Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
The Internet

Buy Broadband From Your Neighbor 207

infractor writes "Wired has an article about a wireless project delivering free broadband to a rural community. Using Linux based devices called meshboxes from Locustworld, they've created a local mesh network. More detail in this article. With Wi-Fi friendly ISPs talking about micro-ISP deals for wireless sharers this could be the accelerator UK broadband has been waiting for." Last year we mentioned the MeshAP-05, a bootable CD which "turns a single board computer or laptop into a mesh node and access point," since updated to MeshAP-06. Update: 02/13 19:52 GMT by T : I see from comments that -08 is actually the current version of MeshAP, with -09 soon. Thanks.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Buy Broadband From Your Neighbor

Comments Filter:
  • Groovy. (Score:2, Informative)

    by KCardoza ( 593977 )
    Now if only we could get this sort of thing in the US. I'd pay my next-door neighbor to let me connect through his WAP. Too bad AT&T doesn't allow that sort of thing.
    • Re:Groovy. (Score:1, Interesting)

      by citking ( 551907 )
      Just because someone doesn't allow something doesn't mean you can't do it!

      Hell, P2P would be dead if that were the case!

      • Two weeks ago, my friend Mike got his service terminated for allowing the geeks in the apartment next door to conncet to his WAP. I'm not about to have that sort of thing happen to me.
      • Re:Groovy. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by los furtive ( 232491 )

        Seriously, according to my broadband ISP contract, I'm not allowed to run any server application of any type!

        Not only does this mean I can't have an ftp or mp3 server, technically it means I can't run VNC, or even do JSP/servlet/webservices development from home!

        When companies make blanket statements like that, they'll get blanket rejections as a response.

    • Re:Groovy. (Score:2, Funny)

      by grub ( 11606 )
      Shared WAP will be illegal soon, John Ashcroft will see to it.
    • I have a friend who is currently leasing her Wireless Access Point to a neighbor. Saves a little money on the DSL cost ;-).

      --sex []

    • Re:Groovy. (Score:1, Funny)

      by caluml ( 551744 )
      I'd pay my next-door neighbor to let me connect through his WAP

      Connect through WAP? Surely you won't see much on that mobile phone screen...
    • Needs to be provisioned under a contract that doesn't restrict re-selling of the bandwidth. Really, only home DSL and broadband connections are restricted in this way. Yes, this will cost quite a bit more, but you just need to have enough neighbors on the network to justify it. This probably isn't worth doing for just a couple of nodes anyway (mostly because of 'support' issues).

      It is very cool that more HW and SW are becoming available to do this sort of thing. You still probably want a service provider that does the support, or a community based organization to fill this role (as in one of the links in the story). I'm going to keep watching this and looking for an opportunity to jump in.

    • Re:Groovy. (Score:3, Funny)

      by medscaper ( 238068 )
      Too bad AT&T doesn't allow that sort of thing.

      They don't?



    • While I try to respect my ISP's policies and abide by them... I've considered asking a neighbor who has DSL (I have cable) if we could leech off each other in case of outage - it would be very unusual for both to go down at the same time.
  • telco's (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:28PM (#5296390) Homepage Journal
    The article talks about getting telcos permission to connect these networks to them, but once these networks get pervasive enough, they can cover the globe without needing to connect to telcos.
    • Re:telco's (Score:3, Insightful)

      Except most of the globe doesn't have civilization anywhere near it. Even rural states would only have very localized coverage, nothing close to 'global' (IE.. My closest neighbor is 20 miles away, doesn't really pay to set up the towers needed for this type of access)
      • Re:telco's (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JamesSharman ( 91225 )
        Actualy I think the original poster has a point. The suggestion isn't that this will happen over night but imagine the development process.

        First you get clusters that are only linked via the established networked.

        Then clusters of those get linked up with longer range networking techniques (Do I need to mention Pringles can antenas)

        Eventualy you only need to cover the large geographic areas between population centers but thats where something like shortwave gets in.

        Sure speed is proberbly going to be dependant on distance but the suggestion that one day we may do most of our global networking independant of the telcos sounds pretty good to me.
        • Re:telco's (Score:3, Funny)

          by bughunter ( 10093 )
          Then clusters of those get linked up with longer range networking techniques (Do I need to mention Pringles can antenas)

          At which point the network becomes self-aware.

          Fortunately for us humans, its self-image will be that of a benevolent Englishman with a monocle and waxed moustache.

          Either that or a finite series of savory hyperbolic surface segments. In which case we're screwed.

    • Re:telco's (Score:5, Interesting)

      by I'm a racist. ( 631537 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:52PM (#5296580) Homepage Journal
      Ummm... not quite. Assuming you did coat the globe in these things (including the oceans, which you'd have to do if you want to cut out the telcos completely) you'd have really really shitty throughput (at least over long distances). Not that I said throughput and not bandwidth.

      For long haul signal tranfer the best available technology is [DWDM] fiber (which there happens to be a bit of a surplus of it, at the moment). I suppose satellites could cut in on some of this action. As of now, all non-local backbone traffic (including voice, IP, etc.) is carried over fiber. This probably won't change anytime soon (if ever). Radio is nice, but it's short range. Microwave is really only good for point-to-point. High-energy (x-ray, gamma-ray) is exactly that, high-energy (read: expensive/unrealistic). The really low frequencies suffer from lots of interference. The only thing that may ever beat optical is some kind of quantum entanglement based system (such a thing may not even be "mathematically possible", and even if it is, it's probably unworkable for use by the masses).

