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Wireless along the Maine Coast 100

eggboard writes: "The coast of Maine started getting lit up by wireless over long distance back in 1997. Now hundreds of users, some of them dozens of miles from the connecting ISP's HQ, use plain old 802.11, 802.11b's predecessor, to hit nearly 2 Mbps of throughput. Cable Internet is broken out there; DSL unreachable; ISDN expensive. Other communities are also adopting tower-based point-to-point, bridge and repeater wireless to bring broadband to rural and small towns. Is this the way to drag lesser-populated areas into the modern economy, and promote deurbanization?"
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Wireless along the Maine Coast

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  • Do we really need to deurbanize that badly?
    • Re:Honestly (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree. Deurbanization = bad thing.

      Especially in Maine, one of the last states 'wilderness' states and here we are going to decentralize everything and put wireless network towers up in the mountains.

      It's not as refreshing when you hike to the top of a remote mountain and find a cel tower at the top. At least you can take the service drive back to the bottom, but it takes away something from the serenity. Maybe it's the phone call from your girlfriend wondering why you aren't spending the afternoon with her. You wouldn't have recieved it if the tower wasn't there.

      • Re:Honestly (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 )
        I'll try to keep the Me2 to a minimum, but..Me2.

        We already had a great experiment in deurbanization called the suburb. Suddenly, Towns all over the country start to look more and more like orange county! No! Superficiality without the attractiveness! No! We must escape! To where? to the small towns! But wait, I won't be able to check my stocks and The Hun [] for natalie portman pr0n from there!

        I've delved into the silly, but the point is serious. Keep your suburban, SUV-driving, mall-patronizing asses out of the in the damn suburbs where they belong.

      • Re:Honestly (Score:3, Insightful)

        by danheskett ( 178529 )
        Especially in Maine, one of the last states 'wilderness' states and here we are going to decentralize everything and put wireless network towers up in the mountains.

        Maine is already very much decentralized. And make no mistake, we are very very rural in many parts still. However, it is incredibly refreshing and nice to live in a state where I can live in a small city AND still travel a reasonable distance to have a nice job.

        I work for a small company and marvel at how we can all live the lifestyle we want because of Maine's conveinences and land styles. The office is located in the very pinnacle of cities in Maine, Portland, which houses 66,000 of 1.2 million. Portland is the largest city in Maine by about 10,000-15,000. Out of the fifteen or so people in office, none live directly in Portland. I live in a town of about 250, and yet can be at my desk in less than 25 minutes. A co-worker and fellow slashdotter lives in a beautiful lake-front house at the end of a dirt road and can be at his desk in 45 minutes. A technican lives 30 minutes outside of town on a lovely farm complete with barnyard and horses. The boss lives in an upscale community just about 20 minutes north of town. Several others live just out of town in the quiet suburbs.

        You may hate it, but frankly, most Mainers love the ability to live and work where and how we want. We largely do not have to fight massive traffic jams (my longest delay ever is approximately 5 minutes of waiting to get into a rotary), we largely have a clean environment. Our State has more forest land today than when the Pilgrims landed hundreds of years ago. Each year more and more of that land gets put into permananent land trust.

        So maybe when you hike to the mountain and your girlfriend calls you and ruins your day you should look a little deeper at the problem. Next time, leave your phone at home.
        • Don't know about the US, but in Canada your not a city unless you cross the 100K mark and greator area doesn't count. I also believe Ontario raised that marker to 150k not all that long ago (last year?).

          Does that mean Maine doesn't have any cities? Or do americans bench their cities at a different mark -- like 50k?
          • In New England, of which Maine is a part, "City" is defined by its type of government. A "Town" has a town meeting, either "open" (all voters can come) or "representative" (vote for your neighborhood's representatives, so TM is more like a legislature). I'm not sure about Maine, which spun off of Massachusetts in 1820, but in Massachusetts, a Town doesn't have a mayor; the Selectmen are the executive. A "City" in contrast has a mayor and council, no town meeting.

            So we have Cities typically ranging from 10k population up, but Towns can be quite large too. Last year, several Towns in Massachusetts adopted City government. (But the largest, with over 60k pops, refuses.) Maine's cities are all small by Ontario standards, but they tend to be regional centers, and if they were Towns, they'd be too large for open meeting anyway.

