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The Internet

802.11 vs. 3G For Mobile Access 99

bobdole34 writes: "A new way to give us fast mobile net access spells further trouble for 3G.Imagine being able to surf the net at speeds faster than DSL from anywhere, at any time - you could watch a live video webcast while waiting for the bus, email photos to your friends while sitting in the park, or download the MP3 of the song that's playing in the pub before it finishes. I smelled vapour until I saw a demo of MeshNetworks at 802.11Planet in Philly."
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802.11 vs. 3G For Mobile Access

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  • you could watch a live video webcast while waiting for the bus, email photos to your friends while sitting in the park, or download the MP3 of the song that's playing in the pub before it finishes.

    Or you could download the Two Towers [slashdot.org] before any of the Dialup or DSL bastards can get their hands on it.

    Your palmpilot gets a fatter pipe than my desktop.

    I hate you.

    • having gone from a 5Mbs pipe to a 33.6Kbps connection I know the pain

      the problem and it's a huge problem that mesh works only when you have enough people

      much like haveing enough people to become econmic to install a 802.11 in a cafe

      also it becomes a divide between people that have and have not i.e. those in sparsly populated areas where they wont put an arial because they dont have enough people

      there are so many reasons why this will fail

      there are lots of Real case studys where this type of thing failed

      so vapour it's truly amazing

      regards

      John Jones

      p.s. so tell me why this isnt just 802.11g
  • Just because you saw a cool demo somewhere doesn't necessarily mean it STILL isn't vapourware... what if this company folds tomorrow?

    sheesh, I saw tons of cool demos at linuxworlds in the past and nothing came of them!

    • Maybe the DSL providers will see this as a threat and drop the price while upping the bandwidth?

    • There are several others in the mesh game. Radiant systems is the other one in the "dog and pony show" stage. There are about 5 players that are are approaching the rigged demo stage and at least two compaines that are doing this with optical. Radiant Networks used to have a flash thing about how their network works. They use high GHZ radios to build an ATM mesh and can deliver OC3 speeds to the mesh. Their mesh will let you pull out 100mb ethernet from any of the hubs and/or E1/T1 circuts. The problem is it only goes a few KM per hop and the gear isn't low cost. If they could do a 10km hop, then it would be great for a backaul of a wifi net but its range is very limited.

      When this takes off, I expect it will be the newer optical mesh stuff. Since they can deliver much more bandwidth than the microwave system, it can scale much better. Curren wireless mesh systems seem to be able to deliver slightly better than cable systems or ADSL with a high oversubscription rate.

      One major problem with all the wireless systems is that there just aren't enough bits allocated to go around if any of this stuff gets popular.
  • Holy Crap! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dirkdidit ( 550955 )
    Moteran and MeshNetworks are able to offer connection speeds of up to 6Mbps, over a hundred times faster than dial-up.

    Not only is it so fast, but it runs over conventional 802.11b. I hope this becomes widespread enough so I can get it up here in the middle of nowhere North Dakota.

    The question is with wireless internet getting this fast I wonder if we'll start to see outdoor LAN parties???
    ...... ok so probably not.
    • Not likely...why would a bunch of geeks at a LAN party want to go outside? ;)
      • Because they were in a park in Texas durring the NexTech Summit (National Summit for Young Technology Leaders), and there just happened to be an electircal outlet near by, and kids brought laptops, network cables, Marathon and a mac emulator.
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:07PM (#4184718) Homepage Journal
    Connecting things in a mesh is all good and well and certinaly more efficient - but is it efficient enough?

    Wireless networking occupies a relatively narrow band of the frequency spectrum, and probably less than the 3G ranges offered to telcos.

    I highly doubt that an 802.11 mesh will ever provide that much bandwidth - especially once things start relaying in many directions at once.

    Imagine splitting it up into cells, each one where a user is. As something transmits from one cell to the next, it'll use bandwidth (or available frequency space) in the neighbouring cells.

    Anyway this could work for dense areas but screws over the people living in the country - worse still, it's not dependable. What if you need to make an emergency call and nobody is within range?

    I heard nokia were wokring on a hybrid tech that allows you to use mesh networks when they are around and 3G otherwise - that would be cool :)

    Also i could raise the usual problems of accounting for bandwidth use on this kind of net - who pays for it all?
    • The amount of bandwidth used depends on how many hops you are from the access point. You will use bandwith from every hop between you and the AP. So if most everyone has to go through say 5 nodes, the available bandwith will be saturated before you even get to the AP.

