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Mega Public WAN In Sydney 162

Chris Meder writes: "As posted on CFGN - The Nation , gibed by the recent unreasonable price hikes in Broadband connectivity in Australia, which come already after a strained relationship between Broadband users and the major telco/ISP Telstra BigPond Internet, a group of people in the largest Australian metropolitan city of Sydney have decided to form a city wide amateur wireless network. The team behind this clever idea have also put up a detailed graphical database of people interested and are still looking for more numbers to get this off the ground." This last part reminds me of the Global Access Wireless Database, as featured here. Update: 01/23 18:53 GMT by T : Reader Peter Mann wrote to point out that "there's a mailing list for a similar wireless project in Sydney at http://sydney.air.net.au."
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Mega Public WAN In Sydney

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  • cripes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frothy Walrus ( 534163 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:46AM (#2886284)
    i read that as "Mega Public WANG" at first.

    hey, it's the Australians. you just never know.
  • by SonCorn ( 301537 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:46AM (#2886285)
    Are they just going to buy a line from whoever runs the main line linking .au to the rest of the world? is that Telstra? I probably don't understand the situation, but how many companies are there in Sydney that you can buy an internet pipeline from? Just some random thoughts on the subject. Any answers?
    • Well, the link didn't say anything about connection to the Internet as a whole, it seemed to focus more on creating a "humongous LAN".

      Of course, they'll probably get Internet access somehow, whether it's buying a line legitimately or piggybacking on the broadband connections of the few people on it who still buy them.
    • by arsaspe ( 539022 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:06AM (#2886359)
      Telstra isn't the only internet backbone provider in Australia... They are the largest, only because they are the dominant phone company.

      There is also Optus, who provide excellent service and are slowly taking over Telstras business.
      Ozemail/UUNet, sucky, overpriced, but still alive and kicking
      Primus - Small, but I'm pretty sure they have there own link
      There was also one.net, but it recently went broke
      • Also remember AAPT, which have every single Victorian Government link (or did), as well as a few other major links including Connect.com iirc. Also, Optus has the Southern Cross Link + the AARNET (ATM connection between every uni in Oz).
      • Primus - Small, but I'm pretty sure they have there own link

        Primus use Southern Cross for some international traffic and split the rest between Optus & Telstra. They run their own exchanges (mainly for voice) in at least Sydney & Melbourne.

        Optus has been spending a small fortune putting fiber between capitals and some regional centers to then onsell to the other telecoms and really cut into Telstra's market.
    • It's a WAN (potentially) allowing communications across Sydney, not access to the internet. Useful for chatting to your mates, not surfing the web (unless someone sets up a gateway to the internet).
      • i can imagine that people with optus@home cable could do the gateway as thats unlimited... however the gateway would really get hammered, i wouldnt be surprised if their were a few gateways on the network but people didnt tell anyone thaty they had a gateway setup at home.. thus they personally get internet wherever they are in all of sydney.... sounds wonderfull though ;)
    • Their provider is MCI.

      look here [wildroad.com]
  • I commend them for their efforts. This is so much like the spirit of Free software -- if you don't like the way it's being done, then do something about it.

    Great idea, really -- only one person has to get really big files across the wire and then they all share them.

    I predict we'll see a lot more of this if the price of bandwidth doesn't come down soon...

  • Ack! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:51AM (#2886313) Homepage
    Sounds like an excellent opportunity for an unscrupulous individual. Sounds like a security cesspool to me.

    Maybe I am too jaded. Maybe there is hope [ibm.com]!
    • How is it any different to a large DSL install base? You just need to make sure that whatever device people are using to connect themselves to this WAN does sane things like not spewing SMB out over the wire(less). Besides, you had exactly the same issues recently with enterprising geeks cruising around finding open 802.11 sites and that's hardly killed 802.11.

      • Re:WAN Security (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Catbeller ( 118204 )
        I have to agree with your last point. Despite all the panic, hackers really aren't doing all that much damage. There aren't enough of them, I think, of the proper idiotic mindset.

