Outpacing typical trendsetters Los Angeles (No. 13) and New York (No. 23), Portland and its residents are quickly embracing this new unwired lifestyle, evidenced in part by the region's growing number of "hotspots." Hotspots are areas where users can tap into WiFi - short for wireless fidelity networks - with their laptop PCs, personal digital assistants and other devices. They enjoy a truly mobile experience without the constraint of a fixed or wired connection.
Following Portland on the top 10 unwired MSA list are San Francisco; Austin, Texas; Seattle; Orange County, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; San Diego; Denver; Ventura, Calif.; and Boston. The West leads all other regions with eight metropolitan areas in the top 10.
The Intel "Most Unwired Cities" survey was conducted by Bert Sperling, a research analyst well known for compiling Money Magazine's annual "Best Places to Live" feature.
"For so long, being 'wired' was shorthand for being connected to the Internet," Sperling said. "Now, we don't need the wires. Wireless network technology is changing the way people work and live in these cities."
More than 3,700 hotspots are currently in the United States. They appear in such unexpected locations as a barbershop on Long Island, a chowder house in Seattle, a pub in California's Lake Tahoe and a pool hall on Maui. In addition, such companies as Starwood Hotels, Marriott International Inc. and Connexion by Boeing are enabling customers to enjoy an unwired mobile computing experience while sitting in a hotel lobby or while flying at 30,000 feet.
"WiFi is the most revolutionary technology to hit the computing world since the arrival of the Internet browser in the early 1990s," said Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Communications Group. "WiFi promises to do for computing what cell phones did for voice communication. It is eliminating boundaries and allowing people to access the Internet and communicate freely while they're on the go."