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The Future of Wireless Connectivity 123

Unimonomous writes "CoolTechZone.com analyzes the future of wireless connectivity with WiMax standard. "WiMax is an upgrade from Wi-Fi and offers brilliant advantages over its predecessor. The obvious one being extended range (up to 15 miles), which means that establishing a few towers would pretty much make the entire city connected. Now this probably won't matter to those of us with 24/7 connectivity, but people living in rural and undeveloped areas would surely benefit from it." Update looks like the site buckled. Sorry.
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The Future of Wireless Connectivity

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:29PM (#13837484)

    Looks like CoolTechZone is down...second story today that the referenced article was unavailable...

    Anyway, just so we have something to talk about...here's some info on WiMAX:

  • Wireless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by certel ( 849946 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:30PM (#13837487) Homepage
    Wireless connectivity will open a lot of windows for future products. As mentioned in as EBay article regarding voice calls being free in the future, things like wireless networks will definitely make that a reality.
    • At least we all hope. At the pace that our technology is increasing we will most definatly have more than that comming soon. Wireless companies are just giving some stuff away now days!
      • If Apple moves to steaming podcasting, the will definitely be a market to join. People are going to be walking around with full TV shows, come Microsoft IP TV. How lazy are we? :)
        • apparently we are gettign more lazy everyday, and that is where our technology s helping us! And why, may i ask, do we need to have portable Televisions now? Especially small ones? What ever happened to Family Television time each day?
          • As technology increases, family time decreases. Would anyone like to submit a equation? :)
          • What ever happened to Family Television time each day?

            The fifties ended a long time ago...
            • what i meant was the fact that families arent spending much time with each other at all lately. I dont know about any of you, but my parents are either at work or at the bar, so im all alone in the house all of the time! It's quite boring and i do wish that they wouldn't so the whole family television time thing was jst like whatever happened to when we used to have time when we all did family activities or did something creative that didnt have to do with sitting on our asses.
    • Re:Wireless (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And when the aliens invade, it'll make it that much easier to cut off our communication.

      Think about it for a moment.
    • Is the call really free if you have to pay for wireless connectivity?

      In the past my local phone calls were "free" by paying a monthly fee for service to connect my device (a phone) to the network (the telco switched network)

      Today my long distance calls are "free" by paying a monthly fee to connect my radio device (labeled a cel-phone) to a wireless network of similar phones

      Tomorrow my voice and data transmissions will be "free" by paying a monthly fee to connect my radio device (now labeled a computer

    • but will i be able to play battlefield 2 lag free without having to connect the old fashioned ethernet cable?
  • by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <mister.sketch@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:30PM (#13837488)
    mossession::store failed
    DB function failed with error number 1062
    Duplicate entry '1-' for key 2 SQL=INSERT INTO mos_session ( `session_id`,`time`,`guest` ) VALUES ( '99c38d82aea6757aa4798255c8c4f8d6','1129829336','1 ' )
  • The Only Downside (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:30PM (#13837492) Homepage Journal
    Is if my current ISP makes purchase a new antenna/modem. I shelled out $400 for the one I'm currently using so the thought of having a new equipment bill doesn't excite me much.

    That said, it would be nice if I can get higher bandwidth for the same price. When they did an equipment upgrade at their network tower, I received twice the bandwidth for the same price (still a bit pricey at $65/month).
    • The submitting author said that it probably won't matter to those of us with 24x7 connectivity. So people like you and me, who have 24x7 connectivity over wireless already, clearly won't be affected by things like equipment changes or pricing. You ovbiously have nothing to worry about. :)
    • "I shelled out $400 for the one I'm currently using"

      jesus. for that much, i hope they at least took a sharpie and wrote 'cisco' somewhere on it.

  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:32PM (#13837508)
    The added range will help, but there's lots of antennas out there that will give you good reliability over long distances.

    The bigger problem is line of sight distances. I've done some testing with this and have the advantage of living on top of a very big hill, within view of DSL - about 5km over a lake. We've gotten connections with very crude antennas already using GPS to line things up reasonably well.

    The big limitation has always been line of sight, and WiMax does nothing to change this - and might hurt, if it fragments 802.11b. Wimax (802.16?) is not compatible with .11, and I'm not sure it will succeed.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      And the LOS problem along with stupid regulations (banning of towers in the entire county for example where I'm at). Are going to hold back it regardless. No matter how many fancy tricks you throw at it, 2.4+ spectrum isn't going to work well in a non-line of sight setup.

