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Ricochet May Go Away; Metricom Files Chapter 11 115

friday2k writes: "As seen on Metricom finally files for chapter 11. This is too sad. Anyone know of good alternatives out there?" Nooooo! Don't do this to me! The story says, "the company intends to keep the wireless Internet service up and running for the time being," so perhaps all is not lost. Even though it's a little pricey at ~$70/month, and only works in a few cities, Metricom's Ricochet is absolutely the best wireless Internet service I've ever used. Their coverage maps have been accurate and they have always treated Linux users decently (unlike this sorry bunch). I hope a decent company buys Metricom, figures out a way to make money with the system, and bring it to the rest of the U.S., even the rest of the world. Meanwhile, all I can do is plaintively echo friday2k's question: Anyone know of good alternatives out there? (Even 19.2KBPS would be okay with me if the service is Linux-friendly and has good nationwide coverage.)
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Ricochet May Go Away; Metricom Files Chapter 11

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is my only "high speed" (i.e., greater than 9600 bps) access in Plano, TX ("telecom city USA"). AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!
  • If they'd do that,cool. But they won't. And Verizon's CDPD coverage maps are sort of... errr.. innacurate, and I never got even close to the promised 19.2 K even in the (few) areas where the service actually worked. I have a Novatel Merlin card, and when I called Verizon about my service problems they told me it was the problem, that I should blow $400+ on one from Sierra, that the network was fine. Then I called Novatel and I'm sure you know what *they* said. :)

    I finally gave up on both Novatel and Verizon.

    I guess I'll try Sprint PCS next. Supposedly the Kyocera phones they offer will handle straight AT commands through the serial port, so they ought to work with Linux fairly easily.

    - Robin
  • They don't do that anymore. They also don't allow point to point connections over their network for devices sold later than last december.
  • Because when the service goes down, you can still use them to create a decent wireless network in "node relay" mode.

    Tie a bunch of them together over a wide range, and you can use them to leapfrog all the way back to your own bandwidth.

    For me, this will work just fine. I live a block away from my office, where I have good bandwidth, and I won't have much difficulty getting the local coffeeshops to let me set up a wireless modem or two to act as node relays back to the home base...

    Yeah, though. It is a shame Ricochet is going belly-up. They provided a really, really good service. I can't work out how they managed to lose out - their service rocks, and I'm perfectly happy paying $79.95 a month for it ... never seen an unhappy customer, including the 7 people I signed up for their service myself.

    Better than I can say for the average ISP, I'd imagine...
  • You know, you could always use a modem like the rest of us. It's not like downloading pirated music and porn videos is a necessity.
  • Ahhh... I thought he Ricochet incidents were also involved with Niven's setup. I should have read more carefully. Thanks for the clarification!
  • After posting an article on how they got Niven up and running with Ricochet (Article here [] ) now they'll have to find another solution.

    Bandwidth wants to be free! Really, it does. :)

  • I wonder how pricey those Zytrax devices are- they look to be a right gem for anything needing wireless lan connectivity.
  • Verizon's CDPD coverage maps are sort of... errr.. innacurate, and I never got even close to the promised 19.2 K even in the (few) areas where the service actually worked. I have a Novatel Merlin card

    I had Ricochet service in DC, but my application was fairly mobile (in a vehicle), and the cell hand-off always seemed to fail. In downtown San Francisco, coverage was dense enough that this was less of a problem, but in suburban DC I would have to re-connect every minute or so while driving.

    I went to Verizon CDPD with the Sierra Aircard 300. It's firmware looks like a NIC to the PC, so the connection is more reconnects automagically so you don't have to.

    I found CDPD coverage to be much better than Ricochet, and did though CDPD was a little bit slower, I prefered CDPD...especially on the Amtrak going from DC to New York.

    That said, I was hoping that the new high-speed Ricochet would come to DC. The DC suburbs are home to many Net-head early adopters (think MAE East, AOL, etc.)
  • I've been following Metricom since the first version of Ricochet was live here in DC, and always thought they were cool. R2, at 128 kbps even when traveling up to 70 mph, beats the pants off of anything out there. Yet I didn't invest. Having been burned by Iridium, I was frightened by their debt. Staying away, I probably saved a couple of grand.

    Even so, it's painful to see it finally happening. I believe in Metricom, and think that someone else will buy them out of bankruptcy, a la Iridium. That'll be the company to invest in.

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

    ...humming Another One Bites the Dust...
  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @02:13PM (#112644)
    I've never tried to use Verizon's wireless stuff, but from the looks of the link, they give you the hardware and the Windows or Mac drivers. That's a bit more than just "what's your nameserver?"
  • TRhe modems are cool type in the serial number of another modem instead of the phone number/id and you connect tot he other modem without using their service. At Michigan State there was a couple of guys that got the modems before metrocom demanded them back if you didnt use the service.