        The internet existed for years as a network of trusted participants, exposed to attack, but somehow it never was inconvenienced much by such things.

        Let's try building the Alternet, and see what happens. As you say, nothing much so far.
        • The internet existed for years as a network of trusted participants, exposed to attack, but somehow it never was inconvenienced much by such things.

          ...and back then the proportion of people on the network that knew what they were doing, and would therefore have been able to do serious damage, was alot higher. These days the vast majority of so-called hackers are just script kiddies. They're annoying, but do not pose a serious threat.

  • This isn't the first (Score:5, Informative)

    by yobbo ( 324595 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:57AM (#2886327)
    Melbourne has had it's own wireless network running, as have other cities in australia. Visit air.net.au for an idea of other projects which have been going for much longer.
  • by chabotc ( 22496 ) <chabotc @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:04AM (#2886351) Homepage
    What could you _realy_ do with a network like this? It seems obvious that a lot of nodes will go on / off, packets will get droped, and the optimal routes will be ever changing.

    Would a good BGP routing setup deal with this? Preferable you would even setup multiple outbound gateways (thru ip-masq if need be for adsl/cable outbound routes)

    Also a nice amount of squid clusters could realy help out here..

    I think that if you would release a complete high-tech network design on this style of setup, you could truely create a decentralised, flexible and unstopable network.

    Now imagine, if they would link up a lot of outgoing gateways (cable, adsl thru ip masq), and allow notebook users to link up @ any location in the city thats within the area covered.

    Add to this some nice ftp mirrors, BBS style websites, and you would have a hackers dream ;-)
  • Look here [wildroad.com] for information on the Sydney LAN.
  • by wildcard023 ( 184139 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:06AM (#2886358) Homepage
    None of this 'we can't make any money on broadband' comes as too much of a shock to me. I mean, we've all known all along how little (if not negative) any given broadband connection pays.

    Say I go home to my cable modem and suck down 2 gigabytes of data on my unmetered line. This isn't so unreasonable technologically. Maybe it'll take me a while to do, but hey, it's not that much of an issue for me. On the other hand, my ISP is now not making any money on me this month. ISPs depend on people getting broadband and looking at a few web pages just like all-you-can-eat sushi places depend on people ordering a few pieces and maybe some maki and going home.

    As downloadable media becomes larger and more proliferic, we're likely to see more and more ISP's either closing down, raising prices, or capping/metering transfers to survive.
    • Thing that puzzles me is this: why does 2 gigs of transmitted data cost more than a meg? Do transmitted packets really cost all that much more, or is it cost accounting, i.e. nonsense?
      • Because if you have a thousand users who each transmit a meg a day and say, a couple of gigs a day every so often, you need a lot less infrastructure than if you have a thousand users who all transmit a gig a day every day. You need bigger pipes and better routers at pretty much every step of the way.
    • As downloadable media becomes larger and more proliferic, we're likely to see more and more ISP's either closing down, raising prices, or capping/metering transfers to survive.
      We're also likely to see/need a paradigm change in which people - including ISPs - don't have to pay by the byte. 'Course, that'll probably only happen when consumer-level hardware gets pipes fat and fast and automagical enough to handle global-scale networking without needing to be babysat by humans.
    • The only problem I have with rate caps is if they aren't progressive. As long as the rate limits start to kick in after I hit, say, 70% of my monthly data limit, its cool. Then when I hit 90+ it drops again and stays there until next month (or I go to their website and pay for some more bandwidth, which immediately removes my cap).
    • Say I go home to my cable modem and suck down 2 gigabytes of data on my unmetered line ... my ISP is now not making any money on me this month. What absolute bullshit. Your ISP's costs are fixed, not mettered. Typical measured costs are hovering around one cent per ten megs, but that might just mean that people are not moving as much as they could. In any case it's irrelavent.