      My question is what happens when everyone leaves downtown at night? Since there is no one to relay the signal, you'll only have coverage when you are close to an AP
    • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:33PM (#4184839)
      The Seattle Wireless [seattlewireless.com] crew came up with the best solution I've seen: the local net is "free", but Internet access is via gateways that might not be free. A local ISP could hook up to the "free" net and sell subscription access to the Internet, as could the more clueful national ISPs like Earthlink. This would actually lower the ISPs costs and remove their #1 headache: dealing with the telco and/or cable monopolies. The companies currently building home WiFi routers could build mesh network APs for not much more.

      Also, we already have a 22Mbps variant of the 11Mbps 802.11b standard, and the 55Mbps (or thereabouts) 802.11g standard is in the works. There's no reason why the mesh network APs couldn't start with at least 22Mbps radios. Even with real throughput at a bit over half the stated amount, that's enough to start.
    • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:47PM (#4184893) Homepage
      I highly doubt that an 802.11 mesh will ever provide that much bandwidth - especially once things start relaying in many directions at once.

      Ok, first you gotta realise that 802.11b (even) by access standards is fast!

      With a contention ratio of 50, and giving each user 576K you get:

      11,000,000 / 576000 * 50 = 954 users

      That's on a single connection, within say 100m of some user.

      So even 11b can allow enormous numbers of people 'broadband' capabilities.

      Secondly, that's with current technology only- a more advanced technology would allow multiple networks on the same frequency by using directional aerials- this can multiply up the usage maybe 20 times. Then there's the fact that even 11b allows atleast 3 different channels (in practice). We're talking thousands of people, potentially,in little old 1b land alone.

      Anyway this could work for dense areas but screws over the people living in the country - worse still, it's not dependable.

      Yes, this is the issue. WiFi is basically line of sight, or 100m range. However that's a regulatory issue, mostly. The only reason that WiFi is so restricted is due to power limits. If the users were allowed to shout louder, they would be able to go further, and then country people would be in range of each other anyway (chances are).

      What if you need to make an emergency call and nobody is within range?

      Cell phone? Who says WiFi is for emergency calls anyway?

      • Secondly, that's with current technology only- a more advanced technology would allow multiple networks on the same frequency by using directional aerials- this can multiply up the usage maybe 20 times.

        I see - so do i mount the directional antenna on my head and make sure i always look north?
        • so do i mount the directional antenna on my head and make sure i always look north?

          If you want to! You'll look silly, and it won't help, but you can if you want to ;-)

          Hint: directional antennas can be multiple fixed antennas that are electrically switched to form a 'phased array'. Similar to what the military use for their radar systems on aircraft.

      • No it isn't.

        Your first mistake is assuming that the quoted 11Mbs is the actual data-throughput. It isn't, because of the protocol overhead you lose 50% of the quoted bandwidth straight away. As the bandwidth is split into discrete amounts depending on your reception, you actually get 500kb,1Mb,1.5 Mb or 5.5Mb and unfortunately you really need to be in ideal line-of-sight for 5.5Mb.

        Secondly, you assume that these huge numbers of people are all within range, of what? There are no good scalable peer-to-peer routing algorithms for mobile networks. The best ones in the literature all use a form of random flood filling of the network so on a city sized scale that's going to break badly. If you have base-stations everywhere then you need almost as much infrastructure as a 3G network. Add to that the really bad urban-canyoning and reflection problems and you end needing a basestation in nearly *every* starbucks ;)

        We're actually in the process of rolling out a free 802.11 network over Bristol. Even though the project is funded the hassles of sorting out planning permission for aerials and putting in backbone means that after a year we've only just starting rolling with 3 aerials installed over a tourist area so that we can start doing demos.

        Don't get me started on the other 802.11 limitations, it was designed for sitting browsing the web in the back-garden. It has latency and broadcast issues that make it unsuitable for streaming real-time video and audio, bad routing, IP hand-over issues and a pile of problems. People just look at the raw bandwidth figure and start creaming themselves over 55Mb bandwidth appearing everywhere but unfortunately the inherent problems with 802.11 mean that it isn't really as good as it sounds.
    • Plan 9 (from Wash D.C.) as 802 proliferates around urban America and clusters in rural America...

      1. The Telcos start whining to their regulators that they are being deprived of revenue, as point-to-point trunk calls lessen for 802-based communications.

      2. The wireless carriers (who still haven't found a stable, profitable business model -- i thought PacBell Wireless was bad -- until Cingular bought 'em) will join in with the trunk owners and scream that their FCC franchise is being devalued by Wireless IP Data and IP Telephony and they need government help (read: R-E-G-U-L-A-T-I-O-N) right now.

      3. The Consumer Giants will whine and bitch and snivel about interference issues with 2.5 and 5 GHZ devices they make.

      4. The law enforcement/intelligence community will endlessly bitch about their lack of ability to "monitor" this dangerous new technology, and how this creates a national security vulnerablity and therefore, offers a "window of opportunity" to evil-dewars. They will insist on lousy/key crypto and 1.5 bit key algorithms, and their ability to "oversee" the security of this spectrum.