      This is one of the things about all this wireless networking that kind of bothered me. Aside from the issue of interference, when you have a huge number of users, you end up with a lot of "routers" in ad-hoc networks. This can become extremely cumbersome. I'd guess that data transfer rates drop at least linearly with distance from "static" (non-ad-hoc) routing nodes.

      At best, I can see wireless technologies handling last-mile links. But, as the user load increases, these last-mile networks will need some good regimentation (to allow for optimized routing, like cellular BSC layouts). From what I know of 802.11 (and the competitors), it's really only good for ad-hoc networking.
    • Re:telco's (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:56PM (#5296616)
      Errr - do you have any idea of the size of traffic carried by backhaul telcos?

      Or the very very serious iron needed in switches and management systems to make sure it works?

      And who gets to decide the routing priority in these networks?

      Who gets to warrant the privacy of data? Telecoms companies are bound by some pretty strong laws to protect the privacy of the voice and data traffic they carry - home supported APs wont.
    • What is the range? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:56PM (#5296619)
      Okay here's a practical question some here can answer.

      what is the practical range of a wifi card? I'm talking here about with real houses and stuff. mine does not seem to reach the room on the far side of the house. (I have concrete interior walls.) So I know it wont reach my neighbor on the far side of that room.

      on top of this my 2.4Ghz phone does an excellent job of jamming the connection. I suspect the microwave deteriorates the signal too. Thus I have real worries about if networks based on wifi are practical at the micro-isp level.

      Another question is if a wifi pcmcia card, and a typical link-sys or airport basestation unit have the same range. That is to say if I run software basestation on my mac does this have the same range and throughput as a real basestation?


      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:13PM (#5296749) Journal
        what is the practical range of a wifi card?
        Varies alot. I have cable modem connected to a LinkSys cable/wifi router. My lap top gets about 150 feet if the aluminum window frames are not directly inbetween the laptop and router. even at short distances (in my sunroom, 35 feet away) aluminum frame windows really screw with my reception.

        I have a workshop 150 feet from the house that has a steel exterior. couldn't get it to access in there, so I bought an external USB wifi receiver (140 bucks), drilled a hole in the steel, place the transceiver in a clear watertight Tupperwear container, with fiberglass insulation surrounding it (to keep unit from getting hot in direct sun). Bolted this Tupperwear unit under the window unit AC to further protect from rain, and ran the cable thru the hole, where i could connect to any computer with USB. that one gets great connectivity.

        It may seem like a lot to do, but it was much easier than running cat5 or bnc underground. It has been up over a year, never a failure.

        As to your second question: my router and external tranceiver are linksys, my two pcmcia transceiver (my wife has one of these too) are D-Link. The pcmcia do not seem to have as good of range as the external unit. The pcmcia also seem to link at a lower speed than the external unit. Also, MY pcmcia unit seems to fade in and out of range more at a given distance than the wifes, even tho they are same brand and model (dlink dwl-650)

        Your milage may vary, but this is what my experiences have been over the last year. All and all, I have been pretty happy with the linksys router, EXCEPT its not good for gaming (wired or wireless), since it appears to stall every few seconds for half a second. Just long enough to get your head blown off. So i have two ips, one for gaming, one for wireless.
      • by grid geek ( 532440 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:36PM (#5296885) Homepage

        Stanford had a guest lecture [] a couple of weeks ago from a group setting up a wireless network in Laos.

        It's intended to connect about 5 villages with a town (the town has telephone lines to the rest of the world) on the other side of a hill/mountain. It allows them video conferencing with the rest of the world as they are using a verbal only language - so keyboards aren't much use. The gear is all battery powered, recharged using a modified exercise bike. They installed it a couple of weeks ago and are getting a couple of miles with it.

        I seem to remember a couple of articles a few months ago about some academics managing to get about 20-50 miles with wireless over water - this of course is an idealised example as there are few areas that flat on land. And of course rain can screw up your signals a lot.

        • Whats more than rain screwing up the reception is the (water)waves over water... If it were a flat surface, you could estimate where the (micro)waves are going to bounce to. If it happens to hit a (water)wave at the perfect angle, then the (micro)wave could possibly return to the device sending it, effectively losing that piece of communication.

    • Wireless is only good for the "last mile connection". Currently, the internet backbone runs at Tb/s rates. This is not very easy to get, even with a number of wireless routes in parallel. Not to mention that the number of hops increases substantially, making the latency poor.
    • Yeah, this was the topic in the "I Cringely" or whatever his name is /. discussion sometime last year.
      I thought the coolest thing was the notion of the traffic on the freeway becoming a moving extension of the network. Basically an internet backbone feed in one town could be connected all the way to another town through a roving vehicular trail of access points. Although rolling nodes would be constantnly passing in and out of range of the network, a certain density would be enough to make a highway work as a data pipe, especially with QoS built into the protocol. Bizarre thought. The internal combustion enhanced wireless network.
      Eventually places like Southern California and the Eastern Seaboard from Boston to Baltimore will have to become vast mesh wireless networks. It's hard to see how that couldn't happen without legislative interference and even then it's hard to imagine how it will be prevented.
  • Fools! (Score:5, Funny)

    by saihung ( 19097 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:31PM (#5296417)
    Don't you know that distributing wireless access to your neighbors supports terrorism!
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:31PM (#5296418)
    .. one day the internet will be rivaled by a community born network? The pieces are almost in place, networking's cheap and easy, peer to peer, desire to do it, etc.