      That and Wi-Max 802.16d is already considered a dead tech with 802.16e being its replacement. 802.16e is currently being targeted at only licensed bands, (2.5, 3.2, etc) which means big companies are the ones that will be able to do it,
    • Wimax doesn't require line of sight.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wimax [wikipedia.org]

      In fact, aside from IR, I don't recall any standard wireless communication that was only limited to line of sight. Obviously, density and EM radiation attenuation properties of the objects between sending and receiving antenna will affect the range and signal strength. But that doesn't mean it won't go through walls.
      • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:21PM (#13837947)

        It should be noted that these claims, especially that such distances can be achieved without line of sight, represent, at best, a theoretical maximum under ideal circumstances

        Line of sight is ALWAYS going to be required in that frequency spectrum, unless you are very close or at very high power levels.
      • Wimax doesn't require line of sight.

        No, but you must be damn close to line of sight (you must be NLOS - near line of sight). And you need something for signals to reflect off of. WiMax is able to handle multipathing and multipath distortion of signals.

        But that doesn't mean it won't go through walls.

        When we're talking about RF frequencies above 1 GHz, if the relevant signals goes right through a wall from transmitter to receiver, you have line of sight for it. Line of sight means the signal is going from
    • The big limitation has always been line of sight, and WiMax does nothing to change this
      For the same reason, I predict that cellphones will never catch on.
    • Wall hack
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:32PM (#13837509) Journal
    The BBC is running an article [bbc.co.uk] about the ongoing debate about municipal wi-fi in the US.
    "Recent figures suggest that since 2000, the US has dropped from third to 16th among nations worldwide in terms of per capita broadband access. Bob Hale, owner of American Onion, shows how he uses a laptop with wireless capabitlities from a remote, rural site at his onion fields in Hermiston, Oregon

    Studies suggest that 86% of households with income of more than $75,000 have broadband access. But the share is just 38% for those with an income of less than $30,000.

    Huge areas of US countryside outside major towns and cities are also poorly served.

    Ironically, one of the frontiers of wireless accessibility is found in a rural swathe of Oregon, which is thought to have one of the world's largest wireless hotspots. "

    • Sadly the current political climate in the US seems to be that if a few company can make a small short time profit by doing things that hasten the US's fall from being the superpower to a 2nd world nation; then we are all for it. Profit at any price.

      Reminds me of the bumper sticker "If your not outraged, your not paying attention."

    • ...since 2000, the US has dropped from third to 16th among nations worldwide in terms of per capita broadband access.

      It's not so much the US has 'dropped', but rather other countries are moving up faster.

      If you got a 10% raise, and other workers got a 13% raise, you wouldn't say your salary has 'dropped', would you?

      • If you got a 10% raise, and other workers got a 13% raise, you wouldn't say your salary has 'dropped', would you?

        Well, yes, because if most people get a raise there will be inflation. Another example: if your tribe only has spears and the next tribe over suddenly acquires gunpowder, your spears don't protect you any more (even though the spears didn't change overnight).

        I think the implication is that connectivity contributes to long-term technical and economic superiority. (And I happen to agree, whet

    • But the share is just 38% for those with an income of less than $30,000.

      Households with incomes under $30k are probably spending their money on more important items than broadband access. Unless the BBC means access to broadband, but I doubt it.

  • What about security? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by d'oh89 ( 859382 ) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:37PM (#13837549)
    Ok, let's say 5 years down the road most folks use WiMax for internet connectivity along the same lines of coverage that broadband follows. How secure are those connections going to be? With my cable modem at least i can stick a firewall between me and all the nasties out there. What I can't imagine is how Joe Schmoe is going to protect his PC enough so that he doesn't get comprimised by a hacker/slacker. People have enough of a time configuring their wireless routers...Now imagine having to connect to a tower 5 miles away where there's a lot of ohter folks doing the same thing. What can one do to protect themselves?
    • Why do you assume that Joe Schmoe won't be able to use a firewall just as he does now? For people at home, they could have a router connected to the WiMAX network, and then have their own 802.11b/g lan for their home behind a firewall on said router. Alternatively, there are always software firewalls, and I'm sure some clever wireless adapter manufacturers will soon also start building little hardware firewalls directly into the adapters themselves.
    • What can one do to protect themselves?