      4. The G, sensing the increased value of this spectrum and their ability to make even more money in licence fees and regulatory overhead will further regulate the spectrum and cause more and more expense to be made to justify their jobs and administration and regulation of it.

      no wonder i don't sleep much.....

      • The only thing to disagree with in this insightful and human-nature-savvy post is the part about insisting "on lousy/key crypto". I thought the big problem with 11b was lousy crypto in the first place...
      • Actually, I'd believe in a heartbeat that the Telcos and wireless carriers would have a royal shitfit over 802.x.

        Having looked over and drooled over some of the latest, greatest wireless offerings such as ATT's "mlife", I got to the point where I read exactly how much they charge for the service. They are kidding with these pound-me-in-the-ass prices for data, aren't they?

        Here is a great technology just waiting to be used, and they brag bout downloadable games and video and music and they best they can manage is $12.50 for 2MB of data per month? Isn't all the data coming from/going to the phone digital data anyway? At least it's cheaper (and better) than the Palm VII's Palm.net service and that was cool in its day was well.

        The more power to the people who start these mesh networks, the better. Prices need a little bit more downward pressure.

        • OK, so the marketeers still don't get it.

          Do you expect anyone in a huge company, who mostly uses the Internet for porn and ebay to understand why anyone would want to plug in a laptop? Verizon gets close. AT&T wants us to turn Japanese, Nextel wants us to be truckers, and Singlular... as far as I can tell, Singlular wants us to be gay.

          • If I could get a '+1 Funny' off of eBay and give to you, I'd do it in a heartbeat. :-D

            I expect smaller mom and pop wireless ISPs will lead the big players to the fount of wisdom by example, and the ones that drink from it will prosper. This is just like the first ISP boom all over again - a lot of smaller actors get on stage and fight it out and then the big ones eat the surviving small ones with viable business models, paying customers and cool buzzwords.

  • > Imagine being able to surf the net at speeds faster than DSL from anywhere, at any time - you could watch a live video webcast while waiting for the bus

    I'll be the first person on the bus using this technology!

    Thanks Slashdot!
  • Battery Use (Score:2, Interesting)

    Sure eveyone will be worried about sniffing traffic but good crypto might take care of that. What normal people are really going to care about is battery use. This is going to drain the devices battery. Will people simply opt out of the network by leaving their device off till they need it so the standby time is not cut down?
    • Hopefully, fuel cells / will help.
      Also, isn't the onus on device manufacturers to manufacture a wireless chip/card/ that uses power intelligently? Eg. when only transmitting pings / packets to maintain your ip on the "mesh", use minimal power?

      That begets the idea: the majority of users might not even need to be connected all the time. Then a simple powering down of the wireless chip/card would suffice once no network traffic is scheduled.

      Little savings here and there can go a long way.
      • when only transmitting pings / packets to maintain your ip on the "mesh", use minimal power?

        that would be impossible since that case should never happen.
        Imagine what the coverage would be at night when most of the users don't use their devices.
        As is said in the article, every user that connects improves the coverage, but any user that disconnects worsens it .. As was already mentionned by a commenter too the security on such networks would be crap, yes using crypto would help, but many country don't allow such crypto yet, and even so what is a good crypto ..? can it really run on pdas or cell phones ... i mean crypting all data that goes out of your box would require quite some amount of cpu time.
        add to this that majors and movie studio will go crazy after reading the article and might well be the first to buy the technology to burry it ASAP
        Add to this that routing/relaying DOES use bandwidth so probably you will never see the announced 6Mps or 400Mbps, as i understand it what u will get is 6Mbps shared badwidth and though that is more than enough for a lot of users just using email and browsing the web, file transfers require a lot more than this.
        • the thing i have to add to this is that while i agree that crypto would just EAT your cpu, there are those of us who love doing OS reloads SO MUCH that we don't even use virus checkers, let alone worry about whos seeing our data... if someone wants to peer into my computer, screw with my .dll's, see that i am using two illegally obtained OS's and a shiteload of copyrighted mp3's... hell, have fun! and if the big G wants to see, then when the FBI comes knockin' on my door i'll have coffee and donuts waitin'! -Music is music, but evil is dumb.
    • Crypto is an essential part of making this usable for corporations. The security implications of a network with no wires and all hardware relaying traffic are rather substantial.

      Before this tech. gets too far, it will have to deal with the whole "wireless security issue"... which is quite a beast.

      Of course, tunnelling traffic through a proxy of some kind (VPN-style) could help matters, but it will of course affect speed.

