Internet

The Hajj: Now With Free Internet Access!

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mecca

Can't quite come up with the verse of the Koran you need for an argument? Wondering about the Prophet's views on proper attire for the hajj? Want to send mom a snap of you fulfilling your once-in-a-lifetime religious obligation?

For the next couple of weeks in Mecca, pilgrims coming for the hajj will be able to Wikipedia answers to those questions and send email in a flash thanks to a temporary Wi-Fi mesh network covering much of the holy city.

Hajjis, as the pilgrims are called, come to the city in Saudi Arabia from around the world for several days of religious rituals. More than 2 million gather each year. A network of about 70 meshed routers from Tropos Networks has been set up to provide free Internet connectivity, according to Denise Barton, director of marketing at Tropos. Users only have to register before using it. Barton believes it is the first public Wi-Fi network set up for the Hajj.

How awesome is the modern world that those first three sentences appear next to each other? To review: Practitioners of an ancient religion visit a chunk of black stone (possibly a meteorite) more ancient even than their own faith. After a few times around the old Kaaba, they can retire and check their email. Outstanding.

Via Julian Sanchez