      Simple. Buy a Mac laptop with OS X and turn the firewall on. ;)

      But seriously, Joe Schmoe is just as likley to get infected on his DSL line than WiFi because they most likley haven't bought a hardware firewall much less a normal NAT router. If I was leary about my windows boxen being directly on the internet via wifi, I'd buy a Wifi bridge and run a cable it through a NAT/Firewall Router directly to windows box, but I doubt Joe would go that far. His only hope is that th
      • Sure, Joe Schmoe might not know everything he needs to protect himself, but there are a couple of reasons he might have a hardware firewall anyway
        • Most WiFi boxes have firewalls in them (at least dumb NAT). It's often enabled by default and hard to turn *off*.
        • If Joe's got more than one computer, he'd probably got a NAT box so he can run all of them at once (unless he's doing that with Wifi, in which case see the previous item.)
        • NAT firewall boxes are as cheap as hubs these days, and have big scary adve
    • What I can't imagine is how Joe Schmoe is going to protect his PC enough so that he doesn't get comprimised by a hacker/slacker.

      Or a code cracker?
    • Just like your cable companies, wireless providers like the company I work for have already figured this out. The people getting on our servers get a "modem" that connects to the wireless. I know it's just a bridge with an amplifier in it, but the customers don't care as long as they get their "modem box thingy". We've configured it to attach only to our SSID with WPA. When they get online, they have to enter in their username and password, and off they go. We put a little box on their roof, and they g
  • by Mashdar ( 876825 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:40PM (#13837571)
    but people living in rural and undeveloped areas would surely benefit from it

    Unless you are talking about automating your farm equipment with wifi, I doubt many rural areas will see this until far into the future.

    Who is going to pay to set up a tower to give 20 people internet? The reason wimax is so attractive in cities is the user density. I suppose the point is that it is cheaper than laying new land lines in rural areas (where broadband capable lines may be absent)?
    It doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon, though. And there is still the matter of wiring the towers. Unless you wanted them to route signals wirelessly... I wouldn't want to risk my data travelling hundreds of miles over air. Fifteen is bad enough.
    • Who is going to pay to set up a tower to give 20 people internet?

      Good point, but then why is the world's largest wireless cloud in rural Oregon?

      Seems to me that we should pay less attention to trying to tell people what they want and how they should all wear the latest fashion and use the latest $2000 laptop and more time in noticing that they are buying hybrid cars instead of SUVs, buying $500 laptops with Linux or BSD instead of $2000 laptops, and maybe they want to install high-speed wireless in rural ar
    • Really, I think you misunderstand Rural. We are not talking about BFE, where your neighbor is the driveway 10 miles down the dirt road. Rural in the US seems to be pretty much any town less than 100,000. (At least out here in the west). My rural town (Klamath Falls, OR) is 40k people, living in one basin, but with lots of sprawl. Lots are huge here, 1 acre lots in the middle of town are not uncommon at all. This is an old town, with very old infrastructure. (its actually very similar to Hermiston,OR
    • A rural ISP would piggy back on existing towers. Even in the backwoods there are towers for radio stations, businesses, cellular telephone, etc.
      • A rural ISP would piggy back on existing towers. Even in the backwoods there are towers for radio stations, businesses, cellular telephone, etc.

        Good luck getting space on those towers. Cellular phone towers are often owned by the telephone company which doesn't like competition (or future competition) with DSL. Radio tower owners can be outrageous in their rental fees and many states have confusing enforcement of power/telephone-poles being used for other telecommunications purposes.


    • Well, my main internet connection is wireless (not WiFi or WiMax, however) since I am in the exurbs. I telecommute and need the high speed. I cannot get DSL or cable at my location - even though I actually live within commuting distance of MS, Boeing, and other Seattle hi-tech companies. The service ( http://www.waverider.com/ [waverider.com]) has worked well, with only one half-hour outage in the last six months. I have 1Mb/s bidirectional, although the company has newer 2 Mb/s equipment now. Still not the same as cable, b
    • Who is going to pay to set up a tower to give 20 people internet?

      Don't be a dickhead, it would be quite easy to set up bases in the town centers which do have the population, then set up repeaters to the outlying areas.
  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#13837610) Homepage
    Is that some folk who live in hilly or mountainous regions where you would have to have lots of access points to ensure any sort of decent coverage. Probably one of the reason people are looking at airship transmitters.

    Some folk in our area can't get anything as they are too remote for lines, to hily for towers and those same hills and trees block sattelite access.