      -jbn

  • I might actually motivate and get a new cell if it came with something like this. Of course convincing the phone makers to put it in might be a little hard considering how inbed they are with the telcos. God this country is so behind in some respects. Anyway, since the telcos seem to want to charge me an arm and leg everytime I access their crappy wireless net services I would be a big fan of being able to just tie into a mesh network for cheap. Of course one wonders about the powerdrain for people leaving their phones on in their pocket/bag and having them used as routers. Can't be good for battery life. Guess I'll have to wait for fuel cells afterall.

    There is no billion dollar market for wireless web services, and their won't be until it is cheap and easy to use. I.e., years from now, possibly longer.
    • Good point.
      Battery life is not such a big deal with laptops, but with cell phones it's different. With my phone I notice that the battery goes much faster when I'm in analog areas, even if I'm not making calls. I can just imagine it trying to constantly relay 802.11 packets!
  • In Cisco class in school, when we were learning about various topologies, my teacher was telling us about how mesh networks never work because they're too complex.

    Granted she wasn't really a fountain of networking knowledge and I proved her wrong on a daily basis, but it's nice to see how wrong she can be.
    • Everything about Cisco's "Networking Academy" was funny. Including the teachers they pulled from some completely unrelated subject, like in my case, Medical Insurance, to "teach" networking.
    • Re:Funny memory... (Score:3, Informative)

      by FreeLinux ( 555387 )
      Your Cisco teacher was referring to fully meshed networks and she was correct. Fully meshed networks, typically based on point-to-point or frame-relay connections such as those that would be used in corporate environments, do not scale well. They very rapidly become far too cumbersome and expensive to maintain due to the fact that these types of networks grow exponentially.

      This 802.11 solution would not be a fully meshed network but, rather a series of partially meshed networks which would make them smaller and more manageable. Furthermore, these networks would have the ability to develop new interconnections automatically and dynamically so the management aspect would not be an issue. Also, due to the use of wireless for these connections, rather than physical connections used by point-to-point and frame-relay, cost would not be nearly as big an issue.

      In other words, your teacher was correct but, those rules do not apply in this scenario.
  • Contradictory (Score:3, Informative)

    by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:20PM (#4184780)
    This article [ultrawidebandplanet.com], at UltraWideband Planet [ultrawidebandplanet.com] suggest that 802.11 is doomed. Perhaps most interestingly, the Ultrawideband site is from the same people that offer 802.11-Planet, Internet.com [internet.com].
    • SMS was doomed in the UK a year and a half ago. Now it's the most popular messaging format in Europe.

      802.11b is used by the people. I have a card. It rocks. It won't die until my card breaks, hopefully not for a few years yet... and I'll probably buy another one when it does.
      It's great being able to sit in the garden and surf :)
  • by Cadre ( 11051 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:21PM (#4184782) Homepage
    I smelled vapour until I saw a demo of MeshNetworks at 802.11Planet in Philly."

    Yes yes. What you saw was a step up from vaporware, commonly referred to as a "dog and pony show".

  • by Kragg ( 300602 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:24PM (#4184790) Journal
    Power.

    Think about it. You plug a wifi card into your laptop and start surfing. Battery life cuts from 4 hours to 2.

    This study [synack.net] examines current 802.11a solutions... chances are there will be some improvements, but it averages 100 microwatts/sec regardless of whether it's in use or not.

    OTOH, 3G phones [adelantetech.com] (with their tiny ickle bodies and tiny ickle batteries) consume power at 25 microwatts in TX/RX, and only 1 in idle mode.

    This article [eetimes.com] talks about how 3G power is a challenge for handset manufacturers even now, designing for 3G. You think your phone is gonna be able to cope with 802.11a? You're wrong.

    3G and WiFi are both cool. But they are different.

    • turn it off. My iBook' can turn the wireless card on and off, thus cutting the power flowing to it, thus saving on the battery. There's gotta be a similar option. Worse comes to worse, rip that sucker out of there for the time being. You KNOW you need more battery power rather than a connection? Go for it.
    • Think about it. You plug a wifi card into your laptop and start surfing. Battery life cuts from 4 hours to 2.

      Nah. I haven't seen any degradation of battery life at all.

      but it averages 100 microwatts/sec regardless of whether it's in use or not.

      Ok ;-) My laptop powersupply is in rated at 48 watts, who cares about a few hundred microwatts? The phone issue is very different, batteries are much smaller in a phone. My laptop battery is about the same size or bigger than a cell phone ;-)

      What you say makes good sense for a cell phone though.

    • This was my first thought, too -- seems like an expensive way to get bandwidth. You pay for the energy for everyone else's browsing. If you turn it off, you degrade the network performance. So you're relying on everyone else to waste money/energy so you can have lots of bandwidth. Kinda sketchy.

      Looks like your numbers are off, though.
    • Check this out: TI shrinks its Wi-Fi chipset, claims new design specifically fit for PDAs and cellphones [com.com].
  • Open the specs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chris_mahan ( 256577 )
    Will they open the specs?

