When you're lying on a beach in Mauritius and suddenly have the urge to surf the Web that is, not the waves you're in luck. The small (pop: 1.2 million) tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean was racing to become the first country in the world with complete wireless Internet coverage, but Macedonia laid claim to that title a few months ago.
Mauritian officials say that Macedonia's wi-fi technology, which creates a number of hot-spot "clouds" to cover the country, could lead to connections dropping out. [an error occurred while processing this directive] Mauritius is using the newer and fast-growing WiMax standard, which will create a single "hot zone" across the entire island. Dubai-based company African Digital Bridges (ADB) says its network services 40% of the island and 60% of the population, and that by early next year, Mauritius should be completely wi-fi. From that time, visitors will be able to borrow wireless modems and buy prepaid cards for their laptops at the main tourist hotels, allowing them to connect to the local network, whether they're out by the pool, at the bar or on the beach.
And you can do more than just check your e-mail. Rizwan Rahim, head of ADB Networks which trades in Mauritius as Network Plus says the company is creating a website to help visitors get the most out of their island stay. Tourists with the right Global Positioning System software in their computers will be able to link up with Network Plus as they explore the island, locating the nearest restaurant or bar. ADB decided upon Mauritius because its government has liberalized the technology sector and offered incentives to high-tech companies to set up there, and because the island's size allows for a quick rollout. "We want to introduce this new concept of mobility that we call Nomadism," says Rahim, "being able to move around with the Web wherever you go."
Tourism authorities hope the wireless network will convince business travelers to stay for a few extra days of holiday. But beware, vacationers it will also mean that you're just a double-click away from the office. www.networkplus.mu