Parsons seems to have underestimated the difficulty in unwiring one of the longer, popular ferry routes in Washington State: The Washington State Ferries (WSF) have had Wi-Fi on more frequently used routes for three years, starting with a long-running pilot project that Parsons took over last year. When I spoke to the firm that was running the trial in 2004, they made it clear that the curvy passage for the Bremerton-Seattle run--a 55-minute ride--involved several antennas and rights of way issues.
So it's to my surprise that The Seattle Times this morning writes that Bremerton ferry riders are a little peeved that Wi-Fi is on several other major routes, but not theirs. Bremerton is on the Olympic Peninsula, where housing is still cheaper than in Seattle proper. It's not unusual to have this kind of relatively relaxing commute (less so for drivers, who may have to wait for one or more ferries).
Service is now expected for July because Parsons ran afoul of a rule in one place in siting an antenna, and in another case hadn't yet secured roof rights on the tallest building in Seattle. Seems like pretty poor planning. And why do I know something as a reporter that a multi-billion-dollar firm seemed unaware of? There's a missing piece.
The article also cites Parsons's need to get a license from the FCC, which doesn't make sense. Were they purchasing a license? If they already had a licensed frequency they wanted to use for backhaul, the FCC isn't involved.
The three routes noted in the article, the Winslow/Bainbridge Island, Clinton/Whidbey Island, and Kingston runs, carry more than 50 percent of the system's traffic and, by extension, more than 25 percent of the passenger ferry traffic in the US. The WSF carries about half of all ferry rider trips in the US.
The company wouldn't release statistics on use or subscriptions, but here's a tip to all WSF riders: While Parsons charges $29.95 per month for unlimited use just on their system, you can pay $21.95 per month to Boingo Wireless and have access to thousands of locations and the ferry system at no extra charge.