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The Kentucky Derby races to wireless

During the 131st running of the roses last month, winner Giacomo wasn’t the only one heading towards the finish line. IT staff at Churchill Downs were racing towards their own goals too: deploying wireless technologies. For future races, the famed racetrack hopes to have bets on race horses placed using an Internet-based waging platform with wireless PDAs instead of walking up to a ticket window. These devices will allow race fans to look up information on the horses, place a bet and make food purchases. Initially, about 100 devices will be tested at Chuchill Down’s Twin Spires Club. Challenges include installing a WLAN at the racetrack and securing the wireless access points. IT staff hope to have the technology ready for use by this fall.

Flying the friendly Internet skies

Doing business while travelling is getting a whole lot easier for those who still want to check their e-mails while in the air. Last month, Japan Airlines started offering in-flight Internet service on flights between Tokyo and New York, the first time this service has been offered for trans-Pacific flights. The service is being offered through Connexion by Boeing, a satellite-delivered data service that enables airline passengers to access the Internet via WLAN-compatible PCs. The connection speed is 5Mbps downstream from the Internet to the aircraft and 1Mbps from the aircraft to the Internet. Users are able to use e-mail, browse the Web and access their corporate network through a VPN. Cost of the service is US$29.95 for the entire flight or US9.95 for the first 30 minutes and US$0.25 for each additional minute. A US$10 discount is available until July 15, 2005.

Blackberry gives directions

Nextel Communications Inc. and TeleNav Inc. have teamed up with Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion to bring you the ultimate back-seat driver. Available now on BlackBerry’s 7520 wireless handheld device is TeleNav’s GPS Navigation, a Java-based GPS navigation application. This GPS system displays maps, graphical driving cues, speed, direction and audible turn-by-turn directions to help drivers get to where they need to go. Other features include an interactive voice response system to input a destination, airport code, location information, business finder and even the ability to find a gas station with the lowest prices. As well, the GPS Navigation is able to use the addresses and locations stored in a user’s BlackBerry address book. In addition there are multilingual capabilities in such languages as Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Mobile telephony turns 20

Since 1985. wireless technology has come a long way, from those cluncky brick cell phones to ones that can fit in the palm of your hand. This year marks the 20th anniversary of mobile telephony in Canada and on June 8, 2005 the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) marked the anniversary with a conference and celebration event in Ottawa. Joining the CWTA were Bell Mobility, Motorola, Rogers Wireless and Telus Mobility. The event took a look at the early years of telephony and what up- and-coming techologies await the wireless world for the next 20 years. For more information on the celebrations, visit www.cwta.ca.

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