            Back to the original topic -- I think it'sa shame that Slashdotters overlay their aversion to Sprawl atop midcoast Maine, which really doesn't look a bit like Orange County.
            • In New England, of which Maine is a part, "City" is defined by its type of government. A "Town" has a town meeting, either "open" (all voters can come) or "representative" (vote for your neighborhood's representatives, so TM is more like a legislature). I'm not sure about Maine, which spun off of Massachusetts in 1820, but in Massachusetts, a Town doesn't have a mayor; the Selectmen are the executive. A "City" in contrast has a mayor and council, no town meeting.

              Maine's "cities" have mayors. how those mayors are appointed varies. Some are figureheads, like in South Portland, where I grew up. The mayor there is selected by the city council, which are in turn voted into office. Other mayors are elected directly by the people.

              Having lived most of my life in Maine, I can say that although the government often gets in the way, people generally have better evirons in which to live, commute and work.

              I have mixed feelings when I hear about technology sectors moving into Maine. On one hand, I am a geek. I don't like the fact that I had to move to Massachusetts to get a decent salary. If I could get similar rates in Maine, I'd be back there in a heartbeat. On the other hand, many businesses are looking for low tax overhead (among other things) when they choose a locale. The chances that a company is really interested in the way of life that Maine is "famous" for is extremely slim. The larger companies are interested in establishments that involve populations higher than many of the surrounding communities, which means more pollution, more noise, more dolts that don't know how to drive (where did THAT come from?!? <g>), etc. Next thing you know, the local scenery is shot. <sigh>
        • I wasn't clear enough in my Slashdot suggestion: when I said "deurbanize," I meant the more generally accepted definition (I thought) of "how do we reduce the necessity of suburb-to-urban commuting" as well as the related concept of allowing decreased density without commensurate increases in traffic or infrastructure problems.

          Maine itself is a great example of a great mix of urban and rural that could be a model for other states. Maine is just hard enough to live in (the weather, the distance, the long-established communities) that it self-restricts the kind of urbanization you get. I lived there for two years and loved it!
      • umm...

        You wouldn't have received the phone call from your girlfriend if you hadn't taken your cell phone with you.
      • I strongly disagree. Deurabnization would be a great thing.

        The software company I work for needs to be located in the expensive heart of the biggest city in Canada like we all need a hole in our head. But because of the "perceived need", all of the employees either have to pay a HUGE amount of money for a SMALL place to live, or they have to spend 1-3 hours a day commuting.

        Do you have any idea what 1-3 hours of commuting creates in terms of pollution? Do you have any idea of what a huge drain on the economy all these grossly inefficient highly expensive cities and concrete towers cost? Don't attribute to "economic necessity" that which can be easily explained by social dellusion.

        Now I appreciate your concern about having all of North America covered by one big suburb. So where's the right middle ground?

        Currently the US and Canada are 75% urban, 25% rural. (see here []) If all the small towns in the country were tripled in size (which means taking people from the city cores AND the suburbs, which are counted as part of the urban megopolis'), what would it look like? I think that the country would not look like one massive suburbia. My little tiny home town would simply be a little bigger, still surrounded by massive amounts of nature. (Currently 1000 people in a couple square miles in the middle of 400 square miles of countryside).

        The suburbs are PART of urban areas. When people talk about deurbanization, they are talking about taking the people in those 100 square miles of suburbia and spreading them out.

        I'm 100% behind deurbanization.
    • Do we really need to deurbanize that badly?

      The people in Maine who live in those areas are already deurbanized. They have been for years. Maine has a long history of not being/becoming a "city"-rich state. Portland, our largest city, has a population of 66,000. The "Greater Portland Area" is tops 250,000. This in a state with a population of 1.2 Million.

      What this is really all about is leveling the field and improving the quality of life in these locations. Internet access of a high-speed nature opens many doors, and futhermore, relieves much stress from the POTS already in the place.

      • Level the playing field? Too bad that most people who might benefit from this can't afford it. Don't forget that Maine is one of the poorest states, and, one of the highest taxed. Most people who live here can't afford $50.00 a month, or an $800.00 set up fee. For a level playing field we need cheap internet access, and I don't see that happening very soon.