      What does it really cost to have that network? The Electric utilities seem to do well with much greater capital investment off less money than the phone company collects from you. Think about it.

      Now figure the costs of a wireless network, where the only thing to maintain are a few repeater stations. Oh wait, that's the topic setting up a community owned wireless network to avoid rape by telcos and trolls like you.

      • Unfortunatly your wrong about the ISP's metered costs here, at least in Australia (that's what we're talking about isnt it??) ISP's pay a lot for their bandwith.

        Telstra owns a good portion of the pipes to the US (and rest of the world), and only a few years ago they owned them *all*. They charge $0.12/MB (+GST) to everyone, period. But now there are at least 3 other companies with pipe's into the country, so i dont know how much they charge, but telstra certainly hasn't lowered their prices lately! :(

        That's the problem, every ISP has to by bandwith from somewhere, and Telstra fill's a lot of the Australian wholesale bandwith market. So with the exception of of course Telstra Bigpond bandwith cost $$..

        Of course there are some exceptions, at least one semi-large isp here uses satellites to bring most of it's data in, and telstra lines to go out.

        I dont know how it is in the US (obviously not the same), but i would guess most contries are in similar situations. Since the US _is_ the hub of the net, that's where the cost comes, connecting to it!
  • Their internet access pipe gets a /.'ing before it can even get off the ground, there are gonna be a lot of screaming Aussies tomorrow! This brings a new meaning to DoS! A simple Slashdot linking will saturate all lines of communication with Australia.... Oops, I guess we did it again.
  • Need a large scale example of this working, and it might get replicated elsewhere in the world. Doing it wireless means that everyone invests their own share of the infrastructure cost when they get connected, and therefore a single entity isn't hauling around a huge pile of debt while trying to make a profitable business out of it.

    Good luck to these guys.

  • Now I can spread a virus across the WAN and cause everyone's start page to be goatse.cx!

    goatse.cx is the answer to everything, remember that cumquats.
  • Cool, but be careful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:14AM (#2886387) Homepage
    I know this is an amature/not-for-profit project, and I am clueless about Australian law.

    But, I'd highly suggest the core people responsible for the administration of this project incorporate and seek legal counsel. If you search around you could probably find a lawyer to help you pro bono. I definetely recommend this approach for everyone thinking about doing this sort of thing in the US (I know several articles discussing that very thing have been on Slashdot).

    There are significant risks to these individuals, both from individuals utilizing this service, and from the upstream provider who probably isn't aware that its bandwidth is being shared by an entire metropolitan area. When a user is hacked, or the upstream provider finds out these people are breaking the TOS lawsuits will fly.

    This is really cool, and I wish them all the best, just use common sense and get some legal advice.
    • Legal advice may not be necessary if they never share a broadband pipe, or even a modem, that connects to another ISP, telecom, or whatever.

      The idea I've always promulgated is this: build a new internet using the wireless tech. Eventually lasers or tightly focused beams can provide backbones through which local WANs can communcate.

      The Internet has been taken over by corporations and the guv'mint. The flimsy yet powerful excuses of hackers, child porn and terrorists were enough to get our doors kicked down.

      Damn the Internet, damn the law, and gawd damn the lawyers. Let's bring the joy back to our world again. Get a kilt and some blue paint. Time to moon the emmeny.
      • by "tightly focused beams" I meant tightly focused radio transmissions, a la the Pringlenet, AKA an 802.11 transmitter in a cylindrical waveguide that can bost the range from feet to miles.
      • Just like the regular internet, but 100 times as slow!! woohoo!

        Seriously though, the 'net in general isn't all that bad if you're willing to pay money for a 'real' connection (say a bussness class DSL or something.) It's just that you wankers want to pay $20/mo for unlimited unrestricted access to the net, and that's just not ever going to happen.

        And since you can't get it, your solution is to completly replace the net with something 'wireless' (because wireless is way cooler then wired, dispite the fact that it's also way slower, right?). I'm sure you'll save a ton of money that way.
  • Default route (Score:2, Insightful)

    Being able to network with all your neighbors is nice, but it wont replace broarband for downloading the latest game patches, mods, mp3s, divx's, etc.

