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Wireless Mania 153

burnsy and others sent in links to stories about 802.11b that are cropping up everywhere. The New York Times has one. (Well, two, actually.) Salon has one. InternetNews has a piece about Boingo, a new wireless start-up, that's also covered in this Forbes article. (The NYT article above also mentions Sputnik.) Both Boingo and Sputnik are trying to leverage the existing community wireless networks to speed their network build-outs. MIT's Tech Review has an interesting piece about a wireless start-up that has already tried and failed. Fixed wireless is also booming, according to an industry study.
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Wireless Mania

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  • bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Morphine007 ( 207082 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:01AM (#3112107)
    humbug... what a waste of time... I'd personally rather see more initiative in securing wireless networks, instead of proceeding in a definitely windowsesque fashion and just ship ship ship the damned thing... who cares if it's ready??

    • Re:bah (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aaron_Pike ( 528044 )

      I'd personally rather see more initiative in securing wireless networks, instead of proceeding in a definitely windowsesque fashion and just ship ship ship the damned thing... who cares if it's ready??

      Nah, it's a scam by apartment management companies: "Free internet access with every downtown apartment!"

      Look at it this way. Differently clued execs sell more wireless networks and related equipment. Differently clued people buy them. Clued people support them and make money. This could be the next economic bubble.

      • Look at it this way. Differently clued execs sell more wireless networks and related equipment. Differently clued people buy them. Clued people support them and make money. This could be the next economic bubble.

        or the second coming of the hacker golden age... heheheh... I agree with saintlupus, time to grab AirSnort and see what I can come up with ;)

      • I for 1 would like to see something help out the economic situation. If it proves to be a Technology, even better something cool to play with: bonus!
    • Re:bah (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This may be the best shot at ensuring free flow of information we ever had. He who controls the hardware controls the information flow. A network full of backdoors sounds very flow friendly to me.
    • I'm sorry, but I don't think that the network infrastructure level is the place for security to go. Ignoring 802.11 because WEP is ineffective would be like saying that Ethernet or TCP/IP are inherently broken because you can sniff any packet on the wire.

      We have to get the connections up and running first, though. Once you have the wire-level link up, *then* you can worry about security. Set up a VPN link through your personal firewall, or do everything over SSH port tunelling.

      Of course, a network with no users is inherently the most secure. It's also pretty damn boring.
  • Wireless. (Score:5, Informative)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:05AM (#3112133) Homepage
    Ah, what a time to have AirSnort. And I hear CompUSA is going to be putting Access Points on sale soon!

    • I've been waiting for those wap11's to go back on sale.. sometime before xmas they were all like $129 at all the major retail outlets.. then the price jumped up to $179 (i guess as people figured out they were useful, not just for a home wireless but all as a wireless bridge).

      There is no way i'm paying more then 129 for one of these, it's ironic the befs4w1 (dsl router/4port switch and wireless) is cheaper then the stand alone unit.. but then again i already have a switch and router .. so why buy that again?
    • Re:Wireless. (Score:2, Informative)

      by SDotter ( 463674 )
      WEP is not the most secure way of encrypting the
      data as it combines hardware and encryption.

      Therefore, I am using IPSec for my WLAN and
      the accesspoints are in plaintext-mode.

      By using FreeSwan on the gateway and
      ssh-sentinel on the laptops, the network access can
      be controlled by issuing and revoking certificates.

      Unfortunately, that's not the kind of
      software which comes with AccessPoints.
  • by Xafloc ( 48004 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:07AM (#3112146) Homepage
    Wireless is just fantastic. I love sitting down on the couch, powering up my Dell (no cables attached), and watching as I recieve my DHCP assigned address. Unfortunately, I only get 26% on the quality of my connection. After all, I am connecting to my neighboors D-Link 150 feet away :)

    Seriously, these people have not changed the admin password from "admin" in their Router, and they aren't even using WEP. Of course, I won't be the one to tell them they should :)
    • I guess this means we can look forward to people carrying large foldable/portable antennae along with their notebooks? Or mounting huge ones on their rooftops?