    I want the hardware... It's cool. and too bad they are dying.. they could have done well if they would have expanded past california or the "select few".. the service never was available for 98% of the geek population.
  • That's quite a statement about Linux users being more technical. I'm glad you think so because as I churn through newsgroups I don't find anything to back that up. The Linux user population is not growing larger and larger, they got an influx of attention because Linux companies had IPOs. Now no one gives a shit. The Mac using populous is larger than that of Linux users and we still have problems finding companies that support anything even related to Apple products. Linus is NOT a profit making market either, they're people that don't believe in software they can't view the source code to.
  • actually, I've seen mine exceed 500kbps on multiple occasions...

    the novatel card does seem to perform noticably better than the sierra card on the systems under windows, but still only gets about 300kbps on those systems. Under macos9 on a powerbook g4, I usually get 400-500kbps.
  • I have a buddy in Plano, and he couldnt get a high speed line, so he went with Starband, as mentioned [] in an earlier Slashdot article. I havent used it, but hes happy.
  • Why? What makes this unusual? Yeah, they aren't making money, because they have extensive costs of doing the build-out. It's investment to build the network, right?
  • Ricochet was FAR from a "wireless networking" access technology. Ricochet was more like "wireless dialup that happens to be about as fast as ISDN, maybe a bit faster if you're lucky." Sure, they used 802.11 in their distribution network but it was 900mhz serial for the "last mile."

    Pretty much the only way to cost-effectively enter a market with wireless *BROADBAND* internet access is by being a small company with knowledge of the economic climate and physical characteristics of a region. Trying to develop a business plan that encompasses offering wireless service on the rolling, treeless hills of Southern California and also the dense brush of New England is virtually impossible.

    If you want information about the ISPs who are offering wireless broadband service using 802.11 and other technologies (personally, I think wireless ATM would make a lot more sense than wireless Ethernet, but that's a topic for another day), go to where the WISPs talk about it themselves... ISP Planet's isp-wireless mailing list (and associated archives) at

    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • Same thing with my Samsung SCH-3500 - acts like a plain 14.4 modem. I've had great luck with coverage in Pittsburgh and NY.

    From the Sprint Wireless Web Connection FAQ []:

    How does my Sprint PCS Phone differ from a standard external modem?
    Aside from the obvious difference that it's wireless, the biggest difference between your Sprint PCS Phone and an ordinary modem is that there's no modem in your Sprint PCS Phone, PC, or laptop - the modem actually resides within the Sprint PCS Nationwide Network. However, to your computer, your phone looks the same as an ordinary 14400 bps external serial modem. To you, the important difference is that your connection is wireless.

    Altough I never had much luck with Sprint's (optional) compression/proxy software.
  • Nope.

    Unlimited Omnkisky service is as cheap as $29/month. []

    I use it with my Visor, and it's a little slow but still usable.
  • Just called VoiceStream's techsupport (1-800-256-9991). DataStream is 9.6, not 19.2 - which is worse than the 14.4 offered by Sprint or Verizon.
  • It's already $44 Dollars a month in San Diego and has been for several weeks. Nex
  • > Besides Ricochet, the only other option is satellite,

    ... well, no, there's also Sprint Broadband [], which is a fixed wireless antenna with 1.5 Mbps throughput for almost half the price ($40/month) of Ricochet. I've been quite happy with it -- feel free to read other reviews on DSLReports [].
  • What part of plano? I got ADSL service here 1.54m/768k with no major problems. I'll agree the phone lines have MUCH to be desired, but dsl and isdn both work fine. I'm just northwest of Spring Creek and Custer.

  • I use a standard CDPD cellular modem (blazing 19.2 connection). I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this being 'non-linux friendly'. I use a novatel Merlin pcmcia card modem, and linux (and freebsd, and macos, and windows...) all just pick it up as a standard serial device. Set it to dial as the outgoing number, and the modem connects and acts as a normal modem from then on. Yes, the configuration software is windows only (maybe mac, too?), but you only need to do it once, and we all know that you have some Windows machines in there.
  • > Are we talking about the same wwc that routes all your packets to
    > florida and back -- even if you are on the west coast?


    1 90 ms 331 ms 100 ms []
    2 90 ms 141 ms 80 ms
    3 170 ms 171 ms 70 ms
    4 100 ms 80 ms 70 ms
    5 90 ms 90 ms 151 ms POS11-0-0.GW2.SFO4.ALTER.NET []
    6 120 ms 170 ms 201 ms 129.ATM3-0.XR1.SFO4.ALTER.NET []
    7 161 ms 140 ms 160 ms []
    8 91 ms 180 ms 100 ms []
    9 160 ms 130 ms 170 ms POS6-0.BR6.SAC1.ALTER.NET []
    10 150 ms 141 ms 110 ms
    11 160 ms 170 ms 141 ms []
    12 541 ms 250 ms 210 ms []
    13 280 ms 851 ms 1172 ms []
    14 240 ms 791 ms 731 ms []
  • I tried it 'way 'way back in '97 and if all you wanted to do was email and websurf, it was perfect. However, if you tried to push it beyond its "mission profile" it failed pretty spectacularly. I remember waiting 1 hour for a remote x-term window to pop up on my laptop. I returned the modem soon after that.

