The wireless French Connection

Social eatery 'The French Connection' on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai has paired up with Venture Technologies Middle East (VTME) to become one of the first wireless hotspots in the UAE for a wireless working lunch.

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By  Paul Barthram Published  July 1, 2003

Social eatery 'The French Connection' on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai has paired up with Venture Technologies Middle East (VTME) to become one of the first wireless hotspots in the UAE for a wireless working lunch.

Implementing a completely wireless network that uses access points from Cisco Systems, along with ThinkPad notebooks from IBM using Intel Centrino mobile technology, the new set up allows patrons complete freedom to work or browse the web, with patrons now able to just walk in, switch on their wireless-enabled notebook, log in and connect to the Internet.

“We regularly have our customers come in, and want a connection. They are often students and business people, so to be able to connect while they dine is important to them,” explained Farida Bahar, manager of French Connection.

“Often people having meetings here, so being able to access the Internet is very useful for them,” Bahar added.

The IEEE 802.11b wireless network, based on Cisco Aironet 1100 Series wireless access devices, covers the entire restaurant, both upstairs and downstairs. Customers visiting French Connection have the option available to use one of the available state-of-the-art IBM ThinkPad notebooks, or borrow wireless network cards for their laptops if they lack a wireless connection.
Bahar said this allowed for both customer and staff to feel at ease in the surroundings. “Our job at the restaurant is to make our patrons feel at home, and give them good food, not worry about technology.”

VTME has designed this wireless system with the end-user in mind. Patrons with the right hardware simply enter the password and they are connected – sharing information with colleagues over a working lunch, or chatting to friends in other parts of the world.

“Our system design ensures two things; security and ease-of-use. We have combined the encryption and security technology built into the Cisco Aironet wireless systems with the Single Digits Business Class HotSpot software, allowing us to give the French Connection the assurance that the network is safe, while allowing customers access in a way that is really simple for them,” explained Xavier Moreau, sales manager at Venture Technologies Middle East, the designer and implementer of the system.

“Wireless hotspots are going to start appearing in more and more places, from hotels and airports to restaurants and colleges,” commented Sameh Farid, Manager of IBM PC Division - Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan. “Being able to connect effortlessly when on the move is very convenient and is great for improving your personal productivity. We design our ThinkPads to be reliable and great to work on when on the road, but we are also putting in security and wireless features as a standard to make sure our users can operate in the new ‘connected anywhere’ world.”

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