Skype 2.8 for Mac adds per-minute hotspot access: Skype calls this feature "still in beta," and it's been available for months in pre-release versions. The Skype Access feature ties into 100,000 hotspots worldwide, and requires a per minute fee of €0.16 or US 22¢ (including tax/VAT). While that's high, it's cheaper than an international call from a cell phone in most markets, and cheaper than paying $4 to $12 for a daypass when you need a few minutes. At $13.20/hr, it's egregiously high for routine use, even in expensive Wi-Fi markets, so I'm not confident this will catch on. It seems more of a nifty demo. Boingo's mobile price is just US$7.95/mo with no contract, although it works only with mobile phones; the global plan (with 2,000 minutes per month) is $59. The Skype Access feature is Mac only at present.
Google asks public about its Mountain View service: The Los Altos, Calif., paper says that Google will have a public forum tonight at 7 pm to discuss what it's learned from a running a Wi-Fi network across Mountain View, and ask for feedback. The service has been in operation since 2006. Punters speculated back then that this was part of a national free Wi-Fi network Google would built out; I was mostly skeptical. About 19,000 users access the network, which consists of 500 access points, each month.
Australian police patrol for open hotspots: Should some volunteer wardrivers do this work, instead? The Queensland police will patrol for open hotspots and then advise residents. The police are concerned about crime happening over open Wi-Fi networks. A detective superintendent says "crooks were now sharing information on satellite maps showing vulnerable areas with large numbers of unsecured networks." Remember a decade or so ago, when police were convinced that millions of Satanists were conducting secret rituals? Community education forums and an explanation of how to notice and report network misuse would probably be time better spent.
Wi-Flowers from Toyota: The car firm has giant flowers--apparently solar powered--that have power outlets and Wi-Fi signals. Toyota is touring the 18-foot-tall "flowers" in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles from July to October. Pictures.
Cablevision expands Wi-Fi in parts of New York: The service, only available and at no cost to its cable broadband subscribers, is now active in Orange and Rockland counties in New York.