    They may have fixed some of those problems since then, I don't know.

    The modems themselves were somewhat inconvenient, although I think I've seen pcmcia form factor cards at Fry's - they should've had those from the start - it would've made it a lot easier to carry around.

    As I recall, the ricochet modems can operate point-to-point, so it would be possible to take a few of these things and create some sort of private net with it. How useful that would be, I can't say. Especially since wireless ethernet came out recently.
  • Where they have coverage (and I echo Roblimo's statement on accurate maps) the service is great.

    They never stretched far enough south of Atlanta for me to consider putting our techs onto the system.

    $70 a month for mobile isdn speeds was VERY reasonable.
  • I talked with one of the programmers of the modem some time back. (We both used to go to a periodic social event.)

    According to him there's a single configuration bit in the modems (at least the ones available several years ago) that switches it between being a portable leaf node and a base station. By flipping a user could donate bandwidth from his high-speed connection to his neighborhood. (Of course he'd have to run it through ipmasq on his firewall...)

    Don't know the details. Perhaps somebody from the company could verify and expand, or deny, this story.
  • by joq ( 63625 )
    I hope a decent company buys Metricom, figures out a way to make money with the system, and bring it to the rest of the U.S., even the rest of the world.

    Define "a decent company" nowadays companies are just trying to stay afloat. What does using Linux have anything to do with an ISP anyhow? I have FreeBSD running over Earthlink, Level3, and two other ISP's and have never had a problem using any ISP. I've even set my brother up over AOL so he could tinker with Linux.

    There are plenty of other compsnies to choose from regarding Internet services, and anyone who counts on an Internet related company nowadays is a fool considering dozens go kaboom on a daily basis.
  • by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @02:01PM (#112663)
    Well... yes. I am replying to this on my Ricochet right now. My services is actually through WorldCOM so I don't know what is going to happen.

    Not many people know this but the Ricochet can actually handle 256k. I have a patched Linux 2.4.5 kernel and run it over USB (serial can't handle > 128k) and I get 240 throughput often.

    It would be a REAL shame if this goes away.

    All this dotcom stuff is really going to set back technology. The stupid VC have invested in dump companies (Eazel) and inflated the economy and now smart/cool companies have to pay the price (Ricochet).

  • BroadBand2Wireless []which released Airora [] in the Boston market (a product similar to riccochet) which was covered in a earlier slashdot article [] has also gone out of buisiness. Verify by calling 1-866-AIRORA1. So it looks like most of the non incumbent players are out of the buisness.

    Quite sad given the enthusiasm of the slashdot crowd in the earlier referenced article.

    Jeffrey Katz (curious) has his comments on the service here. []

  • Earthlink will give you tech support if you are running Mac OS (I get my Ricochet from them). My Ricochet modem just connects via USB and appears to both Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X as a plain old USB modem, which you connect to with PPP. It took me a few minutes to use the Ricochet installer on Mac OS 9.1 (which doesn't actually install anything, just configures things) and then copy the settings to my Mac OS X box, but I could have set both up without the installer if necessary in a few minutes, because both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X include the modem script for Ricochet. I'm typing this on Mac OS X through Ricochet right now.

    I pay $70 per month for unlimited access, and I connect at 480kbs here in North Hollywood. I haven't tried it anywhere else yet, but I hear the LA network is the newest (only came up last January or February) so I was told to expect to be faster here than elsewhere for the time being. 480kbs is faster than my last DSL was. It is a great, great service. I also had a phone briefly that had "Wireless Web" and it was a piece of shit. Besides the fact that the phone couldn't find the network all the time, the content and UI was garbage. It's not worth paying for, which is why most people don't pay for it. Ricochet works great, though ... I encourage anyone who is on the fence with Ricochet to dive in ... the water is fine. People see it and they don't believe it, wherever I go. One guy is like, "I pay $25/month for 50kbs dial-up at home, and you're telling me you pay $70 and you're in a coffee shop at 480kbs?" The modem was only $50, too.
  • Regular broadband wireless CAN be used while moving if you stay in the same zone area..

    I would LOVE to find investors to do a Ricochet replacement only at speeds of about 1Mbps and better.. Wouldnt take much to start up.. Problem is finding an investor who wants his capital to go to startups in several cities at once...

