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Aerie Networks to Reactivate Ricochet Service? 75

JimDog writes: "Aerie Networks is apparently buying the assets and IP of Metricom's Ricochet service and plans to reactivate it in at least some of the former coverage areas. A more detailed press release in PDF format is available here." There might be some hope for Ricochet addicts after all.
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Aerie Networks to Reactivate Ricochet Service?

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  • Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:44PM (#2525005)
    I'm currently building a wearable, and a reestablished Ricochet would be excellent for that. Anybody remember what coverage was like in the SF bay area (where I live) and New England (where I go to school)?
    • coverage maps (Score:5, Informative)

      by JimDog ( 443171 ) on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:51PM (#2525056)
      Although you can no longer get to it from the main web site (which has been replaced with a bankruptcy notice), the coverage maps [] are still available. I believe Metricom also built infrastructure in some additional metro areas where service was never officially announced and no coverage maps are available, but Aerie has the rights to that equipment as well. Some of those metros include Chicago and Salt Lake City.
      • Re:coverage maps (Score:3, Informative)

        by theNAM666 ( 179776 )
        believe Metricom also built infrastructure in some additional metro areas where service was never officially announced and no coverage maps are available,

        You can find the location of every poletop Metricom ever put up as part of the bankruptcy sale asset list at the metricom sale site [].

        but Aerie has the rights to that equipment as well.

        I'm afraid not. The poletop easements and the equipment on them were abandoned by the bankrupcy court, which is what caused Aerie to reduce their bid to $8.25M from $20M; see news coverage [] for details: Aerie will have to rebuild the equipment.

    • Ricochet was great if you stayed put, but in a moving vehicle it had great trouble microcell-hopping. I find CDPD, as implemented as a virtual NIC by the Sierra Aircard 300 [], to be much more useful in mobile environments. It is even usable on most of the Amtrak trip between Washington, DC and NYC.

      I've used CDPD to build a portable webcam [].
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ricochet was great if you stayed put, but in a moving vehicle it had great trouble microcell-hopping

        First, why are you driving (most do) and using an Internet connection?

        Second, that's not my experience. I, a driver and a Ricochet user, drove 80 MPH down I-5 (between the 91 and the 405) often maintaining a constant AOL AIM chat session and an ssh telnet connection to my server(s). I also did this on PCH between the 55 and Long Beach (though only at 60 MPH). There was no trouble "hopping" -- AIM and TeraTermPro w/ SSH don't handle drop packets well at ALL.

        Don't try that at home, kiddies.

        • As an aside, I was tempted to drive in the carpool lane and day-dreamt about telling the cop that I was hosting multiple users on my computer (I used my Richochet-equipped laptop as a backup server for development and had a couple people banging away at my mod_perl stuff running under Apache on Win32) and, thus, was "pooling" while in my car.

          Never did it. No guts, not nuts.

      • Too bad your CDPD connection is soooo slow and drops calls uring rush hour.

        I never had any problems with Ricochet moving between microcells. Have you actually used Ricochet, or are you just trolling?

        I think 80-240kbps stationary and 20-50kbps moving is far nicer than CDPD - a maximum of 14-19kbps. Have fun.
  • Old and slow. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ahknight ( 128958 )
    Let's just throw some NAPs (Neighborhood Access Points) out there and give everyone an 802.11b card. Wireless modems are silly these days. Let it die.
    • Re:Old and slow. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Galvatron ( 115029 )
      Let's just throw some NAPs (Neighborhood Access Points) out there and give everyone an 802.11b card.

      Okay, when you've done that, let me know. Until then, I'd like to see Ricochet reactivated. Don't wish for something to die until the alternative is in place.

      • Are you kidding? I wanted DOS to die from day one and look where that's got us. It took until this year for it to officially go away. No, keep wishing and if it's broken bad enough it will get replaced.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          802.11b has no accounting in it. I like the idea of small local Wireless Aaccess Points open to all, but I cringe when people call it "free" internet (which is what most seem to call it). How is that -free-? Someone is donating their access to that public WAP: It's philanthropy, not a foundation for ubuquitous high speed wireless access to the net.
          I can't see how -that- is a system to replace a -business- like ricochet. Unless you personally can pay for the hardware and wireline bandwidth...? (What is the price point when you're buying 5,000 WAP access points? : ) bk425
          • People have forgotten about the notion of "public". Things like 802.11b access should be public -- yes, they are not free, just like roads aren't free. But roads are free to use, and in a wise society stuff like 802.11b could be free to use -- because it would be a public resource.