      So, you could have ilke 10 wifi cards each hooked up to a different access point, and collect the bandwidth up.

      Maybe we should just skip straight to peer-to-peer systems and make more effective use of this more distributed network?
      • From my memory, there are only three distinct non overlapping chanels in the 802.11b spec. So if your neighbors all chose the the equidistant chanels, you'll max out at three connections. But you'd probably do better looking for one good signal.
      • Beanie Hats (Score:2, Funny)

        by mmkhd ( 142113 )
        I guess this means we can look forward to people carrying large foldable/portable antennae along with their notebooks? Or mounting huge ones on their rooftops?

        The return of the Wi-Fi enabled Beanie Hat (TM)!

        I think these Lucent Range Extenders would look great mounted on a baseball hat...
    • by saridder ( 103936 )
      Well hopefully RFC 3118 (Authentication in DHCP) will be implemented soon, meaning less unathorized addresses passed out. I doubt your neighbors would use it, but it is avail for vendors to implement in their access points.
      • by stripes ( 3681 )
        Well hopefully RFC 3118 (Authentication in DHCP) will be implemented soon, meaning less unathorized addresses passed out.

        Ugh, what a stunningly bad idea. Now rather then having people stumble across your network and use it without getting in your way they come over have to run tcpdump, guess your netblock and DNS server, and pick an "unused looking" address. If they guess wrong one of your machines could be inaccessable.

        As I see it people using your DHCP server is doing you a huge favor, they don't get in your way, and they get logged with the IP address assigned, so you can later figure out what happened. Now all you will know is some mac address wanted a DHCP lease and was denied, lord only knows what IP address they picked out after that!

    • You might get better quality if you were sitting in their living room.

      Don't worry about telling them they should be secure, only weird hackers could get in with a advanced password like "admin".
    • i think you live next to my friend. i thought for second you may live next to me but i rembered i changed my password at least...

      i dont use wep beacuse will im pretty sure im the only one on my block with cable and a wireless setup. and what do i care if someone decideds they wanna use my connection to download pr0n?

      now and then i will run ethereal on my laptop with wireless card see whats going on and i never see anything other than my machines.
      • I used to feel the same way until I realized that encryption doesn't keep others from using your network; MAC address filtering does that. What encrytpion does is prevents anyone who happens by with a laptop from sniffing your traffic, including all your clear text POP3 and FTP passwords.

        And realize, there are lots of people [] going around looking for wireless networks [] to connect to.

        Needless to say, I have decided that 128 bit encryption is a must (along with MAC address filtering, of course). I'm glad I didn't buy my access point yet.

  • by 5u5h1 ( 564174 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:07AM (#3112149)
    Boingo sounds like a good idea, but what they really ought to do is make it available for PalmOS. There's already an 802.11b SD card available, and this could be the perfect application for it.
  • Meanwhile (Score:4, Informative)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:11AM (#3112166) Journal
    The Supreme Court is going to review [] the decision allowing NextWave Telecom Inc. to hold on to its spectrum licenses that were thought protected in the bankruptcy proceedings. This could delay the use of that bandwidth for as long as two years.
    • I'm not sure what bandwidth you (or the article you linked to) are talking about, but I'm certain it is not the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band that 802.11b uses. If it was, no one would be able to use 2.4 GHz cordless phones or microwave ovens in the affected cities. Keep in mind "wireless network" != "802.11b"
  • No killer app yet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jack Admiral ( 145760 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:18AM (#3112192)

    There still isn't a killer app for wireless access yet - either for cellphones, PDAs, or PCs, so I can't see wireless networks becoming successful. I can't imagine why one would use 2400 bps to connect when I can connect at 160 kbps at home unless you're on the road and can't use anything else. Probably the best use for wireless access are cellphones and yet even these haven't taken off. Of course, wireless networks would succeed if they were free which gives a 2400 bps/0$ (infinite) price performance ratio compared to 160 kbps/50$.
    • by Conspiracy Theorist ( 250373 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:36AM (#3112270)
      No killer app?

