rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 05/13/2005
Eat, Drink, Relax and Surf for Free!
by Gregory C. Johnson

Sitting here is the relaxed atmosphere of the Olympic, one of Rockford's fine local eateries; I thought it would be the perfect time to start on this article.  But first I must decide if I want a Bud, a Miller or a Diet Pepsi. 

So how can I sit here and access  With a wireless laptop and access to a wireless Internet access point, I can sit back and surf the Net.  Several Rockford bars and restaurants  have jumped into the wireless networking world and now offer free Internet access to their customers. 


So where are these places?  That is what I decided to find out.  With the help of Dave Lickteig of Amarach Net Solutions, I have compiled a list of establishments that we found have Internet access available for their customers.  With the laptop strapped across my shoulder and Dave in tow we headed out on our quest.


We decided to run two speed tests at each location.  The tests were run using and c| broadband speed tests.



The Results:


Panera Bread

609 S Perryville Road


Speed Test:  Toast: 1,278kb   c|net: 1198kb

Signal strength:  Excellent

SSID:  panera


Panera offers a single sheet instruction guide to surfing their network.  They have a sign on the door showing they offer free wireless Internet. 



Mary's Market

7200 Harrison Ave (Cherryvale Mall)


Speed Test:  Toast: 1,171kb   c|net:  1306kb

Signal Strength:  Low/Very Low

SSID:  market


Though the signal strength showed as low, the connection was solid with no drop out and great speed.



Sam's Ristorante & Pizzaria

6075 E Riverside Blvd


Speed Test:  Toast: 601kb     c|net:  622kb

Signal Strength:  Excellent

SSID:  sams 


One of the two places we found where you can eat great pizza, chug good beer and surf the Net.



Mary's Market

2636 McFarland Road  (Springcreek & Perryville)


Speed Test:  Toast:  346kb    c|net:  342kb

Signal Strength:  Very Good

SSID:  market



Mary's Market

1656 N Alpine Road (Edgebrook Center)


Speed Test:  Toast:  371kb    c|net:  348kb

Signal Strength:  Good

SSID:  market




124 N Main St


Speed Test:  Toast:  306kb    c|net:  267kb

Signal Strength:  Very Good

SSID:  ether8


Once you set up your wireless connection at Octane, you have to submit your email address to Ether8 before you can access the Net.  Don't forget to try some of the exotic soda combinations.  Love the Black & Blue.




6593 Lexus Drive (E State)


Speed Test:  Toast:  360kb    c|net:  340kb

Signal Strength:  Low

SSID:  BeefARoo


Again even though the signal strength showed low, we didnt experience any drop off from the network.  There is a sign on he door stating there is free Internet access.



The Olympic

2327 N Main St


Speed Test:  Toast:  336kb    c|net:  317kb

Signal Strength:  Very Good

SSID:  linksys


This is the other location for great pizza, good beer and free surfing.  And don't forget the Friday Night Fish Fry.



Big Al's Bar at Giovannis

610 N Bell School Road


Speed Test:  Toast:  201kb    c|net:  179kb

Signal Strength:  Very Good

SSID:  giomobile




5610 Wansford Way (Harrison Ave)


Speed Test:  Toast:  114kb    c|net:  110kb

Signal Strength:  Very Good

SSID:  culvers


Instructions for using the Culvers network are on every table in the flipbook.  The instructions are easy to use.



236 N Phelps  (E State)


Speed Test:  Toast: no connection      c|net: no connection

Signal Strength:  Excellent

SSID:  culvers


I stopped here twice. Both times I was able to connect to their network but not the Internet.



Two other places that are listed on an Internet Wireless site directory are Swilligan's and Kryptonite.  We didn't get to either of these places to test their connections.  They are associated with Ether8, so we can guess that their connection speeds are close to those at Octane.


There are three locations that have wireless Internet access, but they require a fee.


Barnes & Noble

6685 East State St


Barnes & Noble offers their access through SBC Freedom link.  You have your choice of plans.  The cheapest is a 2-hour block of time for $3.95.  They also offer a basic plan for $19.95 per month and a premium plan for $39.95 per month.  With the monthly plan you can use any SBC Freedom link network connections.




199 Deane Dr



Monthly access for $29.99

Day Pass = 9.99

Pay as you go = $6 per hour or .10 per minute

With the monthly plan you can use any TMobile network access points.




6239 East State St.



Monthly access for $29.99

Day Pass = 9.99

Pay as you go = $6 per hour or .10 per minute

Get a free day pass for signing up.  Can use any Tmobile access points.



Test speeds always vary depending on a number of factors.  The speeds listed are just what we experienced at the time.  The results are in no way set in stone.


If I have missed any locations, please let me know so that i can add them to our list.  I have to admit, it is nice to be able to go to a nice establishment and be able to work on the Net.  And I will admit I have taken advantage of a few of these places to have business meetings in a more pleasant atmosphere than my workplace.  And now it's time for another beer& err& Diet Pepsi.

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