    They could do a deal with an ISP or maybe hook up with something like APANA, but who would pay, and how would fees be collected? As soon as you start involving money, it gets messy. And not many people would be willing to donate their seperate Internet connections bandwidth for other people's default routes.
  • anyone in London want to start one up? ;-)
  • Internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by redback ( 15527 )
    As many people have assumed, it its typically not the purpose of these networks to share internet access, its just a big lan, and everyone has their own pipe, the idea is that you can share files, mabey play some games, all without any bandwith charges, and save your internet connection for things you cant get over the WAN
  • Shameless whoring (Score:4, Informative)

    by Boiling_point_ ( 443831 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:18AM (#2886393) Homepage
    Other private networks exist around Australia, as brought to the collective (and my) attention by [JEB] [slashdot.org] in this [slashdot.org] post a couple of days ago.

    Non-exhaustive list:

    Adelaide [air.net.au]

    Brisbane [brismesh.net]

    Gold Coast [xtreme.net.au]

    Melbourne [dyndns.org]

    Mudgee [hwy.com.au]

    Perth [e3.com.au]

    Sydney [air.net.au]

    Western Sydney [air.net.au]

  • I can just see the goatse.cx guy popping up on people's wireless devices while they're strolling through downtown Sydney...
  • Not Alone (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Dread Pirate Rob ( 75666 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:21AM (#2886407) Homepage
    Crikey - there's at least four just in Perth!

    Perth: http://www.e3.com.au
    Perth: http://www.innaloo.net
    Perth: http://www.perthwireless.net
    Perth: http://www.lwn.net.au

    Never mind all the others around Oz
    Brisbane: http://www.brishmesh.net
    Melbourne: http://melbwireless.dyndns.org
    Gold Coast: http://www.xtreme.net.au
    Mudgee: http://hwy.com.au/~bigmoe/wlan

    Just to name a few... Do some damn research you Monkeys! Sydney Wireless is just one of at least 20 separate wireless groups in Australia.
  • Great Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tyreth ( 523822 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:23AM (#2886412)
    Projects like this are in the spirit of open source, but even more in the spirit of anarchy [anarchyfaq.com]. It makes people feel that they have the power to live their lives, and be a partner in a great project rather than a pawn of someone else's project (as is seen in the business world).

    It also encourages co-operation, sharing (in the positive ways the internet does), and community spirit.

    If we could see more projects like this, perhaps internet (or the controls that ISP's and government have over it) will become redundant, and return to the loose connection of computers around the world that it once was.

    • I couldn't agree with you more. I consider myself an anarchist, and for that matter, I think open source as a whole is very much in the spirit of anarchy. Call it rainbow software if you will. I'm in the initial steps right now of trying to get a wireless community network project up and running here in Missoula, Montana. I'm going to form a non-profit organization and use that to try for grant funding to speed growth. I want to give everyone who contributes to the network (in either money or bandwidth) a real IP address, and encourage people to host. Sure, we'll have more bandwidth locally than out to the rest of the net, but so bloody what?! We'll create and host some great content right here. I will, at least. ;)

      Anyway, peace.
  • ..It's a MAN, not a WAN.
  • In 30 minutes, nothing changes.

    In 30 days, you'll see a little growth.

    In 30 months you'll see major progress.

    In 30 years it will all be filled in.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In brisbane there are 397 nodes, and 25 active interfaces.

    Not so much excitement as there was a few months ago, as people move to actually get links active.

    Also much of the excitement died down when a few people started getting polical and beurocraticalness++

    But that is needed as people need to deal with the government. Much of brisbanes success is because of its organisation, and some very helpful people.

