Providing drivers wireless Internet access
Apr 1, 2003 12:00 PM, [Compiled by Gary Macklin • email@example.com]
As more and more drivers travel with computers, finding a place to reach the Internet has become a valuable resource. A recently announced alliance between Petro Stopping Centers, a truckstop company based in El Paso, Texas; Flying J Inc, an oil company from Ogden, Utah; and SmartStop Wireless Solutions of Portland, Oregon, adds 214 more Internet access locations nationwide. Named the Travel Plaza Alliance Network, the new collaboration will provide a secure wireless communications network at Flying J Travel Plaza and Petro Stopping Centers at locations throughout the US and Canada.
The system will use IEEE 802.11 wireless technology, a product known to its users as WiFi. Flying J has spent the past few months installing its network in a project that now is approximately half complete. Commercial use of the Flying J system should be available by mid-April 2003. The larger system from the three combined network partners will debut shortly thereafter. The Travel Plaza Alliance Network will provide carriers and their drivers with a common platform for transmission and receipt of personal and business data. The wireless network also will be available to the general public using alliance facilities.
The network is designed to provide the convenience of WiFi technology to Flying J clients and to those clients who also do business with Petro and SmartStop Wireless Solutions, says J Phillip Adams, Flying J president. As it matures, the alliance will invite other truckstop chains and related businesses to participate. It should help eliminate much of the confusion and cost that result from fragmented and often incompatible Internet services in the trucking industry, he says.
Adding Petro locations to the alliance will increase the number of locations where WiFi can be used, says Jim Cardwell, chief operating officer for Petro. It offers a cohesive step forward in technology while allowing the partners to maintain their own separate business interests, he says.
Allowing additional members to join the alliance will help meet a need in the trucking industry for a secure wireless communication system that can support a variety of users, Cardwell says. One of the next steps will be to upgrade the present 802.11 technology to the faster 802.11b system, which should reduce costs for alliance users and ensure that members are not saddled with obsolete equipment.
Flying J is a fully integrated oil company with annual sales of $4.7 billion in 2002. It employs more than 11,500 people in its exploration, production, refining and supply, transportation, retail, telecommunications, and financial services divisions. It is ranked number 45 among the list of 500 largest private companies published by Forbes magazine.
Founded in 1975, Petro Stopping Centers operates Iron Skillet Restaurants, Petro Travel Stores, and Petro: Lube truck maintenance centers. Cardwell says that professional truck drivers were the target market envisioned at the company's founding.
SmartStop Wireless Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of SmartStop Inc and is dedicated to providing wireless services to trucking and truckstops. The company provides dedicated voice and data networks and public access communications.
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.