Re-printed from The Olympian – FRONTPAGE : » News Published Dec. 16, 2005
Wireless Net links spread
Libraries join Wi-Fi trend
BY KATHERINE TAM, THE OLYMPIAN
Free wireless access began popping up downtown about three years ago, when Dave Olson and Jacob Stewart launched Zhonka Broadband. They were looking to join with cafes to provide free Internet access. They started out by asking merchants they knew.
“People said ‘What are you talking about? Who’s going to use it? This is nuts,’ ” Olson said. “But they said ‘OK.’ ”
The idea took off. The clientele changed at the 4th Ave. Tav, where people began coming in at the noon hour for lunch and free Wi-Fi, he said. Today, the laptop has become a fixture in coffee shops.
“It creates a third place,” Olson said. “You’ve got your office and your home. Sometimes you need to get away from the distractions and escape.”
Wi-Fi hot spots aren’t widely publicized — though Zhonka publishes a list online — but people have found a way to locate them. Banner said she looks for the distinctive “Zhonka” sticker in shop windows or looks for other laptop users. Word has spread through word of mouth for Caffe Vita, Fink said.