Parked alongside his onion fields, Bob Hale can prop open a laptop and read his e-mail or, with just a keystroke, check the moisture of his crops.
As the jack rabbits run by, he can watch CNN online, play a video game or turn his irrigation sprinklers on and off, all from the air conditioned comfort of his truck.
While cities around the country are battling over plans to offer free or cheap Internet access, this lonely terrain is served by what is billed as the world's largest hotspot, a wireless cloud that stretches over 700 square miles of landscape so dry and desolate it could have been lifted from a cowboy tune.
Similar wireless projects have been stymied in major metropolitan areas by telephone and cable TV companies, which have poured money into legislative bills aimed at discouraging such competition. In Philadelphia, for instance, plans to blanket the entire city with Wi- Fi fueled a ...