    I had a small wireless station myself where a few friends and I shared a T1 line.. it was very nice and very fast.. and the startup wasnt that much.. its the tower fees that will kill you :(

    Tower owners want wireless broadband to pay as much as cellular customers.. which means up to $25k/month in high population areas... Tower ownership eats profits.

    that being said.. Ricochet came out too soon with too low bandwidth for too much money. I can offer 1Mbps speeds for the same amount with simple equipment thats very reliable and works with Windows/Mac/Linux/BSD/Solaris. :)
  • Actually YES.. because if the towers were cheaper I would have done it myself already...
    see what i posted before "Tower owners want wireless broadband to pay as much as cellular customers.. which means up to $25k/month in high population areas... Tower ownership eats profits"

    Please READ then post. so you wont look quite so idiotic.
  • With what I have run.. as long as i stay within the cell radius.. i could be doing 120mph and i will still have access.. leave the zone or move into another.. and youd basically have to reconnect.. just a minor glitch.. not bad for a system that allows for up to 3Mbps total usable bandwidth.. and cell radius of up to 9 miles omnidirectional.. and point to point.. maybe 15 miles :)

    so.. yes i DO know the details :) thank you.
  • I saw these [] guys at the last Colorado Liux Info Quest. They're just starting up and don't intend to deal directly with the user (like DSL, they just carry the signal) but they look like they've got some promise and they said they could push up to 4mbps my way if I felt like shelling out the cash.

    After seeing how effectively the telcos managed to do in the CLECs, I'm thinking wireless may be the only hope of a competitive solution if you want an internet provider other than @home.

  • by Ryu2 ( 89645 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @02:23PM (#112670) Homepage Journal
    Believe it or not, Ricochet isn't just useful for mobile professionals. There are STILL "pockets", even in the Silicon Valley, with still no cable or DSL service.

    An example is southern Los Altos, California, near the Foothill Expressway/CA 280 intersection. Not exactly an undeveloped area!

    My Ricochet connection I have is not a convenience that I use when I just go travel -- it is MY PRIMARY BROADBAND CONNECTION.

    Besides Ricochet, the only other option is satellite, which is just as expensive, but with horrible latency problems to boot, making them almost useless for anything interactive like telnet/ssh.

  • Unfortunately Ricochet seems like it's my only way to decent broadband in the area I live in. There's Sprint wireless but I hear it's really terrible around here. I remember playing with Ricochet modems at a friend's house in jr high. Oh, from what I understand you can frequently connect over 128k. Actually the technology can supposedly go MUCH higher, and Metricom was planning on raising the throughput again eventually. I hope a decent company snags them.
  • I have an "older" Neopoint NP1000 w/ Sprint PC$... AT commands work flawlessly. I think the "modem" is really emulated at the network, when you type AT, your phone just relays it to SprintLand where their network takes it, and responds "OK". -MoreBeer
  • Uh Oh! Here comes the Dot-com Liquidator [].

  • This is the worst news I've heard in a while. I've used Ricochet as my only Internet access at home for about two years. There's still no DSL in my neighborhood, but I decided Ricochet was fast enough (256k+) that I didn't care about DSL even if it did become available here--having truly portable fast Internet access is highly addictive. I've used my Ricochet on business trips, even once while stuck in a plane waiting to be deiced at DFW for four hours. This service is too good--surely *somebody* can make a profit from it.
  • As a matter of fact, Ricochet's raw bandwidth *is* 1Mbps. They have (had?) plans to increase the raw speed by a factor of four, without any drastic changes to their current setup. The actual net throughput on Ricochet can be far in excess of what they advertise. If my Ricochet connection only gets 128K throughput, I think something's broken--it's usually double that or better. I don't believe there is a better technology in existence, if you want real mobility. Advocates of other technologies have claimed higher throughput, but in several cases they have run into problems when they tried to put their ideas into practice. There are several Ricochet subscribers on this topic, including myself, who see these real-life speeds on a daily basis.
  • Ugh. That was horrible. I'm glad I read it though. I'm so glad the internet is no longer a cloistered group of elitists looking for reasons to kick off 'tourists'. All the AOL spewage and spam seems a small price to pay.
  • It's investment to build the network, right?

    Metricom has been around since 1985, and has been offering Ricochet service since the early 1990s. Much build-out has already been done. But they can't get enough people to sign up to make money on it.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @08:33PM (#112678) Homepage
    From Metricom's latest 10-Q filing for the period 2000-12-31 to 2001-03-31 (3-months): []
    • Service revenues $ 3,231,000
    • Cost of service revenues $42,341,000
    There is a problem here. Another round of financing won't help.
  • I've connected their Palm V modem to my Laptop running both MacOS and Linux. They also have a PCMCIA version (the Merlin - some CompUSAs have it as well as direct). Basically it connects to any serial port and does PPP (and a few other things, check out the novatelwireless site).
  • When calling about a routing problem:
    First tech support question: Do you have our proprietary Windows-only driver installed properly?