    Organisation, and helpfulness is the key to making these things work(plus having a telco which likes to shaft everyone helps with peoples motivation ;) If it wasn't for heaps of hills in brisbane, there would be more links I'm sure. I've got my two cards, and lap tops, just need to get the pig tails and construct a couple of aerials.

    http://brismesh.org/ [brismesh.org]
  • by ryanisflyboy ( 202507 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:56AM (#2886744) Homepage Journal
    This is absolutly the future of networking. Wireless topology can be constructed so quickly that the types of networks described in the story will flourish. Already several cities around the world have this type of grass roots movment happening in them. The best part about it is that large corporations really can't do anything to stop them. Hopefully it won't be too long before a central repository for information regarding these growing networks springs to life. The speed at which these networks can grow is truly the most important asspect. I suspect in five years or less these types of systems will be so common that one could visit nearly any city with a population over 50,000 and connect to a network.
    • by yobbo ( 324595 )
      There is one immediate problem with these types of networks. Line Of Sight.

      I, along with many other you hopeful's (who can't afford australian broadband) planned on building a wireless network in my city of Adelaide. We had absolutely no trouble getting enough people to join, but the problem was that in suburban areas it is hard to gain line of sight to other people, because of things such as next door neighbours with 2 storey houses, and trees were also a big problem.
  • the largest Australian metropolitan city of Sydney

    Actually Melbourne is the largest city in terms of land area, which is more relevant in this case, although it has a slightly smaller population.

  • There are a bunch of other projects like this. Including my own Ashland's Wireless Internet Project (AWIP) http://awip.truffula.net [truffula.net]

    Also there's....
    http://personaltelco.net [personaltelco.net]
    http://seattlewireless.net [seattlewireless.net]
    http://bawug.org [bawug.org]
    http://free2air.org [free2air.org]
    http://consume.net [consume.net]

    a lot of these have been mentioned on slashdot before....

    They're cool though :) (hence why i started another one...)
  • Reminds me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ByteHog ( 247706 )
    of a similer thing in Seattle. http://www.seattlewireless.net [seattlewireless.net]

    It's too bad that I don't live close enough to help with it. That would be fun.
  • Nice work, all you Aussies...

    Anyway, who wants to do something like this in Calgary? Not because the 'net's too expensive, but because it's cool.

    Any takers? I'm willing to join.
  • Wireless is cute, but I still think that wherever possible, cheap fibre optic cables should be used.

    3M's Volition Series is an excellent example -- we used it to get 100 Mbps Internet [acc.umu.se] in our block.

    Combine fast connectivity with a local DMZ to which it is for free to connect and all data traffic within the DMZ is free, and you've got a success on your hands.

    Use wireless only where it is impossible to install fibre optics, but you will be amazed over how many tubes/pipes already present under roads et.c. which can be used with a permit!

  • Most of the internet traficc is cha, email, read gossips or journals, have a little research work...
    So if they make a big LAN, contract with some minor isp a connection to the outside net, mirror the most demanding stuff, monitor what people want and change those mirrors, they can have a good biz going on. Matter of fact isn't that what the majors do?
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:04AM (#2887065)
    In the UK: Consume http://consume.net/

    In Seattle: Seattle wireless: http://seattlewireless.net

    In New York: NYCWireless: http://nycwireless.net

    etc etc.

    For more info have a look at FreeNetworks: http://freenetworks.org/
  • does this mean we'll have a "million man wan" now?
  • A wireless WAN? So what? It's censored anyways.
  • Yes there is heaps of these organisations around Australia.... this proves how aweful the Australian broadband situation is.
  • Anyone interested in starting a project like this one in Quebec City?
  • It is still vapour-ware, but by the end of the year I expect to have a web based tool which will allow a user to see a map of a city in a web page, say "here is a good place for a node", click, click, submit.
    The data is sent to a database and the presented back to the uses over the web.

    Collecting wireless node locations would be an ideal use case.

    For more info, check out http://mapbuilder.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net].

    PS, Any developers who want to help out would be warmly welcomed.

The absent ones are always at fault.