            It is quite true that charity cannot replace business. But public works can replace business. That would be really cool.

            • Good point. I buy a registration from my state government to pay for the roads and to give me access to them. I would not mind another $60/yr to get WI access as well. Perhaps even more, you know? If they want authentication *sigh* then I'm ok with PPPoE. I just want access. There's a telco fight in my area and nobody can get broadband of any sort until they finish duking it out. It's been two years.
    • I came from this environment just recently (lot's of places to put network access points using 802.11 due to neighborhood access points on current builds), and even if your sticking god awful size antennas on these things, consistancy of service is rough at best. 802.11b was meant for enclosed spaces, and while it's easy to find random networks, establishing adjacencies between fiber planned naps is nearly impossible.
  • Other info on this (Score:4, Informative)

    by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:53PM (#2525063)
    At this url: tag=owv [] there's info on Aerie Networks looking to talk to municipal governments resell their wireless services like utilities. So not only are they reactivating it in some areas, they're also looking for new ways to sell their services and hopefully turn a profit unlike Metricom.
    • and hopefully turn a profit unlike Metricom

      With an investment overhead of $8.5million versus $1 Billion, this shouldn't be too difficult. Heck, at $80 per month, 51,000 subscribers recoup that outlay in 2 months!

      I do hope they advertise. I had no idea that Richochet was in my area until stumbling upon Earthlink's site and seeing the option for wireless broadband. I bought in the same day. So did my employer (offered to pay for my service, and to get it himself), and my main client (for use in 50 to 100 sales reps travelling in the 14 markets Ricochet offered service. Before committing to the deal, the "dark" announcement was made. With a *little* attention to marketing this should be a cinch.

  • I tried it and had nothing but problems. Packet loss, Slow speads, and Ip drops. Hope they can make it better. []
  • by Angry Black Man ( 533969 ) <vverysmartman AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday November 05, 2001 @07:00PM (#2525083) Homepage
    I have heard mixed things about Metricom's Ricochet service when I was researching what high-speed internet I should look into. Here is some background information on the service if you don't know much about it yet: Metricom's MicroCellular Data Network technology operates via 900MHz radios atop streetlamps and utility poles. The technology doesn't sound isn't entirely new at first. It has been running since 1996 (at speeds of 28.8kbits/s) in some areas and for the low price of $30 a month that is still a bargain today. Recently, Metricom revamped the service and got it up to a more pleasing number: 128Kbits/sec. The problem now is that Metricom decided to sell the service through "Ricochet Authorized Service Providers." The prices on this were in the $75 range (not to mention a sweltering $300 for a modem).

    So what is so great about this service? Well it comes with a 10-ounce external modem that can be used on your laptop. Not only does this modem have its own rechargeable battery but it also connects via serial or USB. And even better is that the service is compatible with not only Win 9x and 2000 but also Macintosh, Linux, Windows CE, or any other OS with PPP software.

    So if you were wondering why some people liked the service so much hopefully you know now. The reason I didn't go with it was some of the reviews said that it ran too slow in my area. So I got AT&T Roadrunner... the service could be better and I can't take it on the road with me but this is fast enough for me and that's good enough for now. Maybe now that some more life is getting pumped into the service and a new owner is running the show I'll look into it once again.
    • Only the first PCMCIA modems were $300. The outboard modems were only $99.

      Toward the end, they started selling the service for $40 and below. That's probably where the new guys will price it. $75 was fine for the mobile power users, but prevented Ricochet from competing well with DSL and cable, and kept away the base of casual users that would have made them more sound financially without taking up a lot of resources.

      Technically, Ricochet was terrific for me once they cleaned up one or two network switching problems.

      I was one of the people who wrote Ricochet and told them I'd sign back up if they re-lit the network. I travel to work in multiple cities they serve, so it's a great way to keep my main computer on the same networking paradigm without using a ubiquitous 56k provider (one of which also went tits-up on me in the last year...).