    A year or two ago I couldn't imagine it, but I can today. Two of the apartment complexes I've lived in I had neighbors that would have been interested in networking their computers with mine. If wireless had come around sooner (price-wise I mean) we would likely have done it.

    Okay, I'm not really on topic. It's just this article put an interesting image in my mind of what I'll be connecting to within the next 5 years.
    • Okay, I'm not really on topic.
      Almost on topic, and more interesting than most of the rest of this thread :)
      I suggest you read Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies []. It's a fascinating insight into the evolution of Peer to Peer networks, and makes the point that some P2P networks actually have a larger mapping of sensible information to IP address than DNS.
      TCP/IP is designed for multiple routes, so (in theory) should work very well over a mesh topology, possibly more efficiently than it does now. What is really required for this to function, however, is a way of mapping IP address to geographical location, so that a sensible route can be guessed the first time. With the development of WiFi, it may be possible for base stations to determine the physical location of each other, and generate this information, at least on a local level. (You can't do it very well with cable, since the signal distance over cable is not the same as the straight line distance so knowing the cable distance from 2 points to a third point does not actually give you much information about the location of the third one).
      • TCP/IP is designed for multiple routes

        Sort of. TCP/IP does indeed work in the presence of multipath effects... but it works very slowly. To be specific, any time a packet arrives more than three packets out of sequence, the network is considered to be "congested" and the data rate is reduced.
        • Am I right in thinking that this is a TCP artefact, not an IP one, and so UDP based protocols would not be affected in this manner?
          • UDP isn't effected; but UDP based protocols might be -- it depends upon the protocol. Most people who write code to use UDP don't have a clue what they're doing, so it wouldn't surprise me if their code would break completely in the presence of multipath effects.
    • Just a few points:
      • Community Networks, particularly geographically based (Such as The Well, POPnet, and numerous others), have all but dried up... Our Geographic ties to our neighbors forms perhaps the most tenuous of personal relationships... It can't be compared to the ties between people with similair belief systems, or similar interests (Hobbies, Entertainment, Sexual Proclivities, etc).
      • Once a community network "touches" the Internet, it is, de facto, part of the Internet. In essence, the Internet will always offer more than a community network, because it is comprised of those community networks, and so much more.
      • No community network will ever be able to rival the content of the Global Internet, which is fast approaching (but may never quite get there) the sum total of all human knowledge. Sure, there's a lot of crap out there, but you only need the means and know-how to sift through it to find just about anything imaginable.

      The Internet is what it is... A massive, ever expanding community that encompasses to some degree or another, all heterogenous smaller networks. It transcends the "Geographic community" model, and allows for the stronger "Interest based communities" (Such as Slashdot) to form irrespective of Geography. Therin lies it's power.

      How could an Apartment complex, or Neighborhood, ever rival that?

      I certainly see some special purpose ad-hoc networks offering certain advantages, such as in a college dorm, for a gaming LAN, but even then, the community would only be as good as it's members. Even then, it's not like you'd disconnect from the Internet, or if you did, not permanently.

    • by Donut ( 128871 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:17PM (#5296773)
      You are spending too much time on Kazaa. The Internet, and the majority of its casual users, hit a very small number of high traffic sites (Slashdot, google, CNN) that are sitting on very fat pipes. While these sites are distributed somewhat to different geographic locations, it is still very centralized, and not very peer-to-peer.

      While it is can be argued that the end points of the small-time user part of the Net may become free from certain ISP based constraints, there will always be a need for Telcos and their fat pipes for a majority of the mainstream content on the web.


      ps. Before you grip about homogenous content being the death of freedom, reflect on how much more diverse the net is to the bygone days of the Big Three TV networks.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just get your neighbor to buy a WiFi router to hook up to his/her cable modem and your in business!
  • Great idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by 2names ( 531755 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:33PM (#5296437)
    "Welcome to [town name]! Here is your fruit basket, your laundry detergent, your book of coupons, and your block of IP addresses."
  • I was going to help a buddy of mine set this up with his neighbor, so they could both have broadband. (Because one is in the DSL range, and one is not. Damn SBC to the firey-pits of hell.)
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 )
      This was my problem too. I am the only townhome in my complex that doesn't get DSL, and I'm practically in the middle! In fact, Qwest sent around a guy to everyones door to try and sell us DSL, and I told him I couldn't get DSL and he said "sure you can we just upgraded this area, so all these townhomes can get DSL" in response to this I pulled out a 20 from my wallet and told him that if I qualified for DSL I'd give it to him and sign up, so he calls Qwest on his "bat-line" as he called it and sure enough I didn't qualify.

      So, I asked my neighbor who can get DSL and I offered to pay 100% of the monthly costs and do all the computer setup and wireless equipment purchases. Sure, it was a high initial investment, but it's been working well for over a year or so with no complaints on either side.

      Go wireless!
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:34PM (#5296446) Homepage Journal
    This is a noble goal, but one whose story has been posted several times here on Slashdot. So.. what do you do if your area has NO broadband in the first place? You can't hook up your wireless network point to a 56k modem and share that about.

