Intel employees deploy hotspot on North Pole

Intel Corp. has admitted it is contributing to global warming — but not the bad kind. Two employees at Intel Russia have erected what may be the world’s most northerly Wi-Fi hotspot, 130 kilometres from the North Pole.

The hotspot was built in the Arctic Region at the Barneo ice camp, a tent complex used by scientists, researchers and rescue crews during the month of April, when ice conditions are safe.

Still, the camp environment is never ideal for computer devices, as the air temperature rarely rises above -30 Celsius, according to Intel.

Such extreme temperatures are bad for computer equipment since humidity inside the living tents, caused by the differences in indoor and outdoor temperatures, causes condensation to form on components. What’s more, batteries lose power rapidly in low temperatures.

Despite the challenges, the employees installed an 802.11b/g access point at the camp’s headquarters and then established a wireless LAN (WLAN) using four laptops with Intel’s Centrino mobile technology, the company said.

Another computer was placed outdoors and connected to a satellite phone to provide the network with Internet. The hotspot could be accessed by anyone at the camp who had a mobile or pocket PC, Intel said. The equipment survived the cold and worked reliably, according to Intel Russia’s Vsevolod Sementsov. The main problems were battery life and “backseat drivers,” Sementsov said.

The hotspot has already been taken down, but one Centrino-based laptop was left for polar researchers at the “North Pole 33” ice-drifting station, which is expected to deploy its own WLAN soon, Sementsov said. Intel pointed to the experiment as an example of how mobile technology allows users to work anywhere. Where better to test new equipment than the North Pole, it said.

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