      Do you have dozens network drops in every room of your house or aparment? Does every conference room in your office building have a network connection for everyone in a max capacity environment? Have you ever surfed the web or checked your email while sitting on the front lawn, enjoying a summer afternoon? Wireless LANs themselves are the killer app.
      • Do you have dozens network drops in every room of your house or aparment?

        Why would I need dozens of network drops in every room of my house? My family has 6 PCs and laptops in different rooms spanning two houses (close together) and planning to add more PCs and yet we still use cables. We probably will stick with cables until wireless is cheaper and has better peformance and consistency. For longer distances, I'd rather dial-up to my PC at home even if I had to pay for an extra phone line. The only time I'd choose wireless is if I didn't have a phone to use in an isolated location in which case I wouldn't be really thinking of using my PC.

        Does every conference room in your office building have a network connection for everyone in a max capacity environment?

        From the articles posted, the wireless network seems to be more consumer-oriented rather than business-oriented. Most wireless services today target consumer applications - cellphones and PDAs. A wireless LAN is very useful but for widespread use of wireless technology, I still believe in a killer app. From where I come from, the killer app for the widespread use of cellphones was text messaging.

        Have you ever surfed the web or checked your email while sitting on the front lawn, enjoying a summer afternoon?

        If I were outside trying to enjoy a summer afternoon (which is pretty rare for me), I'd be reading a book. ;-)
        • Why would I need dozens of network drops in every room of my house?

          The point is that with one AP in your house (two or more if you have a really big house or wish to hide them in obscure places) you can have dozens of clients accessing the network from every room in the house. You also don't need to unplug and plug-back-in when you move your laptop from one room to another. How close are your two houses? Do you have a cable strung between the two? Some vendors APs allow you to configure two as a wireless bridge, connecting two wired networks. Wouldn't that be kind of neat?

          Most wireless services today target consumer applications - cellphones and PDAs. A wireless LAN is very useful ...

          Wireless LANs are what all the articles linked to in the write-up talked about, at least as far as I can see. Lots of colleges and universites have wireless LANs. Think about what you did on the network when you were in college. Wouldn't it have been cool to do that from almost anywhere on campus? Companies are using wireless LANs too. Probably more than you realize.

          If I were outside trying to enjoy a summer afternoon (which is pretty rare for me), I'd be reading a book. ;-)


          But, what if you had email to respond to or net research do, and it was a nice sunny summer afternoon. Wouldn't you rather do these things lounging in the grass under the warm summer sun than sitting in a cubicle?
    • 1-2Mbps at long range. 11Mbps at short range.

    • Where did you get 2400 bps from?

      802.11b supports a maximum transmission of 11 mb/s and scales down to around 1 mb/s at distance.
    • P2P is one of the killer apps.

      The worst part about Broadband currently is upstream is usually capped. With wireless, all of a sudden, your p2p transfers have the capability of being really fast on download and upload.
  • by Sapphon ( 214287 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:19AM (#3112201) Journal
    IIRC, there's a group in Australia who have been forming their own little wireless network with rooftop antennas. The trouble they have been facing is the amount of space between nodes, but they were well on the way to having a network between Melbourne and Adelaide (though several users in Albury/Wodonga were isolated in their own little network)
    • Yeah I remember....

      Perth: []
      Sydney: []
      Melbourne: []

      In fact, if I could be bothered I'd post a link for multiple community wireless networks in all the major cities in Orstraya.

      I think e3 has lists of all the Aussie sites anyway.

      Knock yourself out.

    • by Nessak ( 9218 )
      This group in Australia helped develop their own homemade helical antennas for there networks. Pretty cool stuff, as the antennas are pretty easy to make and cheap. (Here is a link to the page with instructions: cal/index.html)

      There antennas are basicly a peice of PCV piping raped with the correct amount of copper wire with a reflector. (Pie pan works well.) These things are mounted horizontaly in the direction of the other connection.