    • I live in a small town of about 7000 called Blackwell, Oklahoma. We did this 2 years ago. My dad, his friend and computer technician and myself set up a wireless link to Ponca, a city in which Mike hosted his websites and such. This link pointed to Blackwell, a town about 12 miles away straight point-to-point. This then shot over to my house, about 2 miles out of Blackwell. This was a great thing. I still use it.
      Then we have this lame company called "Get Real Cable" whose headquarters is in a community thrift shop and it looks like they have the Very Large Array of satellites in their back yard. They have cable internet service. But seriously, there are a lot of people out there without high speed internet. High speed internet is great.
    • No, but we damn well need to de-suburbanize!
    • I moved out to maine from San Jose, Ca about 1 year ago to the day. I first moved up into Farmington, a very small town. I loved it, it was like camping everyday. There was nothing but forest for as far as I could see from my window. But the only available internet option was satalite... so I was forced to move back to the city. I would really like a nice solution in the forest someday, so that I can return.
  • Being Done in Iowa (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rura Penthe ( 154319 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @03:22AM (#2423230)
    My uncles who live in Iowa have talked frequently about this sort of thing being done there. However, the companies are using old unused silos and other structures that are already standing to reduce costs and make it easier to get the network up and running more quickly. :)
    • I know that in Radium, KS - upon the top of the grain elevator, sits an extended antena that taps into a T1 line (via a fairly in-expensive setup). The range on that is pretty insane since you have miles upon miles of line of site. It is free to everyone in the CO-OP. Quite a few farmers have laptops in their tractors and my uncle has an Ipaq with the wireless connection and uses that. Also, the Radium CO-Op was one of the first to use GPS to monitor field ... stuff. (Im the city mouse, my cousins are the farm mice)
  • Sounds to me like just a massive security problem waiting for someone to take advantage of it. Those protocols are extremely extremely insecure, from what I recall. At least use the newer standards!

    If I was a citizen of that area, I'd be urging for subsidies that would provide low-cost two-way satellite Internet connections - assuming the dish providers ever make them available instead of just promising it for years. I'm in a rural area with similar problems, and I'd pay up to $45 a month for two-way dish Internet, but nobody will sell it to me. So I'm stuck at a 28.8 connection with bad phone lines miles away from the server I dial into. But only 20 miles away one town gives all its citizens free DSL, and another has cable, DSL, and ISDN available for low cost. Really annoying - so close yet so very very far.

    • Re:Privacy/Security? (Score:2, Informative)

      by rosewood ( 99925 )
      REading through basically sums up the security concerns and then offers solutions. Basically, same rules as if you were on a wired connection. SSH SSL, and VPN, etc.
    • So now there's actually a justifiable reason for SSL (not ONE credit card number has EVER been stolen by external network sniffing! On your work LAN, however, that is a different story). So what?

      Apop, pgp, ssh, vpns, and ssl were created for this. If you don't want somebody mailsnarfing you, encrypt and authenticate. It's that simple.
    • Not quite extremely extremely insecure.

      On the most basic level, you would need to write your own software to crack into FHSS. I don't know of any cards running FHSS supported by standard WEP crackers (which are mostly for PrismII based DSSS cards).

      Even with 802.11b WEP DSSS not all companies use WEP the same way. The more ISP-oriented equipment works with different keys for each user, which makes the job much more difficult. Even with the normal consumer kit, rebooting the access point every day to restart WEP would make a cracker's job much harder.

      And at the moment, there's a bit of a problem with current satellite systems. The delay. Geosynchronous satellites are rather a long way away and the latency is a bit of a killer - you'll be lucky if it's better than a modem. It's the bandwidth vs. speed thing mentioned in the article: with satellite, even if you've got the bandwidth, you don't have the speed. (Plus, I'd be interested to hear if these are secure anyway. Certainly you can sniff a downlink signal and forge an uplink signal from a much larger area than a system which is covered by ground-based antennas which gives a lot more people the opportunity to play around :-) The only good thing about geosynchronous satellite is the coverage area.

      In a few years, maybe satellite will be useful: but it's going to take LEOS to sort out the latency problem, and then you need an awful lot of birds to provide the type of coverage needed to offer a commercial service (info here []).

    • That is my network the article is about.

      This is not 802.11b and there is no software for cracking 802.11 Frequency hopping. Radio console ports are password protected.

      Perhaps not infinitely secure, but probably 100x better than 802.11b. There are ISPs using 802.11b
      and some of them are quite concerned about security, especially in college towns!

