, copiers, faxes, and printers ( Figure 9.7 ). Many of these centers also offer connections for your own equipment. If you do not have high-speed Internet in your room, you can use these facilities to connect and communicate from your hotel.
Figure 9.7. The business center at the Grand Hotel Minneapolis
Many cities are undertaking wireless Internet initiatives to provide their citizens affordable access to broadband Internet. Cities like Grand Haven, Michigan, and Chaska, Minnesota, have installed systems that let
Figure 9.8. Coverage map for Chaska.net in Chaska, Minnesota
If you are interested in wireless Internet in your community,
Using wireless Internet
"But my TA needs a wired connection!" you exclaim.
There are a few tricks, however, to getting connected to a wireless network.
Wireless Network Bridges
One way to connect to a wireless network is to find a way to enable your equipment to communicate
Figure 9.9. The Linksys WET54GS5 connects up to five wired network devices to a wireless network.
To connect your TA to the wireless network, complete the instructions provided in the bridge's quick-start guide. When the bridge is online, connect and power up your TA. It should locate your provider and be available for calls within a few minutes.
Many manufacturers are now producing phones that are designed to connect to wireless networks and make Internet calls (
). These phones include wireless network transceivers along with the functionality of a TA, all in a package about the size of a
Figure 9.10. The Cisco 7920 Wireless IP phone
The computer and networking press has published many
Wireless phones do have their limitations. Hotspot operators must make a provision in their networks for these devices. Many hotspots require some form of authentication that verifies your identity before they will allow you to use the network, but these phones have no way to accomplish this. Open hotspots, such as those in many airports and convention centers, allow these phones to connect and call without any problem.
As wireless phones gain popularity, more hotspots will begin to support them, making them more useful as an alternative to cell phones or softphones.