      For purely non-mobile applications, though, if you have a choice between this and a cable or LOS wireless service at the same or lower price, you are right to go with that. You will get higher throughput. (I've never liked any DSL offer, but YMMV). Until we see what kind of service organization the new company builds, and what the stability looks like, you can't expect them to be any better or worse for downtime and technical support than any other network provider.

    • Ricochet is not a good replacement for Cable, DSL, etc. Ricochet IS NOT fixed wireless and it does not work well if you remain stationary.

      The nodes have about a 1/8 mile coverage area and are line of site. This isn't a problem if you are driving down the road and you pass under one of their antennas every 10 light poles, you'll go in and out of coverage and the modem will deal with it.

      If you are sitting at a desk with your ricochet modem you are either in or out of coverage all of the time and considering how small the cells are unless your desk in on the sidewalk under a light pole you are probably out.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think you're on drugs.

        Where I live there's only 24kbps dialup (phone lines suck because SBC is a big fat monopoly) Ricochet always worked for
        me (except when I made mistake in my ppp setup),
        and gave me 88kbps serial and 200 kbps USB.

        I can't wait.

      • This doesn't sound right to me. It would be hard for a wireless service to succeed, if one of their requirements is that you drive while using the network!!

        Ricochet service is a radio service, it doesn't require a line of sight (that would be something line Irda).

        But I agree with you that it's not fixed wireless, but mobile wireless, based on industry definitions of those terms.
      • You really don't have any idea what you'e talking about, do you?
      • by gig ( 78408 )
        I used Ricochet inside a tank-like commercial building with aluminum ceilings and got the highest connection rate. This was in North Hollywood. When I signed up, the guy said the biggest myth about Ricochet was that it was only good outdoors, or while you were moving. It can do that, too, but if your house or apartment or office was in a coverage area, then it will likely work fine.

        I even used it in my house right on the edge of San Francisco, and used it coming over the Bay Bridge from Oakland, and it got a signal right as we came off the San Francisco side of the bridge, so San Francisco seems pretty well covered. There are like 17 big hills here, so you can put stuff like this on top of the hills and get everybody.

        Even if you use it indoors most of the time, it's still a great deal. You don't have to hook your house or apartment up to the Internet, just hook yourself up with a PC Card in your computer. Taking it to the library was really great, or working at a coffee shop or whatever.

        I just got a new PowerBook, and I keep looking at the PC Card slot and wishing there was a working Ricochet modem in there 24/7. I used to think I'd just use Ricochet forever myself, combined with 802.11 when I bump into a network. Between the two systems you can go to a lot of places and be connected without having to fall back on the phone modem or regular Ethernet.

        I don't think there's anything wrong with having two different systems, either. Eventually, they'll fit 802.11 and Ricochet onto one chip/card and the computer could use whatever is available automatically. In the meantime, if one system doesn't scale well enough or has some other problem (like Ricochet is having now), then the other fills in the gap. Seems like some people think that they have to be against Ricochet because they like AirPort.
        • I used Ricochet inside a tank-like commercial building with aluminum ceilings and got the highest connection rate. This was in North Hollywood.

          You were lucky. As I said the cells are small so you are either in or out. Contrary to what some other poster said the frequencies Ricochet uses (2.4Ghz and 900Mhz) are line of sight, but do have _some_ building pentration.

          When I signed up, the guy said the biggest myth about Ricochet was that it was only good outdoors, or while you were moving.

          That is exactly what it was designed for. If a sales dood told you diferently his was either misinformed or he lied.

          It can do that, too, but if your house or apartment or office was in a coverage area, then it will likely work fine.

          The important word there being _if_ since the cells require 5 radios for a 1 square mile coverage area they are mostly located along main streets and commercial areas. It wouldn't be cost effective to put radios all over residential neighbohoods since that isn't the target market.

          I even used it in my house right on the edge of San Francisco, and used it coming over the Bay Bridge from Oakland, and it got a signal right as we came off the San Francisco side of the bridge, so San Francisco seems pretty well covered.

          That's what they want you to think. Again, the coverage areas are very small so they put them where people will notice. If you live in one of these places it will make a good fixed wireless solution.