    If this town already has DSL or cable modem, then sharing this with the townfolk who rarely use the Internet is great.. but if THEY can get DSL, then surely anyone in the town can? That's not solving a problem of availability! Just one of cost..

    People want to use wireless networking to use broadband that is located elsewhere, but since a telephone exchange in the UK can cover more than a 20 mile area, and few rural exchanges have DSL, having wireless broadband is almost an impossibility.

    What's worse is that the ISPs and telcos are focusing on wireless broadband in places that ALREADY HAVE DSL AND CABLE!!! Talk about oversaturation.
    • In the article, they were sharing a telco line (probably a full or fractional T1).

      I could see wireless ISPs spring up around this idea... Buy a couple of T1s then plug them into these wireless boxes instead of modems.


    • This is a noble goal, but one whose story has been posted several times here on Slashdot. So.. what do you do if your area has NO broadband in the first place? You can't hook up your wireless network point to a 56k modem and share that about.

      Yes you can. :)

      Several years ago, I had one win95 box with a 28.8 modem share access with the whole shop, 12 clients, including thru a quasi-wan that linked two buildings that were 500 feet apart. I COULD have added a wi-fi hub and share that access wirelessly, had they existed/affordable then. It used winproxy, stayed connected 9-6, and an ISP that issued permanant IP addresses ($30 mo.), so i could telnet and ftp into the winbox (thx Fictional Daemon).

      It was slow and would suck more used wirelessly thus I conceed to your point, but I can promise you, it CAN be done :)

      Your other option is to purchase a T1 and hook it up to the wireless network, if you could get a "coop" of local users to defer costs. IF its available.

      Another choice is to use a direcpc satalite link (in the US), although that is against their TOS. but it works, albeit with mediocre latency. I used to do that, and never got caught.

      Maybe these wont work well or at all in your situation, but there are a few options for many people, even those who live in the sticks, like me.
    • You can't hook up your wireless network point to a 56k modem and share that about.

      Why not? Apple's Airport base station has this capability. The meshboxes sold by LocustWorld (as mentioned in the article) are standard PCs adapted for use as low-power, low-heat, high-reliability base stations - I imagine that hacking the stack to route packets from a modem to the rest of the network would be trivial. Even better, forget hacking the meshbox - just set up a NAT with a dialup on the other end, and DHCP access to everybody else on the wireless end.

      Sure, it'll be slow as hell. Maybe someone will cache commonly accessed stuff on a daily (or semi-daily) basis to reduce bandwidth load and access time. However 56k is more than enough for basic e-mail, and low-bandwidth web surfing. In the meantime, you build a wireless community that maybe, one day, will have enough users to pony up and put in a leased line, and retire that old 56k modem. :)
      • Until one (or more likely, all) of your neighbors clicks on the magical "Windows Update Notification" icon that appeared in each of their system trays, and starts downloading 64 Megabytes worth of IE updates, and freshly secured DLL files (that they probably don't even use).

        You'll rue the day you hooked the AP up to your modem...

        We're talking total rue-age.

        • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:35PM (#5296880) Journal
          Hehehe. A good use for traffic shaping. If you saturate the line for more than a few minutes (ie, longer than a burst), you get throttled back to a minimum connection (maybe a few bytes.) Seriously though, I see this as a way of fostering a local community (ie, local filesharing, games, IP telephony, etc.) while enabling some advantages of the internet as a whole (ie, e-mail, newsgroups, world wide web.) Yes, spam will be a problem - don't want people to saturate the link downloading crap. Newsgroups is a problem - the spool sizes are way too big, and there's too much spam. World wide web is a problem - maybe we should set up a proxy to filter out graphics, etc. - ie, a web-lite.

          But connecting via modem can be done! :)
        • Has anyone bothered to look at how Windows Update works? (I presume the answer to that is Yes.) Might be cache-able in a proxy? Or maybe Dozers have some equivalent to setting GENTOO_MIRRORS in their /etc/make.conf, so they can use a local mirror?

          I'm being totally naive and unrealistic, aren't I? :(

    • by keytoe ( 91531 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:27PM (#5296832) Homepage

      You can't hook up your wireless network point to a 56k modem and share that about.

      Well, since we're talking about ad-hoc routing meshes anyway, why not have every user with a modem dial out and let the routing software handle bandwidth allocation.

      While the average bandwidth for all people with modems would remain the same (56k), there would be an aggregate max speed of 56k*$users. Based on typical usage patterns, this would be percieved by each individual user as significantly faster than the single modem speed. Thus, the percieved average speed will increase without actually changing. Nothing would have really changed but the implicit contract of sharing 'spare' bandwidth with your local mesh.

      Amazing - an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. All it requires is cooperation. And WiFi hardware. But we've all got that already, right?

    • DSL and cable are not the only ways to get a broadband connection. ISDN is available just about anywhere, and if it's a community deal you could look into getting a T1 (or fraction, E1 if you're in Europe), which shouldn't be too bad if the cost is shared by several people.

      If the telco won't serve your community, then it falls on your community to do it yourselves.

    • In my local area, midcoast Maine, there is a dearth of offerings for consumer broadband. The local solution involves an ISP, Midcoast Internet Services [], which employs line of sight breezecom hardware to build a network. It's not a very cheap solution, but since our area's phone system is a hodgepodge of small rural carriers and Verizon, it's almost impossible to get the telcos to provide decent broadband.