    Didn't think so. They are looking to boost stock value in an effort to capitalize on an eventual takeover.

    If they did this for the good of mankind, they would have made the code open source.

    What we need is a software-reconfigurable wireless lan card that could be programmed to communicate as needed...
    • It seems like theres always some one spouting some shit about open source, Always "If it was for good, it'd be OPEN SOURCE!!" You realize companys prey on this? They release shit under lame open source liscences that actualy don't let you do shit, just so some anti-establishment programers can say "YEAH ITS GOOD! ITS OPEN SOURCE!!!" The problem with open source is that no one reall FOCUSes real hard on a program, because they have to live. They have to have jobs, they can't just sit down and code because they get paid for it. Thats all closed source work. Yeah this may be consideredredfqasdter a flame but, thats just cause i'm a jerk.
      • Well Fuck, did I say free?

        Damn, there is a difference, you know?

        They are selling a Hardware System. All I want is the spec to the hardware to be completely open. It's not like I can click the copy button and get a bunch of network cards to spit out of my PC.

        I want the specs to the card to be open so it can be used even though the company might be bought/go out of business.

        Besides, I like to get paid, so I understand your point exactly.

    • I don't know what protocols the two companies discussed in the article use, but there are GPL'ed implementations of mesh routing protocols linked from these pages about MobileMesh [mitre.org], and Ad Hoc On Demand Distance Vector [ucsb.edu].

      Also, is a collection of links on mobile routing protocols [nus.edu.sg], and mesh routing protocols that were originally designed for wired backbone links [pacific.net.au].

  • Mesh networks are still a dream. High speed mobile internet is here now [verizonwireless.com]. At $99/month, it's not quite worth it yet though, especially because you agree not to use it for your home network.

    Anyone want to help me set up a WiFi network in Pitman, NJ [yahoo.com]? Somehow I doubt it.

  • It ain't that simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tengwar ( 600847 )
    Minor point - 3G can go up to about 2Mbit/s if the user is stationary and close to an aerial - i.e. in conditions comparable to those for which 802.11b works.

    Much more important is that in practical terms, the bandwidth of the airside isn't the limiting factor in a public-access network. In an office environment, you can get something like 3.4-4Mbit/s out of 802.11b (depending on your adapter, and on whether you are using WEP encryption). In a public-access network, you've got to pipe that down some back-haul pipe to an upstream PoP. Either you use cheap-and-cheerful 2Mbit/s DSL, and put up with contention at the DSLAM, or you pay for something like a T1/E1 with dedicated bandwidth. Even if you pay for the dedicated bandwidth, you're probably going to end up with at most 2Mbit/s shared between your active customers.

    You'll have to check prices yourself, but it's difficult to see how you can make a profit unless you dimension the system for a fairly low target bandwidth, say 256kbit/s, when you cost in the bandwidth and the installation labour. That makes it much closer to 3G in practical terms - probably a bit faster and a bit cheaper, but with access restricted to hot-spots.

    • I think the whole point is that it doesn't have to be motivated by profit. A good example is the Melbourne network currently being set up http://www.wireless.org.au Admitedly, we pay crazy prices for bandwidth in Australia (I pay $80AU/month for ADSL with static IP) but this is why it stands such a good chance here... but only if the cost of piping a net connection is shared between the users. Essentially WiFi, in my opinion, is about high speed community networks. As the number of users increase, the telcos are going to want to use our kickarse network rather than us using theirs! OK, maybe a little optimistic but not when you consider what you can do with a good map of APs plus mobile devices running IP v6 and some funky routing. I, for one am building a setup based on my iPAQ to share my DSL to the local cafe for a start and then with some nice antennas, link in to the rest of the wireless net (maybe using my bicycle to recharge my batteries...)
  • OK, I can understand a system where they mount fixed accesspoints all over the city and the accesspoints relay traffic to their neighbours over the air instead of beeing connected thru cabling.

    But relying on the mobile-devices themselves sounds to error prone, I wouldn't want to be at the edge of the coverage area where I see only a few neighbours, what if they decide to turn of their phones or just move out of range.


  • This has the potential to transform human society in ways we cannot even anticipate!

    Imagine millions of commuters all watching Pam and Tommy Lee do their thing on the way to work in the morning! EVERY morning! My friends, we stand at the gateway to a new and better way of life for all human organisms on this ever-shrinking little old globe of ours.

    The malevolent forces of evil, tyranny, poverty, stupidity, Scientology, lambda calculus, feminism, fascism, organized religion, the ASPCA, and Wizard of Oz/Pink Floyd theories will wither away like ice in a spring thaw!. THE CORPSES OF THE INIQUITOUS WILL LITTER THE STREETS! Wild dogs will gnaw the dry bones of the unrighteous! Everybody will have an above-average income and nobody will have to stay home on prom night!

