"Wi-Fi Guy" Visits Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/31/04

"Wi-Fi Guy" Visits Savannah

Kent Pingel, a.k.a. the Wi-Fi Guy, logs on wirelessly on River Street. Kent Pingel, a.k.a. the Wi-Fi Guy, logs on wirelessly on River Street.

Meet Kent Pingel, also known as the Wi-Fi Guy. His job is to travel the country, reporting on the state of wireless internet access--or wi-fi--in his web log--or blog.

"It seems like there's more and more popularity and publicity for blogs, it's just a new, gritty kind of journalism," he said on a recent trip through Savannah. "So I do that and there's usually something new posted every day. I have photo galleries from every city where I've been. Right now there are 29 cities on the site. I've traveled and blogged for 15,000 miles."

Since he started his trip this April, he says he's seen growth in the availability of wi-fi. "I can think of hotel chains where I've stayed repeatedly. On the first half of my tour, they didn't have have wi-fi, but then when I entered their hotel on the eastern half, same chain, same management, I'd see wi-fi had just been installed maybe two weeks before I got there."

In hotel rooms, coffee shops, ball parks, and Savannah's historic Reynolds Square, the Wi-Fi Guy has logged on just about everywhere. Traveling in his corporate-sponsored vehicle, he's only run into one problem due to the decals plastered over his windows. "I did get pulled over one time because of the decals," he said. "There was a highway patrol person in Wyoming and she just poked her head in to make sure I could see out properly."

He's hit cities big and small, and says cities like Savannah are often better adopters of new technology like wi-fi. "It seems like some of the mid-sized cities are more wi-fi oriented and more promotional of that than the large cities. I think the large cities take things for granted sometimes."

Every time Pingel hits a city, he'll roam around, scanning for hot spots and logging on. He uses a hot spot seeking keychain device, or even walks down the street with his laptop fired up. Sometimes he uses his bicycle, or as Pingel calls it, his "shuttlecraft."

He's been in cities all over the country, logging wirelessly and recording the experience for fans of his blog. So how's Savannah rate?

"I have a ratings system that goes from a scale of one to seven, seven being perfect," he said. "But just for whatever reason rather than gold stars, it's a rating system of body piercings. So I'm sure Savannah will score high on the body piercing scale."

We'll take that as a compliment.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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