1st Public Free WiFi Hotspot

In 2002, I set up the first FREE PUBLIC wireless (WiFi) network in Dallas at the Crossroads Market & Bookstore on Cedar Springs Road, and continued this free service offering through July 2003 (free to the store as well as the users).

At the time, for-pay WiFi access was just emerging (such as T-Mobile setting up their first access points in early 2003).

In Spring 2003, “Wired” Magazine did a nationwide survey on the availability of public WiFi spots (for pay or free) and listed Dallas as the 7th of the top 10 “un-wired” cities in the US – naming the Crossroads Market free WiFi access as the reference.

The setup at the Crossroads Market included:

  • Professional S-DSL connection to the Internet (Synchronous DSL with equal upload & download speeds – contrary to the less feasible, but popular A-DSL as found in most homes and business still today, with limited upload capabilities)
  • Full UPS back-up power (during several power outages in the area, battery-powered laptops could still surf the Internet, while the café was dark from the powerloss)
  • UNIX-based management system located in the ceiling of the bookstore for remote management
  • Professional dual-antenna Cisco WiFi access point, covering the cafe, the bookstore, as well as neighboring businesses
  • Due to the free access at the Crossroads Market, competing cafe’s in the neighborhood chose to make their WiFi access also free to their customers.

With an ownership change of the Crossroads cafe and bookstore, the service offering changed to a for-pay system; neighboring businesses (such as the “Buli” Cafe in a 50-yard distance) continued to offer their WiFi service at no cost to their customers – today, many years later, this is a globally established standard. I just did it for the first time :)