    Second tech support question: Can you run that driver through its test mode?

    Somewhere along the way they'll force it out of you. And then tell you that they don't care if its their problem -- Linux/BSD/Solaris still isn't supported, and they won't help you.
  • OK, I gotta ask: Assuming you don't just mean getting AOL to run on Wine, how did you do this? I could never get them to give me ANY information on what protocols they used, what the adresses of any of their servers were, or, in general, anything else I needed to get internet access through them on my Linux box (When I first started playing, I didn't want to pay for access twice, anf my wife did not want to give up her AOL). At this point, I am merely curious (I have DSL now), but I would like to know how you pulled this off.

  • I've had a lot of success using the AT&T CDPD network via & Novatel's CDPD PCMCIA modem ( latinum.htm#specs).

    It works just like the Ricochet - i.e., you use it via pppd scripts. I just signed up for the #@!^ing Ricochet, though, because I thought their
    latest big marketing push meant that they were
    finally starting to do alright!

    More the fool me, heh. At least you can use the CDPD whilst moving, whereas the Ricochet doesn't
    like that very much.
  • WARNING: extreme rambling and extrmely bad spelling below

    Well there are good sides and bad sides to this. As someone pointed out the good side of this is that some people may be able to get there hands on some nice wireless equipment rather cheap. and i think this is more important than having a comercial wireless provider. Having wireless is nice but if it relies on a single company that can disapear as quickly as this one there is a problem. Currently almost everyones internet access relies on a comercial provider, well actually multiple providers, with large areas being reliant on a single low level provider (a baby bell or a cable company, well actually both in many cases). If one of these companies systems goes down communication goes down, your internet goes down. and to most people this is acceptable, it will eventually come back up, because they make money off of it. but what if all of the sudden one of these low level providers decided to charge a whole lot more for internet access than they currently do, then everyone has to pay more, making the internet unavailable to everyone but the upper classes. If you think about it it is already causing division, there are many people who still cant afford the internet, who cant pay a monthly fee because they have to spend all the money they have trying to feed their family. Well what if the Internet was free? Of course you are thinking that free internet isnt possible, because someone has to pay for the lines, someone has to pay for the bandwidth, someone has to pay for the resources to keep it up. But why is this? The bandwidth is all around us. You may not be able to see it but it is there, it is free, and wireless technology lets you use it. And if everyone who wants the internet instead of having a modem had a wireless card of some kind of any kind and were in range of a few other machines with wireless, and they all knew how to route then it would be free, everyone would be able to use it, there would be no need to pay a monthly fee, because there would be no company in charge of it. Yes there are some technical problems that need to be worked out for this to work as i have described, and it may take a little bit for the speed of the type of wireless necesary to catch up with the speed of current wired conections, but if people start working on it, and setting up what they can, setting up wireless everywere they can and making it available to the public, share your internet connection, get enough people interested, and enough equipment out there and then we can work on the software, and the hardware, and teach the wireless points to talk to each other and not just through the wired network. and then it will be free, everyone will be able to communicate, everyone will have open access to information. okay enough rambling. the technology is out there, 802.11, ax25, etc.. its there, use it, and share it.
  • They're filing for Chapter 11 reorganization and protection from their creditors. This means that the network will be up and operating for quite some time while the court works out which creditors get paid how much from Metricom's remaining monies. Meanwhile, Metricom has a much larger window in which to raise the necessary capitol to operate and promote the existing network. With an extremely loyal userbase, I'm hopeful that Ricochet stays on the air. The only alternative is baby-bell owned 2.5G cellular at 35kbps and 35 cents per minute. I would be VERY surprised if Metricom doesn't lower the pricing to $45.00/mo for in-city 128k service across all georgraphic areas they currently cover. In fact, I'd look for this to happen sooner, rather than later.
  • Perhaps you miss the point.

    Ricochet is MOBILE.

    Try humping that satellite dish setup down to the park or to a client's office.

  • Well, I'm glad. I can't wait till the nodes and modems hit the surplus market. If we all bought some cheap we could set up our OWN Ricochet...
  • Since UUNet [] resells Ricochet service [], it would be super sweet if they bought them out. I know UUNet's not the most popular ISP here at slashdot because of the spam issues, but they are pretty much the best business ISP.
  • Since when was JP not pissed about something? Righteousness is his substitute for logic.


  • Never fear, Slashdot is here! [] This is exactly the kind of technical marginalia I depend on them for!


  • Well, for the last few weeks, a Ricochet rep has been signing up subscribers at Fry's Electronics (for those of you outside California and don't know Fry's, it's a geek life style here).

