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High-speed wireless Net service launches

Newcomer Joltage plans to sell wireless high-speed Internet access on a national network made up of Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, networks.

Another company is jumping into the Wi-Fi pool.

Joltage launched Friday with plans to sell wireless high-speed Internet access on a national network made up of Wi-Fi, or 802.11b, wireless networks, Chief Executive Andrew Weinreich said Friday.

The company's move into the market follows EarthLink founder Sky Dayton's Boingo Wireless, which launched in December and has so far signed up nearly 600 different Wi-Fi providers to become part of its network.

Both companies use 802.11b wireless networks, which download Web pages at speeds much quicker than a digital subscriber line (DSL). But 802.11b has drawbacks, including a range of less than 300 feet and notoriously porous security. Despite that, Wi-Fi networks have grown in popularity, finding a place in thousands of businesses and homes.

While Boingo and Joltage are trying to do the same thing--sign up subscribers willing to pay a monthly fee for Internet access--they are going about it differently.

Boingo taps into existing wireless Internet sellers who use Wi-Fi to become part of their national network, splitting the monthly fee it charges with the networks. Dayton has described Boingo as a "service provider without its own network." Unlimited use costs $74.95 a month. It also offers more limited access for a lower fee.

Joltage is identifying places where Wi-Fi hasn't yet been installed and is lobbying caf? owners or independent hoteliers to install wireless networks, then signing them on to its network. Joltage charges a monthly fee of $24.99 for up to 60 hours or an hourly fee of $1.99 an hour.

"Boingo is dependent on other people to build out their Wi-Fi footprint," said Weinreich. "Our goal is to build out a footprint."

Boingo spokesman Christian Gunning doesn't see the two wireless providers as competitors because of their different approaches.

"This increases the argument for why Boingo is needed so we can work all of these networks together," he said.