      Now here is the funny part. They started finding that the network would sometimes go out without warning. They went outside and looked at the antenna only to find a bird (Magpie I think) sitting on the antenna! This is one of the few cases I know where pirched birds have been responable for network issues.

      There used to be a great page with pictures of all this, but it appears the page has since been removed and all that remains is an ISP error page.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Me stupid! Me love wireless stuff! Me hates security! Me gonna whine alot when me got hacked!
    Me dont't care! Me loves wireless stuff!
  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:31AM (#3112249) Homepage
    All these electromagnetic waves everywhere might make our brains grow and more intelligent. So we might look in the end like the aliens from "mars attacks".

    And we all know that electromagnetic waves make flowers grow. At least light is electromagnetoc waves and flowers don't grow without light as you might know. So, all electromagnetic waves might be very very good for them.

  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:34AM (#3112263)
    I guess *that's* why AT&T Wireless laid off its entire Fixed Wireless division.
    • I guess *that's* why AT&T Wireless laid off its entire Fixed Wireless division.

      Odds they are still very committed to the fixed wireless market. They were just losing a bit of money and needed to get rid of the most obvious source of loss.
      I am sure that they added staff from other divisions. They just expect the new people to do there old jobs as well as new.

  • by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:38AM (#3112281) Homepage
    I had this great "million-dollar" wireless idea a few months ago that I quickly emailed to all my friends and got all excited about. The idea was to provide software and a service that would let anyone with a wireless access point set up a custom access server where they could easily charge for use of their bandwidth. Not just businesses, but anyone with a good network connection and a WiFi hub. Any wireless users that wanted to use the network could sign up to service where they could buy hours or credits. Then the local server keeps track of the time spent using its bandwidth and the proceeds are split between the server owner and the billing service. The idea is that instead of relying on "free" networks to sprout up, this would give incentive for people to open up their wireless connections by allowing them an easy way to charge for it (making them franchisees in a sense). Also it would give users a bunch more access points for reasonable charges.

    However, according to this quote from the TechReview article, I've got the business model upside down:

    One of the most surprising things we learned from launching our Internet startup was that providing wireless Internet service is really cheap. What ended up bankrupting the company were all the ancillary services we had to develop--credit card billing, technical support, the corporate Web site and the various security measures we had to put in place to prevent unauthorized use of the network by nonsubscribers. Organizations that aren't trying to make money providing wireless Internet service can do away with all of these measures and offer the service for free.

    It seems that providing the infrastructure is the cheap part (the part that I was trying to solve) and doing all those "extras" is where the costs come in. Doh! Was really excited about it for a while though...


    • Let me get this straight: They were charging enough to cover the cost of providing the service but not enough to cover the cost of running the business, and were surprised when they went broke? And this is a surprise to you, too? Weren't you paying attention about a year ago (do you even get this reference)? You really should stay out of the market if you don't understand this fancy-schmancy economics stuff. "Buy low, sell high" is not a new idea.