    I was so tempted to sign up for the service even though it's a little pricey (but when the only service I can get is IDSL at $99/mo... ah well). This would be mainly for the 505FX running Linux only, and the guy said it does not support Linux. I'm sure with some patch, I could make it work, but hey, I WANT the provider to give me this out of the box.

    The Linux user population is getting larger and larger everyday, I think service providers and manufacturers should view this segment of the market as a profit-making market. Why? because Linux users tend to cost less for them for support, as Linux users are more technical.

  • Who cares if they "support" linux? Just call them up and ask them the basics you need to connect (protocol, addresses, etc) and you should be on your way. Tell them you're running Windows if you must. What you do with the information you get is then up to you, but that's the way it's always been with non-windows/mac operating systems and ISPs. Do you call up Earthlink and ask them how to setup minicom?
  • I'm not sure *where* you were moving, since my R2 works fine at the advertised 70 mph (albeit not at its max speed, which I've clocked at 300Kbps on occasion).
  • 1) Put together a business model that makes money,

    2) Extend service to the rest of the world

    3) Offend no existing users.

    I can't see why no company has jumped on this juicy opportunity yet.

  • ...were really beginning to provide, in a unique way, the kind of additional usability, functionality, and aesthetic appeal that would make linux more attractive to a wider range of potential users. [...] what was so Godawful about Eazel.

    You'll note you mentioned nothing about finding a successful wait to make money. No money == no company. That's way they are looked upon with disdain. They just lept aboard the Linux train and hoped to find a way to pay everyone who was producing the software.


  • Jerry Pournelle has been pissed ever since he got kicked off the arpanet: []


  • In Santa Rosa, just north of San Francisco, we have wide area 802.11 from a company called BroadLink []. They partner with ISP's, just providing the ~1Mbit wireless connection.

    It isn't mobile like Ricochet, no checking email on BART or a bus, but for the DSL and Cable less I think it's a good replacement. Service is great, though at $200 its a little pricey to setup when compared to Earthlink's DSL setup charges.

  • One of the Baby Bells will snatch it up at cut rate prices...

  • With the Sierra Wireless cards you don't have to worry about silly USB or serial cables. You also don't have the bandwidth limitations.
  • Mama don't take my Ricochet
    Mama don't take my Ricochet
    Mama don't take my Ricochet away

  • Here in central MN we've got a small, independent ISP ( providing wireless access to your home or laptop via Breezecom equipment. If I remember right, they were touting a 128-512k connection speed with rates at around $40 bucks/mo. right now. The only thing that has kept me from signing on to this is initial price of the hardware, around $500, and the reports of instability within the company. I don't know how this stacks up to the Ricochet stuff, but I think it sounds like a sweet deal. Anbody else know of other ISPs using this hardware for access?
  • I accept that most IT people don't know anything about business, so I can understand the overreaction. Filing bankruptcy is not synonymous with going out of business. Just the opposite, it can be a sign of corporate health. Anyone who expects a business to be profitable in the first year of operation, does not belong in business. The company I work for has been in business for over five years and has a goal of losing only $35 - $45 million dollars this year. We are a healthy and growing company, and our stock is on the rise. Yes it is better to turn a profit, but business is a long term commitment, it can take 10 to 15 years to pay off the initial investments.
  • There will be alot of cheap wireless gear dumped on the market. Lots of hack potential.
  • What killed them was the pricing. They have $44.95 pricing/month in San Diego and San Francisco right now for 128kb access.

    I wrote, called, and begged them to bring that pricing to the Los Angeles and Orange County market. They just won't do it.

    There are people here, waiting to sign up, but not at $70 a month when most of us are already paying for DSL. At $44.95 it could replace DSL for everyone I know, not to mention it's portable! I don't know why they never lowered their prices.

  • For what it's worth, I have a Verizon DSL line and I've talked to their tech support several times. Not once have I ever been asked what OS I was running, and there is definitely no proprietary driver needed (at least in my area).

    Ricochet also uses some flavor of PPP dialup I believe, so they are also based on some sort of standard at least.

  • Ironically, pricing was probably their biggest problem. It's really cool, but at $70 a month, forget it.

    $40, now you're talking... but they won't lower their prices.

  • Is there a point in your post somewhere? None of the technologies you listed is anything close to what Ricochet provides.
  • check and look for promotional pricing in San Diego - $44.95 for 128kbps access.
  • I can't work out how they managed to lose out - their service rocks, and I'm perfectly happy paying $79.95 a month for it ... never seen an unhappy customer, including the 7 people I signed up for their service myself.

    I know one problem - no one knew about the service! When they launched in Los Angeles, DSL was starting to have many problems... it would have been an ideal alternative. They should have been pitching it to people who lost their Zyan DSL - but if you asked, most people, even techies, had never heard of it.

