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Three million truckers in America will now have wireless Internet access at 1,000 Truck Stops. In a press release earlier this week, IBM and Rocksteady Networks announced that the companies will provide the infrastructure for Columbia Advanced Wireless (CAW) to enable broadband wireless Internet access at truck stops throughout the country.The Rocksteady software will run on IBM’s Intel-based servers running Linux. CAW said they chose IBM and Linux because they required virtually 100% uptime, and since they don’t maintain an IT staff at the truck stops.

According to studies by CAW, more than 25 percent of the three million truck drivers in the U.S. carry laptops. The benefits of Internet access to truck drivers are numerous including the ability for drivers to quickly locate and negotiate loads, to transact banking, to maintain contact with their business partners and employers, and to track weather and road conditions.

CAW will deploy the WiFi hotspots at selected truck stops and offer prepaid access cards that act like prepaid calling cards. When accessing the Wireless Local Area Networks at the truck stop, drivers will be prompted to enter an account number from the prepaid access cards. For security and optimum performance, CAW will deploy the Rocksteady NSA Network Sharing Application. Rocksteady NSA selectively determines whether the truck driver can enter the network and dynamically manages their Internet session based on their credentials. Additional capabilities, such as dynamic bandwidth shaping and metering, will help provide a high level of network performance by allocating and prioritizing bandwidth usage in real time on a user-by-user basis.

One step closer to WiFi everywhere! Today at PC Forum we heard from Larry Brilliant at Cometa about plans to roll out 20,000 hotspots at McDonald’s and other retail locations.