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Mapping Kitsap’s Wi-Fi

Charting the area’s hotbeds for Internet hookup.

Chiropractor and acupuncture therapist Matthew Lyon came from working on the stars in Los Angeles to a fledgling practice in the Pacific Northwest, seeking the respite of the mountains and woods.

For quite some time, that natural respite came at the cost of chic and accessible new age technology, he said, like the plethora of cafés and coffee shops along strips in L.A., offering wireless Internet for its laptop-carrying customers.

When Lyon first moved here, almost five years ago, living in Tacoma and working in Silverdale, Wi-Fi seemed like something he’d left behind in the big city.

But a few years later, while killing time between patients one day, he found The Global Bean coffee shop on Myhre Road, a year-old Silverdale business with its chic, upscale feel and free wireless Internet. He’s since become a regular customer, coming in two to three times a week.

But he admits he probably wouldn’t keep coming back if it wasn’t for the wireless Internet.

“It’s funny, coffee shops — especially for people in non-traditional professions — they’ve become a sort of pseudo-offices,” Lyon said.

In between patients, Lyon is an aspiring health and natural medicine author, working on his first book. With that, in addition to his day job, he’s constantly working, researching, writing on his blog and consequently, needing the Internet. Thus, with its free Wi-Fi, The Bean has become somewhat of an office for Lyon.

He says he spends time at The Bean whenever there’s a few hours between appointments with patients in his schedule or to have his lunch with green tea while researching, surfing and writing on his MacBook laptop.

Another 20-something Wi-Fier, Meredith Fortner — on vacation from school in Texas, working on a research paper on her laptop at Cafe Andante on Bainbridge Island — said she enjoys having the plugged-in amenities of iChat, e-mail and streaming music, along with a steaming latte, while she works and surfs.

Wireless Internet, she noted, seems like it’s almost become a requisite for coffee shops anymore.

That sentiment coming from a college-aged woman with a laptop covered in stickers is striking and sort of a sign of the times, given that Wi-Fi was virtually an unknown entity less than a decade ago.

Now, it is everywhere.

Practically any laptop built in the past decade is likely to be Wi-Fi capable, while coffee shops and libraries, businesses and homes alike, even entire cities, have become wireless Internet hubs.

What’s more is most of them are free to use, for now.

Here in Kitsap, the county headquarters are wireless for visitors and staff. As are the Port Orchard and Bremerton marinas.

The campuses of the county’s largest hospital, Harrison Medical Center, the branches of Kitsap Regional Library and a 12-block core in downtown Bremerton, from Sixth Street to the shipyard, all provide free wireless Internet to users, in addition to many other places, cafes and coffee shops, book stores and bagel shops, hangouts and hotels, all throughout the county.

For more on the history, logistics and uses of Wi-Fi visit the Wi-Fi Alliance at www.wi-fi.org.

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