  • And then i read this...breaks my heart. I was told in my San Fran suburb (san Rafael) I would only get 28.8 speeds as they upgrade. I plugged it in for the first time, connected through linux and got over 208k down, 80k up. I nearly wet myself that a company had under promised and over delivered.

    The end of the article said
    "In addition, many new mobile phones are growing increasingly complex, reducing the need for wireless Net access via laptop. "


    Cell phones with wireless web suck my butt and do not reduce the need for fast wireless internet access for the zillions of laptop users out there.

    I sure hope this service can stay alive.
  • I've never tried to use Verizon's wireless stuff, but from the looks of the link, they give you the hardware and the Windows or Mac drivers. That's a bit more than just "what's your nameserver?"

    Perhaps not supported, but Verizon just uses CDPD, like AT&T. Doesn't the old IBM (I think) CDPD modem work under Linux?


    Care about freedom?
  • quote:My services is actually through WorldCOM so I don't know what is going to happen. No, your support is throught WorldCom. Your service just like mine is through Ricochet/Metricom. If the bankruptcy goes on and they run out of cash or don't find a buyer then we both have really neat paperweights.
  • I hope a decent company buys Metricom, figures out a way to make money with the system...

    Attention Metricom customers:

    In order to provide you with a better service, we have decided to improve our pricing from the previous $70/month. We will now generously give you a choice between two pricing policies, so you can pick the policy that best fits your needs. The options are:

    1) $100/month, plus $3.95/hour after the first hour. No longer will you have to be billed extra for hours you don't spend on-line!

    2) $500/month flat fee. Unlimited time!

  • Odd. I was thinking of this company today. They've always resisted selling their basestation modems to third parties who wanted to use them. I would take the plans, license the base stations and let a network self-organize. People are already doing this with 802.11 stuff and if my instincts are right, the Metricom stuff is cooler. It's designed to self-organize and link up.

    That would be the cool thing to do.

  • Ditto. Campbell, CA - wedged between San Jose and Los Gatos is spotty as far as DSL and San Jose has zero Internet over cable. Went with Ricochet/WWC.
  • Will someone, once and for all, explain to me why Eazel is so often held up as the classic example of linux "dump company"? Please go further than saying something obnoxious and/or simplistic like "they spent X million dollars to make crappy file manager" b/c we all know that Nautilus was way more than just a "file manager" in the typical sense.

    Personally, I was very impressed with everything Eazel had done so far (except for how it took so long to takeover desktop during startup), and I had really been looking forward to seeing more from the company because I'd felt they were really beginning to provide, in a unique way, the kind of additional usability, functionality, and aesthetic appeal that would make linux more attractive to a wider range of potential users.

    In some form, a little more rigorous than in the typical off-hand remarks as exemplified above, I would really like to hear what was so Godawful about Eazel.

  • Wasn't it supposed to be "alpha-quality"? I mean, had Eazel even had 9 months to work on it? As for speed, I always thought that that was largely b/c it was using the super-slow old Mozilla which hadn't undergone performance tuning yet. Does anyone know whether or not post-Mozilla0.9 Nautilus is a lot faster?
  • the ricochet modems they sell here in san diego act like standerd hayes compat. serial modems ether thrue a real serial cable or over USB , both methods work in linux, I can connect at 240k with the usb cable and 80k with the serial, to bad usb is a bitch to setup in linux(with this modem anyway) I gave up on setting up a usb connection and just set up a small home network useing windows as a server. People have claimed to have set it up over usb in the linux I just dont know that much about linux usb to do anything with it
  • in San Diego, Ricochet 128k service is 44.95$ /mth and the 128k is a min connect speed I norm get 240k
  • I don't beleive that globalstar has filed for bankruptcy yet. When do you think it happened?
  • The average user isn't interested in the benefits of good wireless coverage and what it can get them. There just isn't a big enough market for a company like this to make money at this time. My parents were appalled that I paid $50/month for DSL when they got "perfectly good Internet on [their] 56K AOL account". Maybe someday if we're lucky wireless service will be economical enough and useful enough to attract an audience that can support the size of company required to provide good service. I've got my fingers crossed.
  • I tried R2 when it came out to the bay area. It sucked. I was hoping to have enough qos to make a remote shell usable. I was wrong. I couldn't even reach anyone over there that knew the diff. between latency and bandwidth. Sorry but I consider 2 second latencies atleast every couple of minutes awful. If you're a braindead web-surfer, maybe it's ok, though.
  • yeah, so what, are you used to proprietary serial port technology ?
  • Ricochet's primary appeal is internet access on the go. As 802.11 gets more pervasive at homes and businesses, proprietary wireless networks like Ricochet don't make a lot of sense. A few people will still want coverage everywhere, but as Iridium proved, that's a pretty darn small market.