          There are like 17 big hills here, so you can put stuff like this on top of the hills and get everybody.

          Ricochet doesn't work that way, it uses little radios attached to utility poles. Hills and such aren't a big issue since the cells are so small.

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      • >>Ricochet is not a good replacement for Cable, DSL, etc. >>Ricochet IS NOT fixed wireless and it does not work well if >>you remain stationary.

        While I'll agree that it might not be a good 'replacment' for DSL or Cable I used Ricochet 128K on my stationary home OpenBSD nat/firewall for about a year with great results.

        Since the phone lines in my apartment complex failed the dsl qualification tests and the complex was locked into a contract with some small time cable provider that didn't offer cable internet, Ricochet was my only choice for somthing that even resembled broadband.

        Hooking the modem up via USB I consitantly had 200K+ download, access was overall reliable and served as the internet connection for my home network of 5-7 computers and servers.

        Occasionally I'd even take it to work with me and hook it up to my laptop there, again sitting stationary on my desk, with no problems.

        Other than the occasional drop off during bad weather for short periods of time I seemed to have higher uptimes than most of my friends on cable and dsl services.
    • where I live in Laguna Niguel, ca... its REALLY hilly... Not to mention the fact the apt complex I live in is kind of old...

      I am too far from pacbell to get DSL... (dialup is pretty bad on these lines... forget online games... even ones that are alright via dialup...)

      Can't get cable modem due to the fact adelphia uses a shared satalite dish per building and is selling that to us as cable (minus half the channels we would get on normal cable)... So I do not even have a direct cable line to my apt.

      No isp's close enough that sell microwave wireless... but it does not really matter considering EVERYTHING is in the way anyways.

      Satalite is an option but cost to entry is too high... not to mention I live in an apt which makes it a little hard to install the dish.

      Ricochet was awesome! I was getting speeds around 180kbps (22-23k a sec... not bad) with okay latency. (between 100 and 200ms)

      beat the heck out of dialup anyways :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is most excellent news! I'll be able to use ricochet on the The Linux Car [] again. It makes the dashboard PC worth doing again. Without 'net access it's just another carputer / MP3player / glorified DVD machine.

  • by Lokni ( 531043 ) <reali100@chapman ... du minus painter> on Monday November 05, 2001 @07:00PM (#2525089)
    Let's just hope that Aerie comes to its senses and doesn't grossly overprice the service. For those of you that advocate 802.11B networks to replace something such as Ricochet: 802.11 works in densely populated areas where things were built up instead of out. (Examples would be San Francisco, and most definitely New York) On the flip side, places that grew out such as Southern California and 802.11 network is useless because without a sophisticated directional antenna, and/or illegal power outputs all that's going to be on the network is a few of your neighbors. Ricochet was a godsend to those of us that wanted to sit at the beach, visit the park, go to the coffee shop, and commute down the freeway while connected. My dad is a regional sales manager and spends all day driving. With Ricochet he was able to order stuff for his customers from his laptop mounted in his truck and he had access everywhere he went. Now he does it over the phone. People say 802.11B rocks, but unfortunately it will never be feasible for a Wide Area public network.
    • 802.11 works in areas the grew outward as well. You can't simply put one tower to serve the world you have to spread your PoPs out to saturate your coverage area. While it is true that 802.11 is line-of-sight with proper location of access points you can still use the Internet from the beach or the coffee shop or even while driving. Ricochet put up many access points atop light poles in major cities. Had they not done this they would have never had the coverage they provided. Cellular phone companies use many towers to service a given area also. It is all the nature of RF.
    • 802.11 doesn't work well for mobile apps?

      I beg to differ: []

  • Hardware? (Score:3, Informative)

    by eracerblue ( 473104 ) on Monday November 05, 2001 @07:20PM (#2525170)

    Unfortunatley, much of the hardware that was developed for Ricochet has been discontinued. Hopefully the AirCard 400 can be brought up to speed again. []

    Although it may be tough, with GPRS, EDGE, 1xRTT gaining ground around the world. Word on the street is that Telus Mobility [] (Canadian) will have 1xRTT up for Q1 next year.