      The only other option, which actually is a newcomer in the area, is Adelphia cable, which is only available in the more urban areas. Adelphia thinks of itself as a monopoly in Maine, so the quality of service is terrible, and the terms of service are worse.

      This is an actual case of a smal ISP using WiFi to work their way around a system that protects these large, unfriendly corporations. And making quite a decent profit while doing so.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:35PM (#5296448) Homepage Journal

    .. I'm disgusted with all these new fangled additions to networking and the internet. I think it would only be courteous to ask the father of the Internet, Al Gore, for his opinion before running ahead haphazardly.
  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybe ( 92183 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:35PM (#5296450)

    The current version available for download is actually v8, with a major release in v9 imminent.

    The newer builds are so far only for read-write media such as a hard drive or (as in the case of the hardware MeshBox) a CompactFlash card.

    There is a lot of activity on the mailing list, and I recommend anyone interested in participating to subscribe.

    / David H
    • Re:Clarification (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ( 591224 )
      This project seems really cool, and I want to run a node, except I have no desire to dedicate a piece of hardware to it. Is there any plan to release a package that can be installed on an existing workstation to provide the mesh functionality, yet still allow the user to use the workstation for other things?

      I tried to find the answer to this myself but the downloads section of the site is a bit confusing.

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:36PM (#5296460)
    Wi-Fi, the most popular form of wireless Internet access, is practically ubiquitous in coffee shops, airports, offices and homes in the United States.

    When did this happen? And why hasn't anybody notified any local Net providers? I'm still on dialup, and I'm just a few miles from the center of town. I know I'm not the last dialup holdout. Ubiquitous in San Francisco maybe, but not in the US. This author is off her rocker.
    • It's ubiquitous in places that aren't, y'know, flyover country. Hick. (In what passes for downtown in itty-bitty Providence, Rhode Island, there are at least 10 access points within a short walk of my apartment, at least 3 of which are open to the public.)
    • The statement is technically correct, but misleading. WiFi _is_ available _in_ almost every Starbucks in America (via T-Mobile), almost all the Delta, Northwest, and AA airport lounges, and becoming very common _in_ offices and homes. The portion of broadband users who have installed WiFi for in-home distribution is soaring (~20% of AT&T Broadband modem signups last quarter bought a WiFi kit directly from AT&T). What's _not_ common is WiFi _to_ offices and homes. That's the hard part, about which I think you're complaining.
  • by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:36PM (#5296462)
    Yes I agree this is way cool.

    But if this group is anything like the small Amuteur Radio groups I used to work with thier budget is zip/nada.

    So we link thier page, hosted at, from the main story.

    Anyonw here going to help out with thier excess charges??

    Think people how you would feel if you had to spend the budget for your next 250 quid access point on excess hosting charges instead.

    The commercial and news site links - fair game - but is it really fair to hit the little guys, did we really need that link on the front page?
    • This is a very good point. Slashdot should implement some sort of policy about such things. The /. effect can be very detrimental to these small sites and can have them shut down as a result. Yet again the idea of having a /. cache of the site is valid, I'm sure they will not sue for copyright violations if /. is saving them a ton of money.

      Oh well, I expect this post to be ignored like all the rest by the Slashdot editors. They are not very professional when it comes to these things, but here I am again preaching to the choir.
      • Come on, if the /. editors can't be bothered with the basic site management what makes you think that they would ever get off their collective butts to do something as proactive as contacting the thrid party sites to which they're linking?

        I mean, if a /. editor won't check each story submission for spelling mistakes and accurate links what makes you think they'll lift a finger to do anything more difficult?

        How many dupes, fakes and blatant adverts have you seen in the last three months? 10? 20? more? It seems as if at least one story every other day is a dupe - how hard could it be to implement a basic system to weed these out?

        The sad thing is such blatant unprofessionalism only hurts /. in the long run. If /. can't take itself seriously then how is anyone else supposed to do so?

        It's a good thing (for Taco, if not anybody else) that /. has already found a financial big brother because if you tried to market a site as badly managed as this one as an investment opportunity VCs would laugh in your face.
  • by Hadur ( 636978 )
    Please read before modding down automaticaly :) Anyways, this sounds like a great idea on paper. But, it seems to be relying on one thing: human goodness. Communism also sounds good on paper. In fact, it is utopia. But, it will NEVER work as it should because humans are greedy. In this case, what is stopping anyone from geting on Kazaa and using up all the available bandwidth? Well, there goes the high speeds for the other neighbors out the window. Yes, they could impliment some sort of bandwidth throttling, but where do you cut it at? You would need a speed at which is fast enough to make the technology and effort viable, but a speed slow enough to prevent misuse... A hard thing to decide. So, in conclusion, I agree that this is a very interesting new application of technology in theory, but in actual implimenttion, I see some serious design flaws.
    • by Cyno ( 85911 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @05:15PM (#5297204) Journal
      The thing is if we're all on kazaa, then the p2p network begins to kick ass because we have more bandwidth to our neighbor than the kazaa node a few hundred miles away. So not only would the bandwidth increase, more content would be available. If you're into that sort of thing.