      The only people that urge for subsidies are the phone companies, so they can take the money and make things happen real slow or not at all. As for your situation, I'd suggest helping your local ISP make it happen, or moving (I suggest local ISP because it requires a knowledge of the local terrain and land owners)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Good, now people can have internet access while driving from Boston to Halifax. That was the point, right?
    • No, this is point-to-point for subscribers who would be stuck with dial-up or expensive ISDN otherwise. The idea is that you could actually run a business or work remotely in places where formerly that would be impossible for Internet-based folk. Did you read the article?
  • This article has explained that funny smell in the air on the coast of Maine - porn in the air at 2 Mbps.
  • Good and bad sides. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlowCat ( 216402 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @03:39AM (#2423252)
    Better wireless connectivity means more telecommuting jobs. This means less driving. Less CO2 in the air. Good for people (adults). Good for mooses. Bad for plants that need CO2. Bad for children in Maine, who don't see anything except their town and the the computer monitor. Many families in Maine visit Boston just one or two times a year, let alone New York or Washington.

    That's ecology - you fix one thing and break another.

    • Better wireless connectivity means more telecommuting jobs. This means less driving. Less CO2 in the air. Good for people (adults). Good for mooses. Bad for plants that need CO2. ...snip...

      Well, plants managed just fine before humans came along and started to increase the CO2-consentration in the atmosphere. They would probably handle any decrease... ;-)

    • My original post was complete drivel (especialy about CO2-hungry plants), but it was posted early. The existing moderation system promotes early replies. One doesn't even have to think to repare bad karma - it's insanely cheap.
  • If some company came along and put secure relay stations up on cellphone towers, stoplights and such, they could build a great wireless network that would have a very low TCO after 2 years. They could probably make a fortune and charge the same as earthlink does for their dsl, and be a lot more reliable (and MUCH shorter setup time)

    --but hey, whatda I know??
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @03:51AM (#2423260)
    Instead of hoping Jack Ryan would understand he was defecting, and instead of goofing around with morse code messages and sonar pings in the middle of nowhere in the sea, Cpt. Ramius could have simply popped the periscope in Maine's coastal waters, connected to the local 802.11 network and emailed "huh, we're just defectors really, just you guys don't get your blood pressure up now ..."
  • by TellarHK ( 159748 ) <tellarhk AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday October 13, 2001 @03:54AM (#2423263) Homepage Journal
    Apologies for the title ripoff.

    I currently live in a city called Calais, a hop-skip-and-underage-drinker-puke from the Canadian border. Our internet access solutions are a few small ISPs, a couple large ISPs, and a maximum connection speed of 56,666 bps. Here in the 'Downeast' region of Maine, we've got a very odd situation where we're surrounded by native american tribal communities with the ability to get some form of high-speed access, while the normal cities and towns stagger along on standard POS POTS. It's great to see these kinds of service available in the state, but by looking at the map in the article, it looks like it's only the southern parts of Maine that are being wired in. There's a lot more to Maine above Belfast, with a lot more economic need.

    Economically, Downeast Maine is pretty much a wasteland. Some companies are relocating here, but most of the region's major employers have bugged out long ago. The prices quoted for the 802.11 setup are quite high to start, seeming priced more for the already-wealthy, not for any possible benefit to those with true economic needs. Around here, a popular bumper sticker is ''I live in the other state of Maine: Washington County''. When a service like this comes to Calais with the ability to afford it with some kind of state subsidy, or with a lower starting cost, that's when it might really help.

    And no, this isn't just all about me wanting the access. Even though I've got a modem at home, I've got a laptop and root on the local community college network systems. I've got all the net access I need.
    • ah, but Maine is such a beautiful state, both states ;) I live in the Monadnock area of NH, and find the Maine coast to be another one of those places to live. What do you do there? I know Belfast has HNB or whatever (the credit company) Sounds like your beyond even Acadia? Don't feel bad - I can't get any sort of high speed access here. We have a local phone company who says I'm too far from a switch to get DSL, and the cable company says my road isn't up to cable. I tried DirecPC, but it was unuasable because of the latency. But, I suppose this comes with living in a nice remote place... Plus, These New England town townies can be kinda fuddy duddy. At least the local ISP doesn't care if I'm on line for a million hours, and it only costs $19 a month. A northern maple syrup coated version of Mayberry, right? ;)
    • Folks make choices. Live side by side & get water, sewage, etc. Live spread out and go with pumps, septic, paying $1k a pole to have electricity run in.

