Downtown Isla Vista has just become the area’s newest surfing spot, thanks to the recent addition of wireless Internet hot spots at many of the businesses around the Embarcadero loop.

Incipient Technologies, a local wireless Internet service provider located at 900 Embarcadero del Mar, completed installation of a new Wi-Fi network in downtown I.V. on April 4. Owners of laptop computers or other wireless Internet-capable devices can access the network — which makes it possible to use the Internet without plugging into to a landline — from any of several locations in Isla Vista. The coverage area includes most of the coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses located along Pardall Road, Anisq’ Oyo’ Park and People’s Park, and many other establishments located along the Embarcadero loop.

Steve LeBoeuf, of Incipient Technologies, said his company is offering the Wi-Fi access through a partnership with Firetide, Inc., a wireless network developer based in Los Gatos, Calif. LeBoeuf said the service is being offered for free during its initial trial period, but he said Incipient will be reassessing the Wi-Fi network’s value after a certain amount of time.

“Incipient Technologies absorbed all costs of installation and maintenance [of the network],” he said. “The more people that use it, the more likely it will stay free,” LeBoeuf said.

LeBoeuf said the cost of setting up the Wi-Fi network was “considerable,” but he did not release the exact dollar amount for the installation.

As a UCSB graduate, LeBoeuf said one of his goals in creating the free Wi-Fi network was to help improve downtown I.V. for students and other locals who frequent the area.

“I went to UCSB and lived in Isla Vista,” LeBoeuf said. “I liked the community and wanted to give something for the community.”

Dan Soucek, general manager of Woodstock’s Pizza, said he was eager to have Incipient install a wireless Internet connection so the restaurant could provide customers with a convenience not offered at most pizza places.

“We decided to add this as an extra,” Soucek said. “Businesspeople come in all the time with their laptops, and now they can work and eat at the same time.”

Laptops must be Wi-Fi enabled to use the free wireless Internet, but LeBoeuf said wireless Internet cards may be purchased for as little as $25 at local retailers such as the UCSB Bookstore or CompUSA.

Barbara Cardillo, vice president of marketing at Firetide, said the differences between mobile wireless Internet and traditional Internet are similar to those between cellular phone networks and regular landline telephones.

“The same thing that was done for cell phones, we are now doing for wireless access,” Cardillo said. “The main difference is that our product can be installed anywhere and for less money.”

Cardillo said a Wi-Fi mesh network is also more environmentally friendly than cable-based networks, which must be placed in the ground or in the walls of buildings.

“All you need is regular power, no special wires,” Cardillo said. “No digging, no trenching.”