    This bad boy [] can run up to 150kbps on only 1xRTT.

    Just wait until 2x and 3xRTT hit the market.

    What I'm still trying to figure out is if ONE standard has been chosen for REAL 3G/UMTS. The recent AT&T adoption of GSM/GPRS would suggest that WCDMA is not the way to go?? anybody?

    • Re:Hardware? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zigurd ( 3528 )
      There are two main flavors of 3G: WCDMA/UMTS and CDMA2000. The standards are at [] and [], respectively. Even though the 3gpp site looks like it was put together by 6th graders, 3gpp is by far the bigger, more influential organization, and WCDMA/UMTS by far the dominant 3G standard. But CDMA2000 (3gpp2) will be viable in the U.S., Korea, and a few other places.

      The current dominant standard, GSM, is evolving toward WCDMA/UMTS. This is the upgrade path all GSM and most IS-136 networks will take. GSM/GPRS uses the same data infrastructure and protocols as WCDMA/UMTS. Oddly enough, GSM is more different from WCDMA/UMTS than IS-95 (CDMA) is from CDMA2000. CDMA also has some technology advantage over GSM. But it's kind of a Betamax thing: it is better to be widely used than it is to be better technologically.

      Both 3G standards use CDMA technology, but they are not compatible. Maybe there will be dual mode radios that will be cheap enough to work on both kinds of networks.

      Anybody know what iDen's upgrade path is?

      How do I turn off the redundant things in the square brackets?

    • Absolute portable bandwidth isn't all that interesting anyway. It's only when the bandwidth is cheap enough to make casual, spontaneous use accessible to most that wireless applications will take off. If it costs you sixteen cents per second to feed that 32kbps file at full tilt, streaming a movie to your backseat costs US$5000 - US$6000 and wouldn't be worth watching anyway. Maybe you should've just gotten great seats at the opera.


    • Re:Hardware? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vought ( 160908 )
      Interesting post - but someone already paid for the Ricochet deployment, while 1xRTT and other 2.5-3G technology has yet to be deployed, rolled out, paid for, etc.

      With voice revenues thinning, I doubt the cellcos will be able to subsidize all this data buildout with voice. They lost that critical mass months ago.

      Ricochet may be back, and with only 8.5 million and paltry operational costs (as long as the circuits stay up, the Ricochet NOCs can be run by TWO people), it'll take nothing for them to begin making money and possibly deploying the .5mbps Ricochet that was under development once upon a time.

      Then there's the National Semiconductor Ricochet chipset that was almost done....
  • After Ricochet shut down, I had no reason to stay in the bay area. At least now there may be one redeeming quality in the valley.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    which is *supposed* to be way ahead in the mobile comms stakes we have 3G, which is unlikely to ever be deployed due to crippling prices paid by operators for licences.

    We should just admit it. Europe sucks for wireless data services and the situation is unlikely to change for a long time.

    Ah well never mind. I can always have GPRS which gives me 24kbps for £15ppm for a 1 megabyte allowance, then £5 per additional megabyte. Makes reading slashdot expensive :-(

  • by SimHacker ( 180785 ) on Monday November 05, 2001 @08:59PM (#2525557) Homepage Journal
    I'm a long time Ricochet customer, and reluctantly switched to a CDPD modem after they shut down. CDPD is horrible -- extremely slow at its best, and usually much worse. It must be really low priority relative to voice traffic, because my cell phone conversations usually don't drop out and hang up all the time like CDPD always does.

    I had one of the old Ricochet modems years ago before there was any security on the network. You could list out the names of all the other radio modems and poll top boxes that it could see. The pole top boxes had the names of the street intersections or buildings where they were mounted. Then you could dial into any of the pole top boxes, and remotely send them AT commands, to list out the other ones they could see, and walk around discovering the network that way.

    But then my van was stolen, and my original Ricochet was in it, with a "Big Brother Inside" sticker on it. I immediately called Metricom and asked if my modem had been turned on and reported in. It had, and they checked the logs and gave me the address of the pole top box in a dangerous San Jose neighborhood. I rented a car and drove all around the neighborhood looking for my stolen van, but didn't find it. But a couple weeks later the van did show up right around that neighborhood, totally stripped.