      That said for folks in a suburban situation it's not too difficult to set up a neighborhood LAN. Run a cable or even 802.11b between the houses. Cut a deal with an ISP where they support all of the local folks. Will it cost? Yeah but one can proablably get some deals; figure it over 2 years and it's reasonable.

      Aside from that - if ya can't pay for it you don't get it. I don't know how much economic development the State of Maine would get out of subsidizing folk's high-speed internet acess that wouldn't be better invested in roads or schoolbooks (or even the Governor's laptops in schools plan.)

      • "I don't know how much economic development the State of Maine would get out of subsidizing folk's high-speed internet acess that wouldn't be better invested in roads or schoolbooks..."

        Yeah, we wouldn't want to attract residents with high incomes who pay lots of property taxes and have a lot of money to spend in local businesses.

        • ... residents with high incomes who pay lots of property taxes and have a lot of money to spend in local businesses.

          Residents with high incomes can pay for their own damn highspeed internet access. If they're making good money then it shouldn't be an issue. If they're not making good money I don't see it being as important as other things like infrastructure & job training.

          Have you ever heard "Oh Muffy, we can't build the dream-house there - the monthly highspeed internet service bill is too high!"?
          How about "The roads suck and the schools are lousy."?

    • I hope my article didn't sound like I was dissing the rest of Maine. Midcoast is a perfect area for this kind of service because of the relative hub-and-spoke density of small towns and lines-of-sight between them, plus access to the island. Imagine the change in Matinicus with this kind of access. The Internet doesn't change everything, obviously, but for anybody who is running their own business, no matter how small, and trying to stay in touch with the rest of the world, broadband or cheap access (dial-up in this case without metering) is transformative.

      I know you're calling this an already-wealthy person's service, but it isn't. What it is is an alternative for small businesses and people who want to work in Midcoast and couldn't otherwise without a reliable broadband connection. I know several people that without the local DSL or 802.11 service MIS offered wouldn't be able to live on the Midcoast.

      For the individual user, dial-up is still the only affordable option in rural areas and small towns that aren't lucky enough to have MIS.

      Now, MIS is all the way up to Belfast now! You should talk to them about extending. Equipment prices are dropping. There are lots of local alternatives, too, as one of the other slashdotters mentions.

      Also, I'm not sure why you're criticizing MIS indirectly for not pricing this service better. Get your awesome governor, Angus King (who I had the chance to meet briefly and shake his hand on a visit last October) to put some of the development money that he's good at raising at extending high-speed wireless out to you all! Lots of hills, lots of silos, lots of potential with a few hundred thousand of seed money.
  • Here in Ontario there are many wireless 802.11(b) networks poping up that help fill in that large gaping hole in the infrastructure that Rogers and Bell Canada have left. I have been investigating building a repeater.. costs less than $7000CDN for a 96' tower these days (not including equipment) and that can cover a fair community so that line of sight issues aren't as big a concern. Think of the problem like a right angle triangle with the tower the opposite side and tree obsticles perpendicular from adjacent side. The closer and taller the service tower, the less likely the need for an additional tower at the site.

    The problem with the freenet concept is what I would consider a fair disadvantage in topology and cost duplication and the fact that it makes more sense to build one large tower and do point to multipoint where possible for both cost and speed. However nothing tops the freenet layout for underserviced areas that are on the fringes of a populated center or that can touch another tower that is close. Just hop through the terain and onto a landline, no worries about planning a big tower.

    In Ontario there are both community networks and some independant ISPs starting to role out the services such as Storm Internet [] (sister to CDSP []). Some areas have had wireless for a couple of years now.
  • I wish for once when there was an article about something great happening for free, there wouldn't be a thousand negative rants.

    Despite the fact that you would have to break into and destroy every free or open technology, not everyone thinks that way.

    I think the best part about what is going on in Maine is that 802.11(b) can be linked and repeated. With small 802.11b networks popping up, I think it may be a short time (5 years) before we have a publicly supported free wireless internet. I'd share my bandwidth, to be sure I rarely use all of it on my Cable Modem over Airport.

  • Is this the way to drag lesser-populated areas into the modern economy, and promote deurbanization?

    Ummm, I don't think that high-speed internet is the main factor keeping people in the cities (geeks excluded) :-)

    I assume that you were referring to tele-commuting; I wonder what percentage of the population are employed in occupations where working from home is actually feasible...