    Think about it. Where do people usually use their laptops? Home, work, coffee shops, the park, the airport, etc. I imagine all of those places will have 802.11 connectivity within the next five years. AirPort access is already widely available at coffee shops in the Bay Area [], and Starbucks is working to add wireless networking [] to all of their shops.

    In the meantime though, this is really a shame. I have friends whose primary connection is Ricochet because they can't get DSL or cable. They're going to be pissed if they have to go back to dialup.

  • If all you want is 19.2 and "ease of linux" use, dial through your PCS phone. Many of the newer models will act as a modem and accept AT commands.

    It's not as fast as ricochet, but better than trying to check mail using a "wireless web" browser.

  • I've been using a Motorola Timeport phone (P8767). It comes with a serial cable packaged with it, and you can use startalk [] to sync your phone numbers with linux.

    Many of the other Sprint phones require you to buy a $100 internet connection kit, and some of them need special software. Not sure the exact capabilities of the phones, but I'm pretty sure the software is all for windows.

  • Sorry, I meant Orbcomm. Globalstar is the only LEO comsat operator that's managed *not* to file for bankruptcy.

    Still, Metricom has a lot in common with Iridium: they both developed genuinely innovative technology that worked well, but the high costs of deployment them meant that they had to charge more than most potential customers were willing to pay.

    Bankruptcy actually led to cheaper services for Iridium users, because the company that took over the system didn't have to pay for its construction. It could mean the same for Ricochet.

  • by cyberformer ( 257332 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @01:53PM (#112727)
    Bankruptcy is common in the wireless world, and doesn't necessarilly mean the end of the company or their service. Iridium kept going for several months after bankruptcy, then came back a year later. Globalstar did even better, emerging from Chapter 11 without affecting service.
  • I tried to get Ricochet service for one of my employees. Went through Juno, since that's where the employee used to have an account. In spite of the careful work we did to make sure the modem would be here when he was here, pre-configured and ready to go, it was actually sent to his old address, 3000 miles away. Juno wanted us to return the modem--um, folks, it's 3000 miles from here because of YOUR mistake. They eventually sent a replacement modem, three weeks too late to be of use. It wasn't configured on the Metricom network, so it didn't work.

    The employee got a new neighbor, a new Deputy Attorney General for his state government. Within 24 hours, DSL and cable modem were available in the neighborhood, eliminating the need for a Metricom box.

    I tried to tell this to Metricom via email. They don't have "support@" or "root@" or "president@". I looked up their President's name and tried sending email to him directly. That also bounced with a "no such user." Fine. Juno screws up, Metricom doesn't want to talk with customers. We took our business to the DSL provider. Too bad--if it had worked, we would have acquired several more Metricom modems.
  • I think its pretty simple. Eazel never had a valid and by that I mean they never had a chance in hell way to make money. They really didn't. So all the funding that went to Eazel is funding that did NOT go to a company with a more sensible business plan. Say a plan where people would actually WANT to pay for your services, like Metricom. There were many companies like Eazel. When times were good they could do no wrong. The only thing they couldn't do was make money. Understand now?
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @03:22PM (#112734) Journal
    Uh-oh, pipe-size wars...

    The actual number that appears in the connection setup is something like 410 kbps. When I first got Ricochet, I could get occasional ftp xfers (under Windows) of over 320 kbps. Since then, they've obviously fiddled some configs (which fixed some disastrous problems, so I'm not complaining) that have brought the nominal top end down to 150k. There might be a few 250k+ seconds here and there, but I don't check it much anymore.

    Someone almost certainly will be able to buy and bail this out. Those Rico & Chet commercials must've cost a bundle, but the Chapter can write that off. And there's still no viable competition for the market segment: 100kbps at 70mph.

  • To have any connection to the ground? :-)

    Two witches watch two watches.
  • Another duplicate post? I mean this was only posted last...oh, wait. It's not.

    Well, damn. Now I've got nothing to whine about, and I might actually have to read the article and post something meaningful.

    I wouldn't expect to see anyone replace this service anytime soon. The big boys don't want the competition, and I doubt any of them are smart enough to capitalize on the existing network, rather than try to build one from the ground up.
  • by SexPig ( 464304 ) on Monday July 02, 2001 @02:14PM (#112742) Homepage
    I second what Roblimo states above. I'd even go further and state that they tend to understate their coverage availability.

    I was in Bethesda, MD last year and the service was top-notch although they did not claim coverage outside the DC area. When I stated this to a company rep they stated that they had wider coverage of Denver than advertised and that they didn't officially launch a coverage zone until it was thoroughly tested.

    Perhaps this may be why it did not catch on so fast? Everyone I know who had one loved it.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.