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Time Warner Cable installs WiFi at Natural History Museum

The dinosaurs are getting WiFi.

Time Warner Cable has hooked up the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County with wireless Internet access. The WiFi, available starting Thursday, is free to Time Warner Cable subscribers while nonsubscribers will receive two hours of complimentary access.

Installing WiFi into the 100-year-old building was no small task, according to Mike Roudi, Time Warner Cable's senior vice president of corporate development. The walls are thick, and the museum has many small rooms.

"You can't just punch holes through it," Roudi said. "It took us probably 2 1/2 months to figure out where to put the access points."

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A total of 44 random access points were installed, which is twice as many as a building the size of the museum would normally require. So the installations weren't obvious, Time Warner Cable technicians hand-painted each one to match the color of the ceilings of the various rooms the access points are installed in.

"It took six weeks to actually hang them," Roudi said.

The museum didn't install the WiFi just so its patrons could spend their visits looking down at their devices instead of at the exhibits. 

"It's an opportunity for us to provide content that enhances their experience at the museum," said Dr. Jane Pisano, the museum's president and director. She added that "Kids can do online scavenger hunts, teachers can look at online lesson plans and student activities, and families can pass around their phones and tablets as they explore the museum, watching videos of our scientists, historians, and garden experts.”

The WiFi is also available on the museum's grounds, including the courtyard and nature trail.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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