    • However, more people are less likely to commute long distances (creating 1 less car in traffic burning lots of fuel and wasting time) if they can have a small office near home or a small home office. HS Internet is an attractive thing to have at an office these days although, you can't move everything to the rural areas/suburbs just because (gee-whiz!) you got wireless Internet.
    • Re:Deurbanization? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by OnanTheBarbarian ( 245959 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @04:43AM (#2423308)
      Agreed. The idea that deurbanization is something that should be blandly promoted is getting pretty old. I love how off-the-cuff the remark in the original post is; it's almost as if we're all convinced that the cities should be emptied out, and only details remain.

      The anti-urban crowd have also popped up for a series of idiotic, tasteless suggestions about the WTC bombing (perhaps if we didn't work in these big downtowns, we'd all be much safer).

      Face it, guys. There's a reason that people pay megabucks for downtown office space in big cities: promixity to other real people. We've had Internet access, videoconferencing, Kinkos, etc. in suburbia/exburbia for years and somehow the city centers refuse to empty out.

      This not to mention the very real externalities imposed by deurbanization; you know, chewing up green space, the inevitable commute once it turns out that big-screen TV and DSL fail to substitute for a social life and a vibrant work environment, etc. etc.

      If you want to live a life as a wired hermit, good for you, but don't expect too many people to join you any time soon.
      • This is great for the few of us that really do want to live far away from big cities. Those of us who enjoy a quiet evening with the closest neighbors 1.5 miles away. Those of us who are geeks also like the steady hum of bits of data flowing...even out in the boonies. I know that some people think this is a sub-par/not fully thought out desire, but this is what I enjoy.

        Just my few pennies on the issue.
  • by mj6798 ( 514047 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @04:23AM (#2423294)
    Sprint Broadband [] provides the same kind of service in major metropolitan areas. You get up to 5 Mbps at costs comparable to DSL or cable. In the SF Bay Area, Sprint Broadband actually started out as a small, local company.
  • by delta0 ( 181139 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @04:26AM (#2423295)
    Yes! I think 802.11b is what we all need in the rural areas that are say at the most 15-30 miles from town but still can't get service even if there is a CO only 5-10 km away. Also providers are building backbones from downtown areas to remote communities by installing biger pipes than the standard maximum (stress max) 11Mbps stuff like the Cisco Aironet 340/350 or Lucent stuff. They are using 45Mbps or greater as a cheap alternative to service areas where fiber doesn't go, Ma Bell wants too much money for, or to areas that have dark fiber just lying there, that cost a fortune to install, that no one -- wants to (due to lack of money) -- or is smart enough (even if they have the money) to light up and connect people to.

    If Cisco, Lucent and Nortel want any type of increased demands in their core fiber products on the home front (to help them out in returning to better times) they should consider wireless 2.4GHz and the last mile their good friend. They need more people demanding more bandwidth in more locations, doing more, for longer. That is what will allow us all to be modern and do such advanced things as download large email attachments, get our repulsive Flash animations sooner, or CVSup in less time [windows equivalent: get patches and chunky bloated shareware quicker] (-- wow, the future is here). But what it will really do is get people downloading more pr0n and mp3z, so then the need for bandwidth will sky-rocket and the backbones will need to be upgraded at ever more frequent rates not to mention HD sales will triple.

    Seriously, part of the problem of why the Internet companies are doing so bad, is cause they didn't get it to enough people soon enough, at a low enough cost, fast enough and that even if they did most people don't care and consider it an expensive luxury. And the reason so many .com companies are doing so bad, was that not enough people take the Internet seriously because it's either too slow or still considered a luxury. The masses are in need of some education about the Internet *still*. It's a tool to me, not some entertainment service that should be rapidly commercialized or be ruled by the economics of media!

