Footing the Bill for Free Wi-Fi

Groups that provide wireless access at no charge are evolving various ways to get their expenses paid -- including going commercial

When a Portland (Ore.) TV station, Channel 6, retired its satellite van recently, Nigel Ballard snatched it up on the cheap. Ballard runs the Joejava Wireless Consultancy, and he installs wireless networks for hotels. He's also one of a dozen volunteers who run a free wireless network that locals can use to connect to the Web at broadband speeds. He figured that his volunteer group, called Personal Telco, could use the van to provide free Net access at outdoor events, though until the vehicle is repainted, most curiosity seekers rush over mainly to see if they can get on TV.

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