    • Hi Don!

      I was the TSE on the other end of the phone when you called to trace your van. I remember that call well. ;)

      Like you, I hope Aerie does something.... I got rather addicted to the notion of web access everywhere.

  • More blah blah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GlassUser ( 190787 ) <slashdot@glassus ... t minus language> on Monday November 05, 2001 @09:00PM (#2525558) Homepage Journal
    I've been watching Aerie for months. They've been saying they're going to buy Ricochet for months. I'm waiting on ACTION. I was a serious ricochet user before they died, and soon as they light it back up, I'll be cruising.
  • by d5w ( 513456 )
    Someone please double-check my reading of the press pieces:

    Metricom winds up $1G in debt, with creditors expected to recoup about a quarter of that when you count cash in the bank and bond interest; so, about $750M loss for creditors.

    Aerie acquires all the interesting assets of Metricom -- that is, everything unique that would cause investors to take the risk -- for $8.25M.

    Chapter 7 protects Aerie from the ~$740M difference.

    I know it's hardly a unique situation, but the numbers jumped out at me this time. It's such a great investment strategy: if you can just figure out how to get someone else to spend 100x what's profitable and then have them lose so badly that you can buy the interesting bits at a garage sale.
    • Well, you've read the press release correctly but you aren't reading what isn't there.

      Mertricom had a business model that for whatever reason, failed.

      Just because Aerie purchased the assets for $8.25 M doesn't necessarily imply they can immediately turn around and sell these assets for a profit of some $740 M as you've stated.

      I'm not privvy to all the details, but in almost all bankrupcys the court requires that assets be put up for competitive bidding. This is intended to protect the creditors who have a claim on the bankrupt firms assets, and insure that they receive the maximum possible return on their claim.

      This means other potential investors looked at the collection of assets and decided it wasn't worth what Aerie bid.

      I doubt Aerie is planning to liquidate these assets; they are probably hoping that they can either execute Mericoms original business plan better, or markedly improve on it.
      • Just because Aerie purchased the assets for $8.25 M doesn't necessarily imply they can immediately turn around and sell these assets for a profit of some $740 M as you've stated.
        Sorry, that's not what I meant. Rather: Metricom's failed business plan consumed $750M to get their infrastructure to where it is now. Maybe they were foolish and threw money away, or maybe that's just what it cost to build what they built in the time period in which they built it.

        My point was just that Aerie stands a much better chance of having their business plan work, whatever it is, given that their cost of "building" a working infrastructure is $8.25M+reactivation costs and legal fees. That's not a business plan that Metricom could have followed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ricochet was relit around ground zero after the attacks to give the workers internet access tag=owv []
  • I used it for five months before those cretins at Wireless Web Connect seriously ticked me off and I cancelled my account.

    The data transfer rate was bursty, latency was around 300ms, there were only a few sweet spots around the neighborhood that it worked well in, and logging in was a slow pain in the ass.

    But it was so unutterably cool to be tooling down the road with my brother in his car, have a question requiring web access to answer, and whipping out a Compaq iPAQ and getting the answer in a minutes time.

    I can't believe cities wouldn't kill for the capacity to install wireless security cameras just about any place they choose, and have live police and fire video feeds available for each fire truck/police car in the fleet, as well as having internet access for disaster recovery personnel.

    It just breaks my heart seeing those lonely little Ricochet boxes sitting up on light poles with no one to talk to. This is a case where I think the feds should have stepped up to the plate and bought the damned thing to keep it running, and expanded the system for all major urban areas.

    What I really hope and pray for now is Teledesic. I have no idea how viable they are as a company at the moment, but a constellation of low Earth orbiting high speed Internet satellites is just too sweet to not lust for.

    I bet there's a whole bunch of people overseas in the armed forces that wishes it were operational too.
  • Ricochet went through about a billion in VC money, and Aerie is getting it for $8.25. That's got to be the best bargain since Manhattan Island.

  • What killed ricochet (Score:5, Informative)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:09AM (#2526631) Homepage Journal
    I came into the company at a time when the .com boom was just starting to happen. I was young and didn't quite understand business politics yet, so I thought it was right to point out when things are outright ripping off the customer or in the very least preventing the company from dominating the market. My "self rightousness" cost me my job.

    You see my freinds, the ricochet development cycle really ended after the first modem was introduced. Sure it got smaller and faster, or so you think. The ricochet was allways capable of 128kbps speed. There was a s register that could change the modem speed to that maximum rate, but unless you were transferring from ricochet to ricochet at a distance of 100 feet or less, you would never see 128kbps from their network. This is because the poletops were set at 9600baud.

    Now to understand how you can get 28.8 from poletops set at 9600 you have to understand how the ricochet network works. Basically you are surrounded by these poletops, all shooting out bits at 9600 baud, they are multiplexed together by your modem and combined to get the desired bandwidth. Thus 9600 from 3 poletops would give you 28.8. Internally people who knew about this and thought it was wrong were fired over the years. There was a lot of them trust me.

    Whenever a new modem standard like 33.6 or 56k came out, metricom would release a new "Modem software upgrade" that "contained new code!" that would magically turn your 33.6 ricochet into a 28.8 one. All it did was change the default setting of that S Register, maybe some new stuff was added, but thats about it. Nothing really magical or fancy, they fired all the real engineers that created the modem in the first place long ago. All that was left was a skeletal crew that could never really improve the internal electronics design.

    When they were "Upgrading the Ricochet Network!" this was nothing more than more smoke up the ass of ricochet users. The poletops speed was simply set from 9600 to anything higher. Just a stupid S register that was allways there.

    I think Ricochet's real downfall wasn't the technology, when it was introduced allmost 5 years ago, it was capable of delivering 128kbps service. So the failure can only be found in the strategy used by the marketdroids. $20@month for 128kbps wireless internet service vs $20@month for a standard 28.8 isp would have sold a lot more modems than the $40@mo ricochet $20@mo standard ISP model that they took.

    They did do an amazing job creating the network, just a shame that they never put that same effort into people that acually understood the internet market. People have allways gone with the cheaper ISP simply because they want to save money. Anyways I hope no heads roll from my comment.
    / \
    I I
    I R.I.P I
    I 2001 I
    • Your comment sounds pretty bitter, and also pretty false. The rollout of higher speeds was more than just "changing an S register" and I am quite certain that one connects only to one poletop at a time. The big boost in speeds came from a combination of a switch from 2-level to 4-level FSK signalling, and the addition of 2.4/2.5 GHz channels to the poletops for backhaul. With the old ricochet, the poletops and client radios used the same frequencies, forcing the client radios to go quiet while the poletop was relaying packets - with the new ricochet, the poletops communicated in a different band, preventing this problem.

      Are you sure you got fired for your self-righteousness?

      • You sound like you're trying to get me into a flaming inferno,

        With the old ricochet, the poletops and client radios used the same frequencies, forcing the client radios to go quiet while the poletop was relaying packets

        Uhh that is so utterly incorrect (insert your favorite weakest link comment) The radios do not go dead when the poletops are communicating...

        Ricochet works on spread spectrum frequency hopping between 900-914mhz and 916-924mhz. Every 25ms the radio's switched frequencies so there wouldn't be any collisions.

        I am quite certain that one connects only to one poletop at a time

        Ok problem with posting your resume on the net is people can see where you've worked at. Nowhere in your resume do I see the words "Ricochet" or "Metricom" I'm not trying to knock your geekyness, but I don't see anying there to make you a professor on the subject. I worked there, i'll let you guess what I did, i'm not saying but it was high level geek stuff that anyone with an IQ under 130 could not do.

        Now going back to that S register... I believe it was ATS304=115200 that would correctly set the ricochet to it's maximum speed. Go ahead, I see the older ricochets at flea markets all the time why don't YOU buy a couple and dispute my claim correctly without using assumptions and false accusations.

        There was one technical reason the ricochet was never introduced at its highest speed come to think about it. At the time most computers still used 8250 UARTS for serial communications. 16550 were coming out but did not become standard fare until MMX came out.

        Your comment sounds like marketdroid drivvel.

  • a company which, much like every other company in this space, who is having trouble raising next round because of massive capital dumped into network infrastructure being turned into pennies is now acquiring other networks which previously managed to bankrupt themselves? hm.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?