Businesses sprout wireless systems |

Businesses sprout wireless systems

Susan Wood

Even coffee drinkers won’t need to get wired with the latest in computer technology while in South Lake Tahoe.

Just ask casino musician David Ragsdale, a violinist for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe entertainer Jimmy Hopper.

Ragsdale spent Wednesday with Hopper doing more downloads to access musical compositions than drinking java at Alpen Sierra Coffee Co.

The coffee house near Stateline is one of a growing number of wireless sites in the Tahoe area.

“It’s a highway of possibilities out there,” said Ragsdale, sharing the table with his Las Vegas-based production crew.

The Internet access was a welcome surprise to Lodi resident Stephanie Aman. She was registering Wednesday to enroll at Cal State Sacramento where she will major in childhood development.

“I didn’t know they had this here,” she said.

Aman makes a point of seeking Internet cafes where she travels.

“They’re hard to find,” she said.

The wireless sites will get easier to spot in Tahoe if Michael Greenstein has anything to say about it.

The Stateline-area technology authority, who runs Hot Spots Kiosks, has teamed up with hotels to offer wireless capability in BlueGo units. He plans to expand the list into auxiliary businesses and agencies – they range from Wildmans Coffee and Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Base Lodge to the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Community College.

With a laptop, PC tablet or personal digital assistant, users may log on to the BlueGo Wireless Web service near the kiosks for $4.95 for two hours; $9.95 for a full day; $29.95 for a week; and $49.95 for a month. The deal turns out to be a revenue-sharing venture with the host property.

The BlueGo transit system gets about a third of the revenue, while the property owner rakes in a 10 percent cut.

Users can stand 30 to 300 feet from the base unit to access their computers. In the next few weeks, Greenstein will have prepaid cards printed that customers may plug into the system during the boot up.

Screens welcome the user to the BlueGo transit system Web site as well as the host hotel or business.

“Something has needed to be done for a while. I believe the extensive network will get tourists up here at midweek,” he said.

Many hotels suffer huge drops in midweek business.

Greenstein gave the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce a glimpse of the service at its monthly board meeting last week.

But to Greenstein, there’s more than an economic message.

He incorporated the system into the BlueGo kiosks to contribute to the environment.

“I think giving back is vital,” he said, referring to the mission of BlueGo.

The primary function of the kiosks is to allow transit users to access schedules and request public transit rides on BlueGo vehicles.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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