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Hotels offer Net without reservation

Hotel guests will soon be able to enter cyberspace--through the lobby.

Guests at some of the biggest American hotel chains are going to have an easier time staying in touch with the Internet, thanks to a deal announced today by San Jose, California-based Fourth Communications Network.

Hilton, Radisson, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, and other major hotel chains have signed on to provide guests with Internet access via kiosks located in their business centers or lobby areas. Fourth Communication also announced that they are partnering with a German firm to provide Internet access in hotels across Europe.

A satellite connection at the hotel will provide a speedy link to the Internet at an estimated 25 times faster than a 14.4-kbps modem. Through the same link, hotels will be able to link television sets with a host of interactive shopping, messaging, and hotel guest services.

A company spokesperson said the most likely use for the Internet service is for the guest who wants to get email from the office or even download files. Currently the company has no plans to offer local online entertainment guides as a part of the package, although local entertainment resources will likely be listed as bookmarks for the kiosk's browser.

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