Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Charlotte's new AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone sparking questions

The groundbreaking new Wi-Fi "hotzone" AT&T launched in Charlotte on Monday is sparking questions from uptown Charlotte folks anxious to know if they're in the zone or not. Considering all the complaints we hear nationally and locally about people frustrated by AT&T's congested 3G network, it's just smart business for the carrier to give mobile customers an alternative entry ramp to the Web.

AT&T says the hotzone, a sort of a regular Wi-Fi hotspot on steroids, covers an area running along South Brevard Street from the NASCAR Hall of Fame to East Trade. One reader in Fourth Ward, which would seem to be outside the zone, said he saw AT&T workers installing a small tower at 8th and Poplar. He wondered if maybe Fourth Ward might be in the hotzone too.

The folks at AT&T say they can't provide a map of the hotzone, but note that the best way to know if you're in it is to simply turn the Wi-Fi feature on on your phone. When you're in range of the hotzone, the phone will automatically jump from the 3G network onto the hotzone. Here's how to make sure it's on:

  • First, activate Wi-Fi on your phone.
  • Once you are in range of the AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, select "attwifi" from the list of available networks. Most AT&T smartphones will automatically connect and authenticate on the AT&T Wi-Fi network.
  • Then launch your browser to access the Web.
  • After you've connected to an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot the first time, the next time you’re within range and launch your browser, you will be automatically logged on.
  • For more information on how to connect your specific device to Wi-Fi, visit

Monday, July 26, 2010

AT&T bringing wi-fi "hotzone" to uptown Charlotte

If you frequent uptown Charlotte and use AT&T's network for mobile communication, here's some excellent news: AT&T today is announcing that it has created a Wi-Fi "hotzone" uptown. The zone will provide coverage along South Brevard Street from the area near the NASCAR Hall of Fame plaza to East Trade Street. It will also be available for riders waiting to use the light rail trains.

It's only the second such project nationally for AT&T, which is using Wi-Fi to supplement its mobile broadband coverage in areas with what it calls "consistently high 3G traffic and mobile data use." (The first was in New York city's Times Square in May. A Third zone will be rolled out in Chicago in the coming weeks).

AT&T has struggled to keep up with soaring data usage by iPhones, netbooks, iPads and other internet-enabled devices. But it may be on to something -- use of the Times Square hotspot has proven better than expected.

"Our first AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone in New York City has received praise from our customers, and we're excited to introduce this Wi-Fi solution in Charlotte," AT&T senior vice president Angie Wiskocil said in a statement. "With these pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzones, we're examining new ways to use a combination of our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to deliver the best possible mobile broadband experience."

Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T's North Carolina operations, added: "This is further evidence of our continuing commitment to invest in North Carolina and bring the latest communications technology to this state."

AT&T customers, is this welcome news? Or would you have liked to see the company take a different path for improving your experience on its network?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top 10 things people want to know about Charlotte

The folks at the search engine just sent me their top 10 most asked questions about Charlotte. My takeaway: We've got a lot of newcomers looking for basic info on the area, a lot of sports nuts, and a lot of pre-teen girls dying to see His Hairness, Justin Bieber. Here are the top questions, along with's answers:
Top Questions Asked about Charlotte on
1. What county is Charlotte, North Carolina in?
Charlotte, North Carolina is located in Mecklenburg County.
2. What is the population of Charlotte, North Carolina?
The population in Charlotte is approximately 756,912.
3. Who owns the Charlotte Bobcats?
Hall of Fame basketball player, Michael Jordan, is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
4. What is there to do in Charlotte?
Charlotte has something for everyone, from major sporting events to historic Carolina charm. Charlotte also boasts major shopping centers like SouthPark Mall and Concord Mills, as well as "NoDa" (Arts District north of Uptown), where you'll find an assortment of cool galleries and a hot lineup of live bands performing almost every evening.
5. What is the closest beach to Charlotte?
The closest beaches to Charlotte, North Carolina are Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, and the Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. The nearest beach would be around a 4 hour drive from Charlotte, which is about 178 miles from Myrtle Beach.
6. Why is Charlotte called the Queen City?
The city is named for Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Germany, who became the bride of England's King George III. In 1768, founders named it "Charlotte Town" in an attempt to win favor with the crown.
7. Will the Carolina Panthers be Super Bowl material this season?
Most experts put them in the middle of the pack, with odds of winning the Super Bowl ranging from 30/1 to 55/1.
8. Are Justin Bieber concert tickets sold out in Charlotte?
Tickets for the August 8th show at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte are sold out. However, there are still plenty of tickets available via third party resale sites.
9. How much are tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
Adult tickets are $19.95. Tickets for children are $12.95.
10. When is the next Charlotte Restaurant Week?
Charlotte Restaurant Week is Friday, July 16 - Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Facebook to users: How'd we change your life?

Facebook is expected to hit the 500-million user mark sometime this week, a milestone that's long been expected but one the social networking juggernaut plans to celebrate by asking users to share their stories of how Facebook has affected their lives. You can even share yours with Facebook using a special form they've set up, and the company says it plans to share the best stories with its entire audience. While it's still derided by skeptics as everything from a privacy risk to a waste of time to a destroyer of face-to-face interaction, it's getting harder and harder to deny that social networks like Facebook are revolutionizing the way people communicate. If you doubt it, just drop in later this week when the networking group Social Media Charlotte holds its monthly breakfast at Mez uptown. A panel of local business owners will talk about how they've used social networks like Facebook to build their brand and customer base. There are issues of real concern that the rise of social networks present -- none, perhaps, loom larger than ensuring the proper handling of people's private information. Still, there's no putting this particular genie back in the bottle, I'm afraid. There's even a Facebook movie about to hit theaters, for pete's sake.

What do you think? Has the advent of social networks like Facebook done more good than harm? Has anything happened to you on Facebook that's given you an experience or "story" worth sharing with 500 million people?