    Well, as you can tell I'm frustrated that things aren't moving forward for the better for everyone yet. The tech "overcapacity" is really an underlying "undercapacity" with regards to actual implementation!!
  • I don't think if it will be answer to de-urbanization, because other factors contriute to it, we had large cities long before the internet, heck even before the telephone. People don't live together in cities because of its telecomunication infrastructure. But wireless has a great potential in developing regions, wireless would be cheaper to implement than "old fashioned" copper or fiber communications.
  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Saturday October 13, 2001 @06:38AM (#2423391)
    This and other articles recently about WLAN's have me wondering about how much spectrum there is available for WLAN. If you used nothing but WLAN (no ordinary LAN's) in a downtown office area of a major city, would that cause big problems? What can be done and what have been done to work around this?
    • The 5 GHz spectrum has been opened up to newer WLAN flavors, mostly 802.11a at present. There's a lot of unused spectrum in several ranges that won't conflict with existing flavors. The 802.11a encoding algorithm, OFDM, is more forgiving of signal reflection and overlap, too. It runs at 54 Mbps, but has about a dozen step-down slower speeds, so you can run at all kinds of rates in overlapping cells.
  • Yup, lasers []. Though i have no idea how harsh atlantic weather would effect transmission.

    here [] is some more on laser broadband, and here [] and here [].

  • I thought the 2.4GHz band was reserved for non-commercial use only. Surely these ISPs are contravening FCC rules?
    • 2.4 Ghz can be used for anything you'd like - you just have to stay within the power constraints. And there are exceptions to that as well...
  • Storm Internet is trying to get Wireless extensively outside the Ottawa area. I gather this is a good way to compete in getting (and keeping) users. I think there are several towns around Ottawa that they have coverage for.

  • Always enjoyable to see the media "discover" something that's been around for a long while :)

    Here at in sleepy South Bend, Indiana we've been doing the exact same thing for similar reasons. This region of the country is a black hole of dark fiber, non-existant or poor cable operator access and hostile CLEC/ILEC's that are not offering DSL OR creating peering arrangements with ISP's to do so. Our Ameritech office here literally will not return phone calls to ANYONE inquiring about DSL.

    • Always enjoyable to see the media "discover" something that's been around for a long while :)

      A. I'm not the media. I'm one guy who is obsessed by 802.11 and all its letters. O'Reilly Network is a developer editorial site, not the Washington Post.

      B. I clearly state in the article that they've been running this service since 1997. I thought their particular story, especially with four years of solid experience and their rejection of 802.11b in favor 802.11, were all interesting points.

      I didn't pretend, nor did the site, that we discovered these guys. They were happy enough tooling along without any publicity.
  • Maine is actually doing very well for broadband technology. We've had RoadRunner here in Portland for years now (one of the best run systems, too, no bandwidth throttling or overloaded nodes), and they wired the northern part of the state for it last year.

    The tower system Midcoast has is very interesting, probably the best way to get fast access onto the islands. A client of mine had a relay station put on top of one of his buildings and got a free access point out of it. I've seen availability of internet in Maine, and more recently broadband in Maine have a large impact on deurbanization. Many people in NY and Massachusetts would love to move to a more rural, less hectic, lower taxed area. However, unless they are retired, the only thing that allows them to is being able to work remotely. People such as book editors and web developers move up here all the time for that purpose.

    Connection to the internet also makes a big difference to the people who live in rural communities. My neighbor owns a gift shop (West Quoddy Gifts []) that started selling to people all over the country after putting up a basic web site. In a place where business opportunities are limited, the internet is wide open. My own business ( []) is set up so that I could be anywhere with a computer, a telephone, and a fax machine.

  • It's a long way to tie a small corner of computer science to curing urban sprawl. Not only are there many other areas of computer science often working in opposition to the objective but there are other things besides computer science promoting deurbanization. Terrorist attacks have deurbanized areas far better than wireless LAN. The cost of houses in Contra Costa County doubled since September while the cost of houses in San Jose fell through the floor.
  • I had the pleasure (or pain) of working in the Maine ISP arena for a few years. Midcoast was a pioneer back in 1997...where was the /. coverage then?

    Better late than never, I suppose. My hat is always off to Jason and Co. at Midcoast. They've been doing neat shit for over 4 years and they're still at it.

  • Ham radio operators generally love to do stuff to aid the community, and often have big pre-existing towers.

    We run a decent sized wireless-only (sorry, for a profit) ISP as a father-son team. He's a ham radio operator whose very familiar with microwave frequencies, and I'm the network geek. With his experience and rf network design, we have an incredible coverage area, and have saves tens of thousands on antennas and cable by using his sources.

    Unfortunately most of us networking geeks don't know the first thing about ERP, antenna design and poliarization, or any of the other RF principles that are crucial to wireless network design. Ham op's can be a wonderful resource in freenet projects.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser