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First National 802.11b ISP 144

JScarpace writes "The chairman and founder of Earthlink, Sky Dayton, will introduce his newest company today, a wireless ISP called "Boingo" which will resell 802.11b access being provided by smaller ISPs around the country. Sky hopes to build up Boingo the same way he built up Earthlink -- by buying or partnering with enough smaller providers to offer a national service." An overdue idea and a stupid company name. Course it'll never get to me... the downside of living in the sticks. Those of you in real cities may be one step closer to the dream. update yup, another duplicate. Pre coffee story posting should be forbidden. Ah well, maybe the flamers will get it out of their system early ;)
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First National 802.11b ISP

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  • sounds familiar (Score:1, Informative)

    by liquidsin ( 398151 )
    is this the same story [] that timothy posted not so long ago, or is it just me?
  • what with the state of play with WEP and wireless in general i guess anyone can harvest a few logons for spoofed ISP access , now where's my wireless card and laptop........
  • Dream? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @09:54AM (#2731594) Homepage
    one step closer to the dream.

    ...of sniffing all of my neighbor's traffic, rather than just that of the ones with enough money to buy their own access point.

    Security seems it would be an issue with this sort of setup. Anyone know how he's handling it?

    • I would expect they'll use some sort of user or MAC-based authentication, with a VPN client if they're smart.

      Starbucks' MobileStar network didn't take hold for well enough for me to see any 2600-style articles about the service, but I'm assuming everything was fed through a proxy server, which would likely mean no encryption.

      Using an encrypted VPN wouldn't be so hard for each of these clients, but you run into the problems of clueless users and serious computational muscle needed at the aggregation point for all these VPNs.

      RSA security [] has released a scheme for introducing floating keys to WEP's encryption, something which would strengthen the security quite a bit. They're saying it can be implemented through firmware upgrades in the access points and driver upgrades for most cards.

    • security isn't an issue. for those people expecting link-level security, dream on. it doesnt exist with ipv4, and it doesn't magically exist on 802.11b either. even if it sucks, you're silly unless you're using a higher-level security model (ala ssh).

      security is always your responsibility, not the hardware vendor, or isp, or anyone else. your responsibility.

      be empowered, take control of your destiny, use ssh. :)

    • Security seems it would be an issue with this sort of setup. Anyone know how he's handling it?

      Their website says it's VPN.

  • Wireless to me is ready made for all those places that have been left out of the higher bandwidth game. No wiring, no messing with the phone company, just contract an agreement to stick an antenna on the local water tower and rent a closet at the local city building du jour.

    Sit back and watch the subscribers sign up.
  • So, will one of the local partners be called "Oingo"?
    • As an Oingo Boingo Fanatic (and a Former Member of the Oingo Boingo Secret Society) I find this really offensive. I hope Danny Elfman and the boys sue Earthlink.

      BTW, To you younger slashdotters: Find yourselves some Oingo Boingo music. They were one of the most creative and varied bands of the 80's. Kinda punk\ska\earlytechno, even a country style song. Great dance and party music. (sorry for the shameless plug, but what the hell. They are still my favorites!)
      • BTW, To you younger slashdotters: Find yourselves some Oingo Boingo music. They were one of the most creative and varied bands of the 80's. Kinda punk\ska\earlytechno, even a country style song. Great dance and party music. (sorry for the shameless plug, but what the hell. They are still my favorites!)

        Sorry, but one of my goals in life is to stay as far away from the 80's as possible, especially the music :P
      • by Pfhor ( 40220 )
        Damn straight. Of course I think they should atleast license it or something of that nature. but IIRC correctly, they officially changed their name to Boi-ngo (or was that their last album of new music, not counting farewell?) so technically, it wouldn't be infringement or anything. Hell maybe it took so long for this to happen cause dayton is a huge boingo fan, and was waiting for the rights on the name to expire or something (been 6+ years now).....
      • They were one of the most creative and varied bands of the 80's.

        Hell yeah, plus the fact that their lead singer is an Academy Award winning composer who did (almost) all of the Tim Burton movie soundtracks like Beatlejuice, Batman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands and others (he was the singing voice of Jack Skellington), he wrote the Simpsons theme, Weird Science (whose theme is a good example of a Oingo Boingo song) and many many others []. Oingo Boingo is an amazingly innovative group that pretty much is impossible to fit into a genre. DesertFool said "Kinda punk\ska\earlytechno, even a country style song", I'd say perky goth big band rock & roll. It's kinda as if horns and electric guitars from the big band era married 80's rock, a la Stray Cat's marriage of Big Band and 50's rock. Throw in an utterly manic, over the top vocal style, and marinate for years... eventually morphing (remember Elfman was working with full orchestras and soundtracks during this time) into subtle and incredible turns on (and this is where I was going) the album titled simply Boingo, one of the best albums out there, quite possibly on my Desert Island Five.

        Now a wireless service?


  • by Schpoonk ( 243228 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @09:56AM (#2731603) Homepage

    Badly Overdue Implementation of Networking Given Out

    Ok, so relevant ones are boring. Surrealism ahoy...

    Big Orange Invincible Newborn Gibbon Observer
    Butt out! I Now Gyrate Openly!
    Bendy Octopus In Never-ending Girly Outburst
  • Ahh yes... and what else would they call it? CmdrTacoNet?
  • What's up with that name?!? Do new customers receive a pogo stick when they signup?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2001 @09:58AM (#2731613)
    Fellas (-who-are-complaining-that-this-is-a-repeat):

    There are 2 separate stories about wireless ISPs related to Earthlink. The previous story is about the announcement, by Earthlink, of a fixed wireless service that would use a roof-mounted dish to provide access. It's not clear it it would use 802.11b or something else. But the key seems to be that it's fixed.

    The other story (i.e. this one) is about Sky Dayton's announcement of a new company that will be some sort of aggregator for 802.11b service from various ISPs around the country, and provide mobile service (a la Ricochet/Metricom, which Dayton derides in the little miniinterview/PR linked to above).

    These certainly *seem* like different stories, don't they.
  • Sticks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rmadmin ( 532701 ) <> on Thursday December 20, 2001 @09:59AM (#2731617) Homepage
    I live 'in the sticks' (Iowa). The city I work in only has 30,000 people. It somehow managed to nab @home while it still existed, 3 wireless providers, and 8 dialup ISPs (Including Earthlink via Buyout). I live in a town of 3,000, and next april the DSL goes live, and will start to annialte the 3 wireless providers there (what a waiste). One of which is Prarie Engery Cooperative.

    Basically what they do is partner with all the power companies around here, and make deals to provide Dialup and Wireless. But somehow I don't see the math working out. They have 5 customers paying $50/month (ouch) for 128k, thats $250/month income. 128x5=1.5Mbit~. Obviously not everyone is on at the same time, so they probably are getting by with a 512K line, which in Norht Iowa is around $600 a month.

    Another ISP is offering 3mbit wireless... they only have 2 T1's, which is 3mbit roughly, so how can they offer 3 mbit to each customer? Oh, thats right, beacause their equipment only tags up about a 600k throughput! Sad.

    Anyway, I don't see how anyone can efficiently provide high speed access affordably in 'the sticks'

    • Ha! You think that's the sticks? I live in Vermont, in a town of less than 1000 (Bolton), have a >1000 ft long driveway, and I've had DSL for six months! We have an independent full service telco that has been very aggressive in rolling out DSL service. $45/mo for 128K up, 300K download. Absolutely no problems at all so far.

      You just need to pick the right sticks...
    • It is a process know as statistical multiplexing. All packet based networks us it. If with any internet connectivity you think that you are purchasing 100% of the bandwidth 100% of the time for anything more than 1 hop away then you are deluding yourself.
    • I live in a city that's about 4 years old. It was built out in the sticks, and at the time getting the big utility players out here was near impossible. So the city decided to run ALL the utilities themselves. A few headaches, but the switch they bought for the telecom just needed one card added and, viola, instant DSL to every home in the city (one basic city requirement was fiber to within 3000 feet of every building lot). The city charges $40/month for 640/256k and it's pretty sweet to be out in the sticks and still have decent connectivity. There is also a wireless 802.11b company in our area that has just started offering service in the last couple months. Overall, I like the choices I have here over what I had in my previous city (a suburb of Salt Lake City) which were dialup, Qwest DSL, or Sprint Broadband Direct.
  • by sporktoast ( 246027 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @09:59AM (#2731621) Homepage

    Course it'll never get to me... the downside of living in the sticks.
    I thought that was what the thrust of this article [] was. Something about it being easier to do in the sticks, what with a more predictible customer base, personal contact and service for clients, not having to ramp up to a HUGE base so quickly, ability to front-load all the investment costs, etc..
  • it's just the cliche, derivative logo that sucks.
  • *snort*

    Smells like Ricochet's bastard step sibling.

    But wait, here's a novel idea: Let's get several $mil from some VC's, put up this new service, and sell it at the same price as already established and more available cable and ADSL!

    They need to stick to airports and hotels and quit making it seem like a cutting edge idea.


    • ohhh, yes, what a witty and clever response.

      oops, it's cheaper to install than DSL and it potentially solves the connection problem for people who don't have cable or DSL available to them as options.

  • by buying or partnering with enough smaller providers to offer a national service

    so say for the sake of argument this company of his goes good and grows pretty well, then let's say Joe Shmoe wanted to start a similar company.. from the possible scenarios i can think of he'll either

    a) possibly (though most likely not) hit it big

    b) partner up with Boingo!

    c) fail and go out of business, and have his assets be bought out by Boingo!

    Ever since Verizon merged with 7 phone companies into one, service and PR has become awful with them... i guess the bigger they get, the more out of control they become
  • by carlhirsch ( 87880 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @10:13AM (#2731698) Homepage
    If this takes hold in a big way, I'm having a hard time imagining people adopting 802.11a outside of the enterprise space.

    802.11b seems suffficient for most applications which might have a net pipe upstream rather than direct local connections to servers.

    I expect we won't see people using 802.11a equipment to take advantage of the promised 54Mbits (more like 10 to 25 in practive and at a shorter range than 802.11b) until the 802.11g spec gets finalized. 802.11g will create a compatibility layer between 802.11a and 802.11b, which occupy seperate spectrum space.

  • Their theme-song should be "Dead Man's Party" from Oingo Boingo (popular 80's band similar to Simple Minds and Men at Work). It goes like this:

    It's a dead man's party,
    Who could ask for more?
    Everybody's coming,
    Leave your body at the door.
    (Leave your body and soul at the door).

    Great time to start this. Not only won't they be able to sell the company or IPO it, no one has money to buy the service.

    [Can't find the album? rent that 80s movie where Rodney Dangerfield goes back to college - Oingo Boingo is the band he has at the big bash he throws. . . and they sing the song]

    Good luck Boingo, you're gonna need it.
  • by Kostya ( 1146 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @10:22AM (#2731741) Homepage Journal
    I plan to set up a wireless ISP on the Washington state peninsula. Maybe they'll buy me eventually ;-)

    I don't really want to run an ISP, but when you are 5 miles up a mountain road with no hope of cable or DSL, you have to start getting creative. As it is, some guy down the street tried to convert his cabin (burned down and then rebuilt as a much nicer place) into an executive retreat. As a part of his master plan, he had QWest drag up some lines for high speed access (probably a T1 capable line). His plans fell thru, but they might be my hope for something better than 33.6 ;-)

  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @10:24AM (#2731758)
    I'm banking my money on two Satellite-modem up-and-comers. should have hopefully reasonably priced satellite modem access, even though the ping-times will be high (300ms+). Download speeds of 3Mbps. It's supposed to be available in mid 2002. But if it's like DirecPC, it will suck, big time, and everyone will get FAP'd all over the place. Nevertheless, it's my only real hope at this point. is supposed to be available in 2005. Low ping times (comparable to T1), super-fast throughput (64 Mbps), but whether or not it will fly (pun intended) is questionable, IMHO.

    • The next time you feel moved to complain about ping times, consider this: --lameness filter won't let me post mtr results, but consider 12% packet loss on 500 pings, average ping of 4766.75ms (best 23.70ms, worst 8128.24ms (yes 8 seconds)).
      Cox/Roadrunner in my little corner of Fairfax VA can be rather grim in the afternoon and evening.
    • I'm banking my money on two Satellite-modem up-and-comers.

      Err.. not quite. Having built satellite IP networks, there are limitations that will never permit satellite to come close to ground service. Inherent latency, finite slice of frequency shared across the entire north american continent (vs. shared in a 2-3 mile radius), etc. make satellite a facility of LAST RESORT.

      And then there's the whole cost of putting POPs in space, when they do just fine on the ground on a tower.

      Really, unless you're in Western Wyoming, there's no advantage with satellite.

  • Well, at least as far as fixed wireless access is concerned. Last time I checked, my local provider [] offered some pretty pretty cheap rates [] for synchronous 2 Mbps service. Hell of a lot cheaper than a T-1, that's for sure.
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Thursday December 20, 2001 @10:34AM (#2731809) Homepage Journal

    I currently live in a city of 250,000, and my broadband choices are ISDN and cable. Fortunately, I happen to live inside the small radius of digital-ready cable service, so I have decent connectivity.

    I'm getting ready to move to a small city in Nebraska, and my access options [] are completely amazing (to me, at least). Fifty dollars will get me 512k wireless or 640/272k DSL, both with static IPs and unfiltered inbound traffic. I was afraid that I'd be stuck with a 26400 dialup, but I'm actually getting a good upgrade for less money.

    Living in a small town doesn't have to mean losing service, as I'm pleasantly discovering.

    • It's interesting. Small towns actually have better access in some areas. They aren't as built up, running new cable (fiber or copper) is easier, and an ISP can become the only game in tow, which leads them to invest more in the business.
      • I think you're right. In my current city, there are miles and miles of congested fiber and a covered spectrum. Our new home is small enough that the providers can work with the telco and utilities, and there's no real competition for the airwaves.

        I'm becoming more excited about this move as the days go by. I never would've guessed that I'd have to go to a smaller city to get better technology. :)

    • I live in a large upper middle class (and more diverse then it's detractors admit) suburb east of Seattle. I am mere yards outside the wire length limit for DSL. My next door neighbor with cable modem says it normally sucks. I live in a telecommunications desert despite it's status as a burgeoning urban center.
      My Girlfriend lives 40 minutes east, in the Cascade mountains. The quaint villa there (she's on 3 acres, has 2 horses 1.5 chickens and, for the moment, 4 cats) gets 56k DSL that occaisionally seems to lose it's cap (thank you centurytell : ). Turns out, "the sticks" in her case is nestled across a major AT&T east west Fiber route.
      It sucks to live in the city : (
  • Stupid name, eh? (Score:4, Redundant)

    by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @10:35AM (#2731814)
    An overdue idea and a stupid company name.

    Hmmmm - who said that? Oh yeah, it was a guy who calls himself Commander Taco. ;-)
  • There was a network that had no strings and Boingo was its name-o! B O I N G O B O I N G O B O I N G O and Boingo was its name-o! BTW: Is it "it's" or "its" here? -Rick
    • Its.

      The real easy-to-remember rule is that if it's a contraction of it is, then it's it's. If it isn't a contraction of it is, then it's its. Just substitute it is in place of the word in question, and if that fits, use it's. Otherwise use its.

  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Thursday December 20, 2001 @11:01AM (#2731933) Homepage
    so I won't be giving him a dime for anything.
    • so I won't be giving him a dime for anything.

      Lets see if this equivolent statement gets moderated up to +4.

      Seriously, I don't like Scientology any more than the next guy, but it has no worse a history than most other religons, (it has never sponsored a Spanish inquisition etc etc). I am aware of how Scientology milks the people who subscribe to it for money, and how they try to suppress those who criticise it, but still - a knee-jerk reaction of "This company is run by someone of religon xxx, so f**k them" should make people rather nervous, and certainly should not be moderated up.

      It is the dictionary definition of "-1 off-topic".

      • but still - a knee-jerk reaction of "This company is run by someone of religon xxx, so f**k them" should make people rather nervous, and certainly should not be moderated up.

        You should have used "Jew" as an example instead of Catholic. That would have REALLY gotten people riled up, although it would have sent your moderation score rocketing in the other direction.
      • is IRS tax fraud. They are calling themselves a religion to justify their bilking of membes out of thousands by selling worthless services, and not paying taxes on what they sell. Religious and non-religious people alike can object to this.
        • So what, the Catholic church tortured people who disagreed with it, and still hordes huge amounts of wealth as people around the world starve. The point is that in any other scenario, criticising people on the basis of their beliefs is frowned upon, so why should it be rewarded on Slashdot with a +4 moderation?
  • here:

    Their business model differs from others in that they aren't building infrastructure. I get the impression that they just want to do all the "service" stuff. It's an intertesting approach, perhaps the biggest draw being a VPN available.

    Still, at $7.95/connection for one service tier, it ain't cheap.
  • Unless you are living in a pile of tree branches, I think you all mean "living in the Styx."

    Look it up.

  • Does anyone know of any 802.11 ISPs currently in New York. When Ricochet went down I thought that was the only option. Thanks
    • There is a very strong free wireless network in NYC. Currently there are approximately 30 working nodes, including Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. All nodes are maintained by volunteers and there is no charge to use the service. Many more nodes are going up within the next few weeks, and some members are working hard on trying to get more public spaces "heated up" with free Internet Access via WiFi. Some of the NYCWireless nodes are in Brooklyn, a few are in Queens, and some are in New Jersey - 10 minutes from Midtown Manhattan. Check out to learn more about the network. Check out to view a list of all active nodes you can access.
  • If this is a duplicate, where's the other one? Surely you don't mean the story about earthlink's fixed wireless service?
    This isn't about earthlink. Have some more of that coffee.
  • Ohhhh... Now I understand why Jud moved his lists from to!

    I hope you did a good deal in the sale, and keep up the good work: it is a appreciated.
  • There are already several companies in this space; some have been around for more than two years. Most started out by aggregating dialups, but all recognize that wireless Ethernet is going to reach critical mass at some point in the near future so they've been focusing on it in their business plans:
    • Practically every post on this matter misses the point. Boingo is combining aggregation of existing network points with software. Yes, software. Good old software.

      There are a ton of useful things that you can't do via a Web browser even with unreliable Java. All of these useful things for Wi-Fi require protocol-level decisions and interaction with software.

      Boingo's client has built-in VPN support to their public POP (i.e., bypass WEP, bypass lack of WEP, bypass security problems in local hot spots on their wired portion); it uses NDIS 5.1 to sniff local networks; etc.

      Where Boingo is going to make the market work is by opening up the networks to multiple players, of which they are just one. They will be the premier player (and certainly are at the moment).

      iPass is the only other player to have real software behind their aggregation. But it's not designed as strictly for the Wi-Fi customer and the various needs one has in that market.
  • The one service that gives you instant Wi-Fi access in hundreds of premium hotels, airports, coffee shops and other high-traffic public locations

    Which makes sense, 300 feet nodes wouldnt cover all my apartment complex, and they would still need a Internet pipe. Whats bad is almost everyone in our apartment complex shared a T1 that an ISP put it, and ran cable modems to each unit. Then the ISP went out of business for over expansion. But they made thier money off us. And no DSL, we are over 19000 feet from our CO. Because the telco didnt plan growth, we are only 2000 feet from the central office up the street, if we were only put on that one, we would have have 1.5mbit dsl.
    "There is no other Telephone Company" - Verizon
  • Without even reading the article, I bet this won't be even available in South San Jose, California.

    This is a place no high speed internet connection is available at all. Pathetic, isn't it? You wouldn't think this is the heart of Silicon Valley.

  • A DSL line in most places in the US is about $40/mo. An 802.11b hub with NAT under $200 fixed cost. A cafe or restaurant needs almost no help to do this -- just buy the line, pay the $40/mo, and reboot the access point if something goes awry.

    At $40/mo total cost, they don't need to bill their customers for this.

    If they don't charge their customers, then why does there need to be billing for this? And if there's no billing, there's no need for accounts.

    And if there's no need for billing or accounts, there's no need for infrastructure.

    Ergo, Boingo is a parasitic organization trying to figure out a way to charge for a problem it is creating.
  • I can't seem to find anything about it via Google, but this sounds similar to iridiums plan to provide calling service all over the world. Iridium relied on base stations that accepted the call and routed it onto the landline networks. They had a massive problem cutting deals with all of the these monopoly telcos (many of which are state owned in the developing regions of the country) and not losing their shirts in the process.

    I hope this turns out better!
  • I've been using an 802.11 provider for around 12 months now. Really!

    Of course, its the guy down the hall -- and he still hasn't figured it out. Seriously though, I see 3 unprotected AirPorts in my building. Actually, my provider is ADSL based, but when it flakes out, I'm only a quick switch away from... well... whatever they use. :) :)

  • What's the difference between this and what Sprint Broadband [] has offered and already quit offering. And my ISP, JORSM Internet [], has been working on supporting this for some time and believe do offer it to non residential customers already although there website don't say anything about it. Just thought it was wierd to hear about something on here that i knew existed for months.

  • I know everyone is focused on the sniffing/security aspects of this technology. I however, being an evil guy at heart amthinking, wow wouldn't it be easy to just get my own wireless card and flood the airwaves with random useless packets. At least with a guided medium you can trace the wire back or at least cut it. Hunting around for a laptop that could be anywhere is gonna be a lot harder and following a cable ( At thats hard enough already.) Imagine how easy it would be to do a DDOS now.
    • Most of the "free" (rediculous word great movement) wireless networks have diagrams on the net for DIY pringles can directional antennas. Dunno where you'd buy a signal strength meter for the frequencies involved, but I can think of three radio shops in my area that would tell me. Given that the users of wireless are usually in fairly open public spaces... I think it would be easier to find a wireless user given you don't have to, like, pick locks on telephone closets to get at the signal. All IMO
  • Okay, so here's another semi-dupe story. After all the flames, I have an idea on how these can be handled, since they happen A LOT.

    Simply create a new section, "Duplicates," like "Ask Slashdot (I Can't Find Google)" or "BSD (Is Not Dying)." Then if the article is found to be duplicate, an editor can simply move it to this section. Users who don't like duplicates can then exclude this section from their homepage.

  • In Austin, there's actually a company (Heartland cable) that offers wireless cable in the outlying areas, and also provides high-speed internet service over the same signal. Wireless is perfect for rural areas, because you don't have to run hundreds of feet of cable to service small numbers of customers. You just piggyback your nearest cellular tower and get them all in one go.
  • I had a great ISP, reasonable rates, 50 meg personal web space, UNIX shell account, etc. & the other thing....

    Then they got swallowed up by Earthlink.

    Services were reduced, rates rose. Now only 10 megs, no shell, not even scp. They moved everything to new servers and broke everybody's cgi scripts and screwed up a whole bunch of URLs and domain names. Where before I paid ~21 bucks a month before, now they want $24.95 for their premium dialup. Plus $1 for a paper invoice. Plus $1 because I won't give them my credit card number or (gasp) my checking account #.

    Nevermind that they totally screwed up my bill because they lost the records that I had prepaid for an entire year with my old ISP (Earthstink assimilated them after 9 mos). Then they send me overdue notices, threatening collection (for that which I had prepaid).

    Bybye Earthstink.

    But wait, I get to call a national, toll free number for tech support and sit on hold for hours listening to crappy music. O, Joy! (Heck, I can sit on the can for hours and listen to crappy music; at least I'll feel better when I'm done!)

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!