      But general net bandwidth might get a slight impact from the additional network usage. Its unlikely it would be very noticable, and the widespread adoption of broadband would fund new technologies to provide the infrastructure all those new connected users are going to want. Its good for the economy.
    • Yes, but in a large enough mesh network, chances are your neighbor would have the file you need; no need to go out on the internet for it. The idea is a network fabric, hopefully with many outgoing routed connections to it as possible. It's not like most people with 1.5 MB cable connections use all that bandwidth all the time also. Might as well share. Someone has to just do it.
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:53PM (#5296589) Homepage Journal
    But I use cat5, and after 2 years of doing it...

    I've had to patch the cable 5 times because the dog got it. The last time she got it there were so many patches on the cable it would no longer work.

    His son loves downloading stuff on kazaa, since we're on the same subnet, all his little kazza worms have no problems finding machines on my network to harass.

    The worst part is, if anything goes wrong with any of their computers, it's MY FAULT. They forgot where they saved something? Ask toqer. The machine slows to a crawl because they used a newscraper to d/l pr0n until it ate up all their availiable space, ask toqer. Dog is scraping it's butt on the ground, ask toqer.

    I urge anyone out there even considering sharing their broadband to reconsider unless it's with another geek.
    • by Chocolate Teapot ( 639869 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:35PM (#5296881) Journal
      Dog is scraping it's butt on the ground, ask toqer.
      If your staple diet was Cat5 Ethernet cable, you'd be scraping your butt on the ground too. Just curious, how did you troubleshoot that one? Never mind. I'd rather not know.
    • by osjedi ( 9084 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:40PM (#5296917)
      Yep, been doing it for 2 years also. I'm lucky though - he's a good guy who always pays on time and he knows computers so he rarely requires any kind of tech support. It's been great. We both get broadband for half price. It's above board too - we told the ISP beforehand and bought a business account. I host a domain for each of us on my server/router so we each have Gigs of web space, our own email server with spam and virus filtering, etc. It's great. We burried cat-5 in PVC conduit between our houses. He's got 4 computers on his network and I've got 3 on mine (we both have families). I've also set up Samba on the internal side so we can drag-and-drop website updates from our workstations to the web directories on the server. We've also got our own caching DNS server and Squid to speed things up. Of course we both use php/sql, ssh, bla bla bla. I love being my own host/service provider because I get to do whatever I want. If I want a jabber gateway I set one up. If I want an ftp repository I turn one on. yada yada.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The worst part is, if anything goes wrong with any of their computers, it's MY FAULT. They forgot where they saved something? Ask toqer. The machine slows to a crawl because they used a newscraper to d/l pr0n until it ate up all their availiable space, ask toqer. Dog is scraping it's butt on the ground, ask toqer.

      Then toqer's response should be:

      "That's not an internet issue, that's a client system issue. I'll be glad to come over and look at it for $80/hr., with a minimum charge of 1.5 hours."

      If you aren't charging them out the butt for your consulting services, then of course they are going to abuse you.

      And you should then cut off their access until they buy and install Norton Antivirus WITH the annual subscription.
    • the toker ISP, ha! (Score:3, Informative)

      by twitter ( 104583 )
      I've had to patch the cable 5 times because the dog got it. ... The worst part is, if anything goes wrong with any of their computers, it's MY FAULT.

      Stranger things have happened? Do you include a free bong with that installation or do they have to roll their own?

      Hint, burry the cable in a 6" deep slit just wide enough to fit it where it crosses the yard and use enough water pipe where it comes up the wall to shield it from dog attack. That's what the cable guy did, only he called the water pipe a "conduit".

      • burry the cable in a 6" deep slit just wide enough to fit it where it crosses the yard and use enough water pipe where it comes up the wall to shield it from dog attack.

        Shoot the dog.
    • I give my downstairs neighbor an ethernet drop for free cause I'm a nice guy and he let me use his washer/dryer the first few months I lived here until I got my own, and he gives me food when he bbqs. I've spent maybe 2 hours total helping him with computer stuff unrelated to setting up broadband, about the limit of what I'll do for a friend/neighbor for free. The good thing is, he's starting his own business, and is about to put me on a retainer to be his 'IT guy'.

      This was probobly pretty rare though, it's not that often you have a good neighbor who's relativly smart and friendly, without being a pain in the neck.
    • Interesting - I live in a house on a street where the backyards of all the houses face a walking path alongside a drainage canal. There are a lot of houses along this way. One day I was walking along the path, and I noticed this cable laying on the ground next to the back fence. It wasn't CAT anything, as best I could tell just from looking (no markings, and the line was cut - visible wires weren't tp) - but looked to be about 15 or more wires in the bundle. The end I was at was cut, and a dangling piece lay over the fence and into someone's backyard. I didn't look over to see where it went to, but instead followed the rest of the cable - it layed on the ground for a bit, then swooped up on top of the fence where it passed through eye bolts, then was tied to a tree branch, then back down onto the ground - about 4-5 houses down it ended in a cut end, with no other end in sight. Now, I know that at least three people were involved (the guy with the cable hanging over the fence, the guy with the tree in the backyard to which the cable was tied, and the eyebolts on his fence through which the cable was run, and the final dude, wherever it originally terminated). At first, I thought it might be a networking type attempt (people trying to share broadband), but the cutting, and the lack of one of the ends bothered me - I gave it some thought, and I don't know if my hunch is right - but I tend to wonder if there wasn't some sort of other clandestine networking going on, but for a phone system? I dunno - maybe one of these days I will knock on their door or something, and find out what is happening. A friend and I have talked about doing a neighborhood mesh, but we don't know the geek density in our area (he lives nearby) yet...
  • I dont see how this is going to work if you live in the woods of Bum Fuck Idaho. [] I mean what are you going to do, take a wole bunch of 56k lines. I think people should focus on giving geeks who live in Bum Fuck, Idaho [] broadband connectivity. then worry about how to let people buy broadband.