  • I'm wondering about the prospect using Wi-Fi to transmit streaming video or audio, perhaps to a car-mounted computer screen (like the head-rest TVs currently in top-end cars), would that be viable?
    Of course, the staff at Starbucks might get a bit suspicious if you just keep circling the block around their store until you've finished downloading your favourite espisode of Futurama... but you could email them and ask them to bring coffee out to your car *grin*
  • I've tried using [] and []. I even used to enjoy Ricochet. I was unable to connect to either free ISP because their node maps were either innaccesible or just wrong. I have visited the page many times and the node database has not worked for at least a year. At they actually have pictures of base station locations, yet when I have sat in immediate proximity to a base station, no signal at all is available. The problem with the anarchistic, volunteer, free wireless lan projects is that they do not, and perhaps cannot, provide even the most basic quality of service. It should not be easier for me to "hack" (and I use that term very loosly) into an unsecured wireless base station than to connect into a legitimate station. As well, the free base stations tend to be in houses and offices. Although I spend quite a bit of time in my house and office, that someone twenty miles away has a working wireless setup really does not amount to a hill of beans. I think that most of us here on Slashdot would give several major bodily organs to have true pervasive free wireless internet, if only in places like SOMA or SoHo. For even this pipe dream to sober up, we need to vastly increase the signal strength of the wireless access points. Instead of concentrating on building wireless ghettos, we should try to lobby our congress, and for you non-Americans your legislative bodies, to increase the broadcasting strength of our wireless access points (wap). Perhaps it might even be prudent to have two legally allowable types of waps. A legally non-open hub facing the current power restrictions and a hub open to the public, by law, that would have ten times the signal power. That would cause this movement to gain resonance.
  • I've been watching the prices of various wireless components for the tast year or so. Finally the price vs benifit point hit and I purchase a Access Point for $125 and a WiFi card for $42. The box arrived yesterday and all I can say is this 802.11b stuff rox! Maybe it's still the "neat-o" factor but I'm already trying to think of other ways to use this technology. Maybe my old 200MHz laptop will make a nice MP3 box with the MP3s residing on my Linux server. Maybe my neighbors would like to start a community WAN. This wireless stuff is fun....
    • So where did you get WiFi cards for $42? What make are they? Are you using them with Linux? Inquiring minds want to know....

    • Check your vendors site for a WEP patch, turn ON WEP (this will hurt bandwidth...), filter on MAC address, consider using static IPs for Wi-Fi clients, turn OFF beaconing on your AP. In addition change the default infomation on your AP and try not to use really descriptive strings with say your name in them (ahem). Something like "noneofyourbusiness" is a bad idea too - some turkey in my area has that one with WEP turned on and I'm VERY tempted to take him out ;-)

      Oh yeah, and I pray you didn't but a damned DLink AP. I've yet to figure out how to turn off beaconing on mine and the config program locks up my PC or the AP as often as it manages to make thc hanges I've requested! No ability to add an external antenna ability either. Grr!

      For some fun goto :-)
  • I took a look at Boingo's sites in Massachusetts. They're great if you spend a lot of time in Boston-area hotels, but otherwise forget about it. At this point, the target audience seems to be travelers, not cafe-frequenting locals.

    I don't know that my favorite local coffeehouses are going to spring for wireless anytime soon. I might spend more time at them if they had wireless, but I don't know that I'd drink that much more coffee. It's not a matter of being cheap so much as a matter of how much caffeine I can have in an afternoon before my hands start shaking. And plenty of other people are cheap. So, even if they had access to free bandwidth, there's not much of a case for encouraging wireless users to fill up their tables (unless those tables are empty to begin with, which is rare these days with so many people out of work).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet ( report on the latest PDA/mobile combo presented in Cannes at the GSM World Congress. See the pics at,2789,1371 12,00.html
  • Don't get me wrong, 802.11b rocks but the range is generally for shit. The box that I bought my AP in said that I would get like 200' indoors - my ass. More like 40'. It also said I would get 800' - 1000' outside which I find laughable. On the salt flats out west, maybe. I don't think you're going to see joe average setup AP's and wire up extenal antenna so that everyone else can use their connection and with the lousy range, this is what will have to happen.
    • Re:What about range? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lanalyst ( 221985 )
      I've been experimenting with different APs and cards - range issues seem to be related to the quality of the card, not the AP. The Cisco 350 for example seems to get a great signal most anywhere inside or out while other cards can't seem to maintain a good signal in the next room - all from the same AP. YMMV.
      • True, I've heard good things about Cisco and Orinoco. The flip side is that the Cisco 350 costs around $1000. Not exactly the great $150 equalizer that the evangelists would like for us to believe.
        • Several very good programs support it including Netstumbler and it will allow the use of an external antenna. If you use Linux then consider the cheapo' DLink which has a Prism chipset that will support Airsnort. It can accept an external antenna with a bit of soldering :-)