    Fuck a duck, man, this is heavy shit.

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:46PM (#4184883) Journal
    Competition is in the nature of human being, but it should be the time to release that these technologies are likely to complement - not compete each other. Good beginnings for understanding this, might be reading this [broadbandweek.com] and this [business2.com]

    this clip is from Business 2.0:
    <clip> Ultimately, however, 3G and Wi-Fi should be able to coexist. "The technology is actually very complimentary, because they are not truly competitive technologies," King says. "I expect that mobile carriers will purchase some Wi-Fi providers, and we'll start to see some integration." </clip>

    • Nokia already has a PCMCIA card, the D211 which provides WLAN and GPRS/GSM data connections. More info on the D211 here [nokia.com]. There is also a D311 for use in the US. And they provide drivers for PocketPC and Linux as well.

      Plus the WLAN supports a SIM card which allows operators to provide secure chargable WLAN services in public spaces.

      More info here on Operator WLAN [nokia.com].
  • Lets just say /. becomes a little light bathroom reading.. Danm all that caffiene makes me so constipated.
  • I remind all of you that all one needs is Airsnort [shmoo.com] running on a laptop and a little bit of time before they can see ANYTHING and everything going you are sending / recieving. 802.11b is a great idea for increasing the bandwidth to a customer but seriously before I even think about buying a phone or even an internet service that relies solely on 802.11b they are going to have to revise this standard or setup a VPN for me for no charge.
    • Not just 802.11, but any radio frequency without encryption is interesting. Its too easy to take a tuner out of an existing device and hook it up to a slightly modified radio to extract the data. A computer can automate the scanning and recording process. With highly directional antennas, the location and identity of the source can easily be determined too. Any kid with a lot of free time can do this with junk parts. It doesn't take a college degree.

      If it isn't encrypted, those communications are subject to eavesdropping. No law, not even the death penalty is going to protect a person from a breach of privacy. Only strong physical security is our friend.
  • Imagine being able to surf the net at speeds faster than DSL from anywhere, at any time

    Yahoo BB in Japan has DSL for 12Mbit downstream.

    for 30 bux nontheless.

    thought that's something people in the US could find interesting to drool on...

    p.s. last i checked, 802.11 speeds drops off drastically when
    * distance between nodes gets far
    * many people sharing freq. spectrum

    and 3G is nowhere NEAR the m-bit speeds on an individual basis.

    so yeah... sticking w/ DSL for all my pr0n needs.

  • for widespread roaming use is this...

    It's in an ISM band.

    So... there is no guaranteet that once your company has rolled out it's 802.11b infrastructure city wide, that something else can't interfere with it. They don't hold a license for the spectrum. My cordless phone can smash it, and they can't do anything about it. Other can set it up as well.

  • by Verne ( 249617 )
    Oh great. You just had to mention downloading MP3s didn't ya?

    Now the RIAA is gonna make sure this technology never becomes mainstream....
  • Apples vs. Oranges? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:24PM (#4185273)
    "A new way to give us fast mobile net access spells further trouble for 3G.Imagine being able to surf the net at speeds faster than DSL from anywhere, at any time"

    I could imagine that, except I can't get DSL out here, and likely won't be able to at least until the end of the decade. I'm assuming you mean by very limited definitions of "anywhere." More like "anywhere you would care to be."

    "you could watch a live video webcast while waiting for the bus,"

    "Bus" = "Public transport" = "population density" = "not me."

    "email photos to your friends while sitting in the park,"

    "Park?" Another one of those things that suggests population density. See, out here we have these things called "back yards"...

    "I smelled vapour until I saw a demo of MeshNetworks at 802.11Planet in Philly."

    802.11 is a wireless LAN technology. Do I need to remind you what the "L" in "LAN" stands for? Rigging up local transceivers for a single building is a heck of a lot simpler (and cheaper) than an entire city. And that's only for you folks that live in cities (read "for those of you that matter" as far as just about everybody seems to be concerned, even on here).

    On the other hand, 3G is essentially a WAN technology, with its much wider tranceiving radius. It may be a cold day in Hell before BellSouth gets off their good-for-nothing behinds to upgrade the local switches for DSL (let alone somebody setting up 802.11 WAPs every few hundred feet along US 90... not that I live close enough to 90 to begin with...), I at least have some access to Sprint's network out here.

    I'm sorry, but trying to say that 802.11 can and will compete with G3 is like saying that Gigabit Ethernet is going to edge out the T-3 market.

    Oh, and before somebody brings up how Canada has DSL "everywhere" with their larger land mass and smaller population, ever wonder why the United States [cia.gov] seems to have twice as many meters of paved highways per person than Canada [cia.gov]? Maybe because the Canadian population isn't as dispersed as the American population?
    • I'm sorry, but trying to say that 802.11 can and will compete with G3 is like saying that Gigabit Ethernet is going to edge out the T-3 market

      Well, if you connect up a few of these [fiberdriver.com] to your GBIC ports, yes, it does replace T-3.

    • before somebody brings up how Canada has DSL "everywhere" with their larger land mass and smaller population ... Maybe because the Canadian population isn't as dispersed as the American population?


      More dispersed, less dispersed: your argument might hold water if U.S. DSL service weren't horrid everywhere. Look at the "National ISPs/Telco ADSL" section of [dslreports.com]'s reviews. Bell Canada is the cheapest provider there (even ignoring the exchange rate!) and has the shortest wait time by far. Excluded from that list are all the non-Bell providers who offer equivalent service for even less.

      Are you seriously claiming that "outback" regions like California, New Jersey, or New York state are less densely-populated than the whole of Canada?
      • "your argument might hold water if U.S. DSL service weren't horrid everywhere."

        Then how about this one: There are more telephone lines per person in the United States than Canada. We're not just talking about more hardware needing upgrading and replacement, we're also talking about more hardware per person.

        "Are you seriously claiming that "outback" regions like California, New Jersey, or New York state are less densely-populated than the whole of Canada?"

        Ever been to Fresno or Sacramento in California? Camden or Trenton, New Jersey? What about Ithica or Albany? It's amazing how the countryside changes as soon as you get away from the major population centers. People are left wondering why New Jersey is referred to as "The Garden State" when they've never been off the New Jersey Turnpike, but the majority of the three states you rattled off are farmland or even wilderness.

        The presence of Chicago doesn't make the rest of Illinois magicly look different from Indiana just as the presence of Calgary doesn't make the rest of Alberta look different from Saskatchewan. Of course, I'd be willing to bet that more people live in rural Illinois than rural Alberta.
        • The OP claimed the U.S. is more dispersed than Canada, and that's why DSL is so poor there.

          I pointed out that even in remote regions, our service is superior to the densest parts of the U.S. Number of roads, phones, planes, or Jesus stickers per resident doesn't change that.

          Addressing the dispersal question, though:

          CIA factbook says 85% of Canada's population lives within 300km of the U.S. border, whose length (excluding the Alaskan border) is 6416km. So to bolster the OP's claim, we'll exclude the 4/5ths of Canada that isn't in that strip -- i.e., all except the most dense part. That gives us a population of ~27million in ~2million km^2: 13.5 residents per km^2.

          Now compare to the U.S.: Just for fun, we'll ignore the populations of NYC (16.6M) and LA (13.1M) since these mega-cities skew the density upward just as Canada's great white north skews it downward.

          The result? ~248M people in a little under 10M km^2 or 24.8 residents per; double that of Canada's most dense region.

  • There are many good references about 802.11 needing too much power for a cell phone application, but TI just announced a chipset based on .013 micron CMOS process that brings the power consumption down by ten-fold. (Yes press release...)

    Two more jumps like this (.10u and then .08u) and you are with-in range of current 3G power consumption.

    I too used to say 802.11 will never go into hand-help applications (Cell phones & PDAs) but I am starting to rethink that position,
    • Color me dubious. The primary power drain is the _antenna_, at least on modern 802.11 cards. If you start cutting power to the antenna, you will start losing range. A better antenna design can offest this loss to a degree, but it is very expensive to manufacture extremely high quality antennas. What I can see is an adaption of the 802.11 that steps back your transmit power when you aren't using it to its fullest extent. There's no reason really to transmit at the full 11mbit when you're just sending HTTP Get requests and you're 5 feet from the basestation. If this is the case with the TI chip, then additional miniturization will not help your power consumption much. In fact the current jump would matter much less than the new sophisticated power control circutry added to the design.
  • We could do this ourselves. As a publicity stunt, why not try to connect a computer in NYC to one in Los Angeles (or the Bay Area?) via 802.11b connected computers (on the ground). It'd be interesting to see how you can get the connection across the desert, but still the cost would be minimal for all those involved.

    Also, about this mesh thing: it won't work late at night when everyone except me is asleep.

  • It might be worth it to recharge batteries a lot more often to provide router service in exchange for always on, zero per-minute cost high-bandwidth mobile data access.
  • I remember when the greatness of bluetooth was all the rage 3 years ago this was the central idea behind the technology. Looks like someone's going to try and capitalize on this novel idea... security security security
  • It amazes me how people think of such things.

    Anyone with experience in WAN coverage for Motient/Mobitex/RAM/ARDIS/Cingular/CDPD (whatever those groups are calling themselves this week) realizes that COVERAGE is KEY.

    A convention center trade show painted with WiFi is not greater NYC. Just because you can surf the web with your laptop while on the second floor toilet in your house it does not mean you can scale outside your teeny D-Link range.

    Let me guess - people will actually care to use a patchwork system that will have gaping holes every 1000ft or so. Yeah, sounds like a real world enterprise solution to me.

    Get it straight - WiFi in the warehouse - WAN everywhere else (except the desolate Dakotas....).
  • mesh technology (Score:3, Informative)

    by xtp ( 248706 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @10:01PM (#4186705)
    The Mesh Networks Inc protocols are proprietary.
    They are a byproduct of military-funded tactical
    radio R&D. There is an emphasis onself-organizing topology and route discovery. If every soldier and vehicle is lugging a radio, then the network
    has a good chance of continuing to operate even if parts of it are destroyed.

    This kind of mesh does have some pathology.Take some number, say 10, of nodes placed in a straight
    line. You are at one end of the line and the internet ISP is at the other end. And you have
    10 wireless hops between you and the internet. And the people in the middle of the line may not be really happy with you either.

    There are non-proprietary approches. Check out the ietf MANET working group at
    http://www.ietf.org.html.charters/manet-charte r.ht ml.

    There are numerous university projects. Try Google(mesh network & university)
    or Google(mobile network & university).

    There have been numerous failed startup company attempts at mesh networks. One approach that I found very appealing used a self-organizing mesh
    that organized itself into rooted tree structures.
    The internal tree branches served as backhaul connections to the internet. The leaves represent the clients/users. The internal nodes are not mobile. They are devices to be installed on utility poles or public access locations. They find one another and create an uplink/downlink
    infrastructure where uplink means a path to the ISP or other wired infrastructure and downlink
    means to the client. I liked this approach because it builds a predictible structure that
    can be analyzed and because the routing procedures
    within the internal nodes are a lot simpler
    than in the completely unconstrained mesh network.

    The tree-like organization also seems to avoid
    another conceptual problem with the fully
    unconstrained network which is bandwidth sharing.
    If you are a client in a full mesh, your node
    must accept routing traffic from other nodes.
    Thus a goodish portion of your bandwidth and battery power may be consumed by traffic going
    through your client - but it's not your traffic.

    I'd guess that most people would not want to act
    as a router and be draining power pretty much
    fulltime. Makes more sense to have a wireless
    self-organizing infrastructure that can provide
    bandwidth to clients that cruise within range.

    There were a few misleading comments about power
    in earlier emails. Cell phones typical draw
    about 2 watts when transmitting. That exceeds
    the current capacity of the battery. They actually charge a capacitor from the battery between time slots and drain the capacitor during transmission. 802.11 devices have lower peak current drains, and they continue to get better. The most important technique in .11 power management is to put the radio in sleep mode (and run the sleep protocol with the AP). This has not been a competitive focal point, but vendors are starting to improve.

    Next-generation .11 radios that are just starting to hit retail channels can operate on both the 11b and 11a bands and with both the 11b and a/g OFDM codecs. The prices for 11a nic cards is under $100 now (79?) and the a/b/g nic cards won't be far behind.

    I think it is important to point out that 11b only has 3 channels to operate in. That doesn't give you much routing diversity when you need a lot of overlapping transmitters to create a useful (and thus redundant) mesh. But when you add 11a and can use the higher bandwidth ofdm codec in either the 11a bands or in the 11b bands (where they call it 11g), then you have more than a dozen channels that can be operating simultaneously. It seems obvious to me that this kind of channel diversity will be needed to successfully deploy a good mesh.
  • by phorm ( 591458 )
    I seem to remember that when the webphone with a mini-screen and keyboard first came out in Japan, one of the more annoying problems were all the dumb kids downloading/watching porno on the bus, train, or other public places

    Think could be a lot worse... last thing I need is some idiot streaming nudies next to me on the bus, with a crowd of his leering friend peering over our shoulders...
  • Mesh networks. Fine, in a trusted environment. And we all know how trusted the world is, don't we?

    All your packets will flow over kit owned by other people. Other people you don't know and shouldn't trust. Yes, you may encrypt it all, but it can be stored to decrypt at leisure.

    Your traffic can be throttled or disrupted by anyone who cares to do so.

    Why should I use the battery of my mobile device to support your pr0n habit?

    On another note... 3G vs 802.11. A friend and I spend a short while doing some back-of-a-napkin calculations about the issues. Given the typical range of an 802.11 AP, how many are needed to cover a freeway? How fast does a vehicle travelling at 70mph (UK motorway speed) move from one to another? How much time does the accessing device spend handing off from one AP to another? The results don't argue for 802.11 as a general replacement for 3G at all. Anna B

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