    As cool as this technology is, people need to be able to download porn faster before they can use it!

    • Why not? Provided that those 56K linkups didn't all terminate to the same "bank" of modems on the other end (what I mean here is that they all aren't on the same "pipe"), and that most of them stayed up, all should share in the aggregate bandwidth - right? In a way, it is the same kind of pooling of bandwidth as happens in many p2p sharing apps...
    • I mean what are you going to do, take a wole bunch of 56k lines.

      Actually, this is a cool idea: if you can find an ISP that supports multilink (aka shotgun), you can get multiple phone lines and multiple modems dialed in simultaneously for a connection that would be much faster than a single 56k line, and then use NAT to share that connection on a LAN, which you connect to your neighbors (hint: 10base2 coax has a longer range than cat5). Each neighbor pays the same amount for a dedicated phone line that they'd normally pay if it was in their own house, plus their share of the ISP fee (which should be lower than a single dialup account, depending on how the ISP wants to charge for multilink access). However, each neighbor now has a semi-broadband connection available, as long as everyone isn't downloading simultaneously. If you want to download an ISO, just let everyone know, and do it when they won't be online.

      By the way, I was recently in Sandpoint, north of Coeur D'Alene, helping somebody move. It's COLD up there! We were glad to get back to Portland where it's much warmer.
  • Sharing Broadband (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rossjudson ( 97786 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:57PM (#5296624) Homepage
    Buying broadband is interesting and all that, but what about sharing it? When neighbors get together and link up with wireless and a hub, it's usually to avoid paying for another connection. What if both have a connection, and you have software that can join them together? Then you can get a nice doubling of speed. My neighbor can use my bandwidth when I'm not using it, and vice versa.

    If several people get together, you can put together a lot of bandwidth in a hurry. Neato.
    • Buying broadband is interesting and all that, but what about sharing it? When neighbors get together and link up with wireless and a hub, it's usually to avoid paying for another connection. What if both have a connection, and you have software that can join them together? Then you can get a nice doubling of speed. My neighbor can use my bandwidth when I'm not using it, and vice versa.

      I would have done this with a neighbouring company, but all the interested parties left both companies :)

      We wanted to each set up a squid cache so we could exchange cached objects between the caches. That way you don't have to be concerned about routing issues, or get pissy at the guys next door for using your bandwidth and theirs downloading binaries from usenet.

      If we had tech-savvy neighbours where we are now, I'd still consider it.

  • The Reg (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gavinsblog ( 642733 )
    The Reg covered this story back in December - its cool technology alright!
  • by Salsaman ( 141471 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @03:57PM (#5296629) Homepage
    According to this report [], the CEO of Juniper networks just labelled broadband users as "communists".
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:19PM (#5296788)
    The article never covered how much distance their Wi-Fi signals travel. If anyone has some links to how far the signal goes, i would thank you. Wouldn't a better idea be to put microwave receiving dishes on everyone's house ? You could get satellite and ground link microwave reception.Didn't the gov release some of the frequency for the public. We need to take back the radio spectrum from the government who just sells to highest bidder . It's a pure ripoff if you ask me. The radio spectrum should be FREE . It belongs to the people and not Corporate america .
    • In America, people buy resources from the govt. The land, for instance, is not the peoples, unless they paid the govt for it. Not sure how the the FCC gives out bandwidth, but they should chagre for people who want to broadcast off off their own property. This way the bandwidth isn't being wasted, but instead used for something that's worth at least the price being charged for the bandwidth, if the company is to remain in business. Your comment makes no sense because someone has to put up the satellite, and they should pay the govt. for the bandwidth, and sell you some of it at a profit. I believe this was MSs plan for awhile anyway.
  • ... is:

    To have software installed on each of these computers that are connected to the broadband access directly to monitor how much traffic they've sent and received that month.This should be simple enough to accomplish. I say this because if this thing really takes off, it won't be long before Telco's clue in and start charging per gig per month for direct broadband users. With such software the user willing to share his broadband connection to a comfortable threshold limit... say 50% of his 'free-bandwidth-before-he-has-to-pay-additional-ch arges-to-his-ISP-per-month'. This allows the wireless network to grow at a rate that is sustainable by the people willing to share their broadband access. It also encourages others who have direct broadband to share their connection with nearly ZERO risk of having to pay additional monthly charges. (this is sort of already done with Kazaa, where you can limit the upload speed, how many users can download from you etc.. only we'd need, max output per month, max speed per second, max users sharing service -- CONTROLS.)