          So far as I can tell - it's not so much the card as it is the antenna. I own a DLink, Orinoco Gold, and Sony VAIO card right now. Using a crappy DLink AP (BIG mistake!) all of them work somewhat well but as range increases I can slap my antenna on the Orinoco or Sony cards and increase my signal reception easily. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more on the Orinoco card, get say a Linksys AP, and be happy. It really is a pretty neat technology. Portable too - my AP is going to BlackHat with me again this year ;-)
    • The range has to do with both the AP and the card. With the Cisco 350 AP you can get up to 100-mW output. I'm not sure what the output is for other AP's. Also the receiving cards do not all work the same.

      I believe that the Cisco cards are designed to give you the full 11 Mbps transfer rate all the way to the edge of the AP's coverage. Other cards step down the transfer rate the further you get from the AP. So at the same edge where the Cisco card is giving you 11Mbs another card may only be giving you 2 Mbps.

  • by lfourrier ( 209630 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @11:05AM (#3112438)
    ... all those community networks seems quite anti-american to me.

    (at least anticorporateamerican ;)
  • From the Internet Week article about Boingo:

    " Oren Michels, CEO of Wi-Finder, agreed.

    "It all boils down to: 'you get what you pay for.' A strong community network gets people to try the technology. But once
    you try it, it gets addictive. At a certain point, the community people will get tired of giving it away or the quality of
    service will degrade to the point where people are more than willing to pay."
    If only the RIAA would wake up and realize that Napster (et al) would work just about the same way for them: Like so many have been saying for so long, we'd LOVE to make micro-payments to download tracks from a reliable, high-speed, high-quality server... Oh well.. at least SOMEONE out there gets it...
  • One problem... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xamdam_us ( 524194 )
    One problem with 802.11b is that someone using a hand held 2.4 GHz phone can cut off the signal. If a person walks between an AP and a user it will cut right through the link.

  • Was working for a fixed wireless provider las year around this time. We had both an international division and a US one. First the very smart FCC people decided to auction the spectrum, you know "free-market" "competition results in the benefit of everyone" bs... so the spectrum was overpriced in the US and other countries which followed the example of didiocy. We finally could secure some bandwidth by leasing the spectrum some poor company had actually won the bid for. They went under very fast, so did everyone else that actually bid for the spectrum. We could still lease the spectrum since there was no plans to re-auction the spectrum (I wonder why... it was so fruitfull the first time around). So virtually every company that went into the fixed wireless venture fumbled down to nothing very fast. None fulfilled the government build-out requirements, nor did some actually pay what they bod for (in the UK). Eventually, innovative Fixed wireless radio manufacturers started to go under because all their clients were gone. So now if you want to go into FWA (28-38 gig) you have the wonderful choices of very flexible vendors such as nortel, lucent, alcatel... but oh there's a catch... yes their equipment is cheap but you have to spend three times as much as the equipment cost to actually get it to work like it should.

  • What we need is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @11:28AM (#3112571) Journal
    It would be really great if they would start releasing 802.11x telephone PBX equipment. Blanket an area in wireless internet and telephony. Now *that* is my idea of sticking it to the Comcasts and Ameritechs...
    • Perhaps you haven't seen this. [] Symbol is making 802.11b phone and PBX equipment. I saw a few of these phones go for a lot on ebay a while ago, but they do exsist and prices are only going to start comming down.
  • by greensquare ( 546383 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @11:35AM (#3112602)
    I see a couple of postings from people complaining about WiFi Stuff. One guy says the public Access Points don't work. And he wants to increase signal stregth. Somebody else is bitching because his range is only 40 feet.

    This is just like anything else.

    If you put your stereo and your TV right next to each other and try to play music and watch TV at the same time, it is going to suck. If you put your 802.11B 2.4 Ghz Access Point right next to your 2.4 Ghz Wireless phone, and your microwave oven that you use to do all of your cooking, then your throughput and your range are just going to suck.

    If you put your stereo in your bathroom, and then close the door, you can't hear it for shit out in your living room. If you put your Access Point between the fishtank, and your metal filing cabinet, your range and throughput won't be too good. ( 2.4 Ghz can't go through metal or water very well.. )

    If you leave your linux box on an open network, and leave the root account without a password, and then tell people to log into it, soon it will be trashed by someone, either on accident or on purpose. If you leave your admin account on your Access Point unprotected, and tell people to use that access point, pretty soon it wont work either.

    In my opinion 802.11 B does work pretty well in terms of range and throughput. Using an off the shelf Cisco access point with only a standard rubberducky antenna, and PC Card with an integrated antenna in a laptop, I have maintained 1 and 2 Mb/s connections at a range of 1800', in direct line of sight, and through a glass window.

    In a typical cube farm office environment ( 5' high partitions made of metal frames, and cloth/cardboard ) I have demonstrated a good reliable 5 - 11 Mb/s connections in a 150' radius.

    In a home, 40' radius should be no problem, assuming typical drywall/stud construction.


  • Wireless has it's place, but that place is not a high performance workspace. If you have to stay connected 24 hours a day, thats not it, the only thing it is really good for is someone who doesn't like having to run wires all over. I would rather run cables, and have my 100mbit Lan than a 11 mbit lan, which cost me three times as much.

  • by bourne ( 539955 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @11:47AM (#3112664)

    "Conventional wisdom" says that hooking up to WiFi networks on the fly is as easy as falling off the turnip cart. But as the Salon article notes, for the average joe that isn't the case.

    I'm not down at "average" - I eat TCP/IP for breakfast - but I haven't figured out wireless yet, either. I've got a ZoomAir card but none of the interesting software (NetStumbler mostly, but others too) seems to support it. I'm probably just missing some totally basic groundwork, and making it too complex because I'm used to delving details.

    What's the general experience? Is this stuff easy and I'm just on the wrong page? Or are the only people who're surfing like mad the people who understand this shit inside out?

    Can anyone recommend wireless primers for regular usage as well as um, more 'dynamic' usage?

    • by laserjet ( 170008 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:50PM (#3113199) Homepage
      Most likely, you just haven't had enought time to play with 802.11b. Once you do, it is a cakewalk, and proably the best money I have spent on computer equipment since my first modem (2400baud).

      head over to 802.11 Planet [] and look at their tutorials to get started.

      there is nothing like surfing on your ibook from your couch, playing an mp3 in the background streaming from your linux box. i leave my inernet connection wide open 1) because I want people to use it. My internal network is protected behind a good firewall, but anyone in the area can have internet access. and 2) i think it's the right thing to do to help the community. think if everyone shared their connection. it would make the world a much better place.

      • i leave my inernet connection wide open because I want people to use it. My internal network is protected behind a good firewall

        Your firewall may protect you from the World, but, out of curiousity, how do you protect your internal network from anonymous WLAN users? Do you have more than 1 internal network (e.g. one for CAT5 and one for WLAN)?

        I'm asking because I share my Internet connection with my neighbor but I've: changed the WAP defaults, enabled WEP, disabled SSID broadcasting, only allow certain MAC addresses, etc. It certainly isn't "wide open".

        I did this because I didn't have an simple way of protecting my internal network from "bad" neighbors.
        • I really don't, and I really don't care if I get cracked. I never have before, and I don't have data that I can't lose. I reload my OSes every couple of weeks usually, and anything I need to keep is burned on CD-R. I keep mission critical files on disks and computers not on any network.

          Insecure., yes. Do I care? nope! In fact, when someone cracks my system, I will just slap a new OS on and say, "I have some fellow geeks in my neighborhood!"
  • The group recently decided to pass on the opportunity to be part of the Boingo database. The group sentiment was that Boingo and other similar companies would need to show some goodwill towards community networks in the form of sponsorship, open source software or free access to their commercial "hotspot" AP's.

    Personally I don't think there is viable business model. Free community networks and/or self organizing mesh networks (with commercial and free internet on ramps) are going to survive the test of time.

    - Dustin -
  • From the Tech Review article: "Assuming an organization already has a high-speed Internet connection and has spent $100 for a wireless transmitter, the only real cost associated with providing this service is the negligible..." T1, T3 and backbone connections are free, YEA! To my eye, that is a BIG assumption. His startup went broke providing security and other services. Protecting users from each other must be free for the organizations that are allowing free connections. Am I liable for data loss from one user cracking another on my 'free' network? HUMBUG.
  • MIT Economics? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skeptic ( 6226 ) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:04PM (#3112870)
    I don't understand how the MIT author believes offering bandwidth for free will not drive up marginal use.

    Whenever something is free people use it as if it's free, that is to say freely. This is not a good recipe for an economical campus (or office) network.

    In economics this is known as the Freeloader problem, and is ubiquitous amongst public goods.

    Remember, nothing is ever entirely free, someone always pays. In this case the MIT author's bandwidth was being paid for by students.
  • Sky Dayton is the Church of Scientology's poster child []. Earthlink and Boingo are run by dyed-in-the-wool Scientologists [].

    Scientologists [] Reed Slatkin, who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, and Sky Dayton are co-founders of Earthlink, which is presently the third largest ISP in the USA.

    I hope Sky Dayton's [] new company Boingo fails where other companies survive. I don't want the Church of Scientology [] running any wireless networks in my neighborhood, thank you.


  • Funny! Just got back from CompUSA and I see this /. post. Still haven't hooked it up, but I picked up a Linksys BEFW11S4 combo Wireless AP/DSL Router/Switch for $169 and a Linksys WPC11 Wireless PC Card for $79. At these prices it was barely more than I originally paid for the failing hub that I am replacing.

    Jack William Bell
  • Wow.

    Talk about a total conquest. The sales job is complete. And the (one would think), otherwise intelligent geek elite has bought it hook line and sinker. (Control the geeks, and you control the world.)

    Of course, people can choose wishful thinking and ignorance; they can surround their brains with as much electromagnetic fog as they choose. It can be a little frustrating when you watch people you care about put themselves in harm's way, but hey, life is all about free choice and letting people learn from their own mistakes. So sure, let the people microwave their heads with their dandy little toys. Fine.

    However. . , when all the hobbits start re-defining our COLLECTIVE environment through said ignorance; that is, when I have to sit next to a microwave emitter/amplifier, (tastefully concealed behind some innocuous wall or potted plant), in my local coffee shop, bus shelter, library, etc., then I start to get annoyed.

    Hobits en mass are extraordinarily dangerous. And let me count the ways the ignorant have poisoned the water I drink, the food I eat, the air I breathe and have altered my city in a thousand ways which serve to bring down the quality of life for me and everybody around me. . ,

    The only reason people are now allowed to have thin-screens is that CRT EM has been replaced by the far more effective and ubiquitous cell phone radiation. Cities are turning into low-level microwave furnaces designed, in conjunction with a dozen other attacks, to turn people's awareness, strength of mind and decision making abilities to mush. Welcome to zombiville.

    Before you knee-jerk, do some reading and exploration, and (horrors!), thinking. And don't turn on the indoctrination station. Science-news television is the among the slickest forms of propaganda. If you've been watching and believing everything without question up until now, you've been duped and controled.

    And watch: When you poke at the more sensitive spots, that's when you can expect the harshest auto-attacks to spring from people's programming. The intensity of auto-response is directly proportional to the importance of the lie.

    -Fantastic Lad --Why has the media been so careful to make sure that those with concerns look ridiculous and 'uncool'? Tin foil hatters, indeed!

"Plastic gun. Ingenious. More coffee, please." -- The Phantom comics