NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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Constant access to internet and intranet in a 200 access point network.
The south-western Finland wireless net is among Europe's fastest and widest

On an initiative taken by the Turku Science Park, universities, research institutes and several municipalities in the area of south-western Finland have been progressive in combining their own wireless networks with some 200 access points. This way the city of Turku, the town of Naantali and little by little other municipalities, institutions, enterprises and universities, their employees and students while widely on the move have access through their portable computers to the Internet and so also to their own intranets. The net is free of charge for those not-for-profit organisations users who have joined it. For companies the cost of such an extremely fast wireless connection is only 80 Euro a month.

While awaiting the start of a meeting in the negotiations room of Turku Biolaakso, Markku Jalkanen (right), managing director of Faron Pharmaceuticals and Jaakko Kuosmanen, managing director of ICT Turku continue working as if they were in their own offices using the fast wireless SparkNet.
High resolution image
Photo: Laura Hohteri
Turku Science Park and MP-Masterplanet were the experts involved in the implementation of this wireless regional net, known as SparkNet, and one of Europe's widest public WLAN nets identifying no less than some 50,000 users. Those who set up SparkNet are keen to do roaming agreements with other regional networks. This way the user's own intranet and the Internet would be easily available to present and potential parties even in remote locations.

SparkNet in the Turku region renders its users considerably more efficient at work wherever they move in the area covered by SparkNet. The net works among other places in the town halls of Turku and Naantali and is available to members of the municipal boards during meetings. Moreover, on the premises of the Turku Area Development Centre representatives of the municipalities can deal with work matters just as they can at their own desks. Entrepreneurs can also work in the SparkNet area in a modern way without any physical working space of their own. Anyone making a brief visit to the SparkNet area can subscribe to SparkNet for a short period of time.

SparkNet automatically equips the moving user's computer with a fast WLAN connection instead of the slow GPRS connection. For those living in nearby areas SparkNet also replaces the fixed ADSL connection. Security is taken care of by the firewalls of the respective organisations. SparkNet uses extremely fast 802.11g technology, which gives the access points a 54Mbit connection.

The technical realisation of this unique network was accomplished by MP-MasterPlanet, mostly with the Datacentre of the University of Turku. The network was set up on a small budget in such a way that any party wishing to join made minor additions to their own wireless intranet. The shared part of SparkNet is administrated by MP-MasterPlanet, which also rents out SparkNet connections to companies.

The biomedical company Faron Pharmaceuticals specialises in the international commercialisation of medical inventions by networking. According to managing director Markku Jalkanen SparkNet is just as significant an innovation as the shift in its time to mobile phones. "SparkNet is an example to show the world, an example of the efficiency of Finnish mobile technology. For me the net is where I work. It sets me free to go where I like and do my work independently in the area covered by each support station. I have constant access to my work files and computer connections to my clients, and I have a very fast connection to Internet. If only SparkNet were available in airports."


ICT Turku Oy / Turku Science Park
Jaakko Kuosmanen, Dir. Man.
Tel. +358 400 536 086
MP-MasterPlanet Oy
Matti Kiviö, Dir. Man.
Tel. +358 40 582 1390
Faron Pharmaceuticals
Markku Jalkanen, Dir. Man.
Tel. +358 40 520 6124

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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