    2) DONATION/PAYMENT AUTHENTICATION PROTOCOL: Imagine a wireless user turns on his laptop in an area with multiple shared broadband connections, a dialog box comes up displaying a list of 10 different connections he can choose from. This list would be sortable by: available speed, cost per gig, max users, etc. The laptop wireless user then can click on the cheapest connection, or the one with the most available bandwidth (if he has deeper pockets), and start surfing the net. The donation authentication protocol would allow the laptop user to automagically transfer funds from his paypal (or-insert-future-online- digital-fund-transfer-systems-here) to the broad band service provider (the user sharing his DSL/cable modem), and thus we have created:
    a) A cost per use wireless network
    b) A method to allow for individual directly broadband connected individuals to have free internet access (their monthly fees would be paid by their wireless customers)

    A WIN:WIN for everyone? I think so... even the telcos could benefit if they choose to start charging per gig.. that would just end up eventually defining more precisely the cost per meg/gig a wireless user would have to pay depending on the area he's in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 13, 2003 @04:59PM (#5297086)
    I'm already doing this. Off of three broadband lines I'm connecting over 15 households for a total of over 30 computers, and I'm making $150 profit per month to support the network. They get 100% reliable broadband for under half price (I have three different ISPs on two broadband types, so if one goes down, the rest can take over ... and their neighbor is the maintenance man for the network preventing uncomfortable calls to Verizon and Co.), I get cash. Another plus is that since they are students, I give them flexible billing. If they want to pay at the beginning or end of the month it's okay. If they miss a couple of months and then catch up later, its okay. If they don't pay for a few months I just drop them an IM to remind them, and they let me know what's up. I haven't had one completely delinquent bill yet, and considering that my customers are 18-26 years old, that is absolutely amazing.

    The other benefit is that since we're all college age, it makes for one hell of a gaming network. It's like a 24/7/365 Lan Party.

    The only downside is the load-balancing boxes I needed to buy ... pretty expensive, but I have a max bandwidth of about 10Mbps down/2Mbps up for $150. I can download like a mother when network traffic is low ....
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @05:01PM (#5297105) Homepage Journal
    DSL? Cable? Again? Oh no!

    I have much better idea to propose to landlords of big appartment buidlings:

    Make a deal with some good ISP, get a T1 from them to the building, put Linux server there in the building, and sell the connection to your tenants.

    Most of modern building have enough of C5 phone cables, so the access media should not be a problem. Otherwise - wireless.

    Tenants can have even own web servers. One option: if the landlord rents a class C subnet. Another option: use that Linux router as a frontend (NAT or proxy - your choice).

    I hate DHCP of most of DSL and cable providers. And it's hard to find good ISP with static address, high speed and low price. I think it's realistic to calculate the business model in a way to share that T1 for $40 per tenant monthly.

    • You would think that would work would ya? I know of an apartment complex here, my friend lives there, that offers free DSL access. They have a shared tier 3 (1.2 down/512 up) DSL line available to anyone who wants it for *free*. Just plug in your ethernet cable and go. Now out of 100 some apartments how many people do you think opt to use this *free* DSL? 4. Yep. 4. High speed internet just isn't a priority to alot of people apparently since you can't even give DSL away ...
      • Sounds like a marketing campaign needs to start. I know if I was looking for an apartment and it was priced in my range and had in BOLD large letters in the ad: INCLUDES FREE DSL! I'd be on that shit like a chicken on a junebug.

      • Give me that address - I wanna move there :)

        Seriously, if that building is in a good area of a megapolis (in some local mini "silicon valley") they can advertise the feature and meet many applications from students and geeks. Otherwise, I agree, it could be hard even to make people to use it.

        So, I can add to my original comment - don't forget to choose the right place.

        • They do advertise it as a selling point is the sad thing. Shrug. It is fairly close to downtown in a college type town (lincoln, nebraska) and the apartments aren't bad. It is odd that very few people use it.
          • Well, perhaps nebraska is not the best place for internet? I heard on another slashdot thread that from living style prospective nebraska and california are like two different continents, just occasionally sharing the same language and same president. No offence - such things happen in every country.

            I thought (in my proposals) about megapolicies like Bay Area, LA, Boston, NYC, Seattle, GTA etc.

            By the way, who is living in those appartments? Retired grandmas or students? Again, no offence to any social groups, but some social groups are more ready for Internet than the others. Was it in count by that landlord?

      • I can assure you that in a college town, it works :)

  • by blanks ( 108019 )
    One problem that most wireless ISP's or wireless projects have is the ability to charge users, and authenticate them.

    passym wireless routers [] has a great device that allows people to authenticate when they connect to your wireless network via their browser.

    They do charge a fee per month per router, but so far it's worked great for me.
  • by dprice ( 74762 ) <daprice&pobox,com> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:45PM (#5299056) Homepage

    So what is the performance of a mesh network built out of 802.11 nodes? Many people would say 11 Mbps to 54 Mbps minus the usual overhead depending on the type of 802.11 being used, but raw bandwidth is only a piece of the overall performance.

    I would think that latency would be the main limiter of a mesh network. The nodes would have to be placed relatively close together if built with off-the-shelf 802.11 equipment, so it would take quite a few hops to traverse any long distance. Each node would have to analyze and route the traffic which adds further latency.

    I also wonder what the scalability of a such mesh network is. As the mesh grows to a large number of nodes, I imagine that congested hot spots will develop which will add latency as traffic waits to be processed or has to route around the congestion. I wouldn't be surprised if packets could take minutes to get across country if only a mesh network is used.

    For a small number of nodes, the mesh probably provides a reasonable solution for small networks and for providing the "last mile" from a conventional wired internet connection. For latency tolerant applications like email, a larger mesh might be acceptable (anyone remember Fidonet?). I have my doubts that a large mesh could be used as an equivalent replacement for a wired internet.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.