If I had to guess where this was happening, Austin would have been my first guess. Hell, it would have been my second and third guesses, too.
Free wireless Internet access has come to Austin's oldest park, where nature apparently is no longer enough to draw people into the urban outdoors.
"In these economically challenging times, we're still able to think outside the box and come up with new ways to enhance the park user's experience," said Jay Stone, acting assistant director of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
Stone said turning four downtown parks into free wireless hotspots is costing taxpayers only city staff time.
The project's $3,000 primary cost is underwritten by the Austin-based Schlotzsky's deli sandwich chain, which says it is the first national chain restaurant to offer free, wireless Internet access.
For Schlotzsky's, the project is a matter of marketing goodwill in a city that claims more free wireless Internet hotspots -- 114 by one recent count -- than any other city worldwide.
"I think it's because we're so hip, and we're on the cutting edge as a technology center here," said the restaurant's spokeswoman, Monica Landers. "I think Austinites love to be on the cutting edge."
So, will Houstonians be able to soon send romantic e-mail messages while sitting next to Hermann Park's duck pond?
"No. In a nutshell, no," said Shirley Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. "It sounds like a really novel idea, but with 57 community centers in Houston, it's just not something that we could consider at this time. We're having trouble even getting computers into these sites."
UPDATE: As noted in the comments, Schlotzsky's was offering Wi-Fi, at least in Austin, before McDonald's was, so the article's assertion about Schlotzsky's being the first to do so is correct.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 01, 2004 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack