Rather than stare at a computer all day watching stocks rise and fall, Milt Gregory’s comrade wanted to do the same from a boat.
Since 2004, Gregory — an electrical engineer with a computer science background — has been working to offer a connection to the Internet aboard ferries, cargo ships and even sailboats that would allow commuters and water enthusiasts to do just that: work from the water.
Gregory, president of Cupertino-based Sunrise Wireless, said his company plans to wire the water that is the San Francisco Bay starting this month.
“It’s a pretty big challenge,” Gregory said. “When you’re traveling 40 mph and with varied wind conditions across the water, trying to maintain a signal is no small feat.”
The wireless coverage, called SFOWetNet, will stretch from the Golden Gate Bridge east to Angel Island and the Bay Bridge north to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
Gregory said ferries and private vessels will start connecting to the network this month. A similar connection for commercial vessels was launched in December.
In the future, Gregory said the company would look to expand coverage south of the Bay Bridge or north to Vallejo.
Gregory would not release the names of the ferries using the network because of a legal agreement. He did say they were public entities.
Representatives from the Water Emergency Transit Authority said some of the organization’s boats were being tested with wireless networks, but did not know if it was related to Sunrise Wireless’ plans.
Calls to Golden Gate Ferry were not immediately returned.
Though water poses a problem for electronic equipment and radio signals, the company successfully launched a similar project in Seattle.
Wireless on water
Engineers are working to bring the Internet to boaters on the Bay:
What: SFOWetNet, by Sunrise Wireless
Where: Golden Gate Bridge to Angel Island, Bay Bridge to Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
When: Private or pleasure vessels this month, commercial vessels launched in December
Why: Offer wireless connectivity during commute on ferries
How much: To be determined
Source: Sunrise Wireless