  • by Safe Sex Goddess ( 910415 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#13837611) Homepage Journal
    WiMAX is of interest to those in urban areas who are working to provide universal net access to even those who can't afford $50/month. I think Municipalities could probably find ways to offer free wireless internet in their communities if they are creative. For example, they could offer free municipal wireless with the excuse that they want to provide job search capabilities to everyone in their community. Also providing access to any local, state, or .gov site. And what about include access to any non-profit site, and also to any site offering free e-mail. Add a little peer-to-peer networking between people using the same free networks and who needs any corporate advertisements or sites or access to the "private subscriber" side of the internet?
    • This would be a good work-around to get people connected for free. Especially to the people who need the local, state and government sites you've suggested.

      You know that once the peer-to-peer networking starts it only takes a few people who pay for the Internet to open up their machines to route people from the free wireless within the community to the entire Internet. Eventually, this would turn into a huge ad-hoc network and keep expanding.
    • I think Municipalities could probably find ways to offer free wireless internet in their communities if they are creative.

      Municipalities could offer any service, like water/power/etc for "free" if they get creative... but most prefer not to. There are required "free" services like police, fire, etc, and there are "frivilous" free services, like street lights, water fountains, parks, etc...

      In the case of the parks/water/lights make the area more user-friendly. They /might/ consider offering Wi-Fi in parks
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#13837615) Journal
    and they all relate to regulations. The FCC has, so far, taken a hands off approach to regulation of data services, both wireless and wired. This approach is having an effect of establishing new networks, or seems to be. The problem is that all these new networks are being built by companies that plan to make money from distributing digital content... and we ALL know how sticky that problem is. For instance, music and video distribution is tightly being strangled by the *AA, and MS is trying to get in on the game too, with DRM'd content. All of these efforts are good, and believe me, WiMax is a *GOOD* thing.

    The problems are content and distribution. Right now, plans are being made for IPTV and radio, and many many things that are digital in nature, all of which make life better or easier to cope with. Still, copyright and patent law will fsck it up if changes are not made now... Later is no good, the changes need to be made now....

    two cents used
  • eeeeeeeeew! (Score:2, Informative)

    Nothing worse than exposing your php/mysql site with an error message. Hello.... security?

    (let's hope the website is fixed soon)
    • yes, there is something worse... covering up the error messages so even you don't know about the bugs (seriously... I have to work on someone else's code and everywhere I turn there's a SERIOUS security issue.)
  • After the FCC ruling [slashdot.org] regarding DSL lines, this might be a way for Internet providers to keep providing high-speed network connections once the telecoms close off their DSL lines and refuse to provide them for the other ISPs.
  • But didn't I read somewhere that the Feds/FCC were going to open up some of the UHF/VHF frequencies currently used for TV broadcasts? Wouldn't that allow even better coverage?

    Seems to me that the problem with WiFi and even WiMax is that they use such high frequencies, that the signal can't get "through" much of anything. Trees are enough to screw up the signal. If they could use freqencies in the ~100 Mhz range that VHF TV broadcasts use, they would be able to go through most stuff. Seems to me like that is
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will large ISPs be able to provide high-speed access at current prices if municipalities provide lower speed access for free? I get the sense that many ISPs will decide that they can't make any money providing access to a limited number of customers who want truely high-speed access everyone will be stuck using the "free" service provided by the government. How much insentive will they have to keep making the service better?
  • no people (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:06PM (#13837800)
    "Now this probably won't matter to those of us with 24/7 connectivity, but people living in rural and undeveloped areas would surely benefit from it"

    The problem is that there are not enough people in those areas to make it profitable.
  • Overhyped (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Just from the intro (site still buckled) it sounds like an overly hyped analysis of 802.16. Sure, the technology promises to provide wireless broadband to the masses and to some extent that is correct, however 15 miles is probably referring to a point-to-point and point-to-multipoint connectivity from a base station to basestation architecture. 802.16e, or, the mobile side of WiMax is the ultimate end user standard not yet finalized (e.t.a. 2007). This standard has much less range - typically 3 miles or les
    • How does this footprint differ from cellular broandband?

      Who the hell cares?

      Cellular broadband is under the thumb of cellphone companies. If you think that's not a deal-killer for any hope of sane pricing right there, you must work for a cellphone company -- in their sales department. Nobody else would possibly be willing to shut down their critical facilities to that degree.

      the growing cellular broadband market

      The what?
  • We have to admit that we're in the Dark Ages of information sharing.

    In the U.S., a ton of bandwidth is wasted (regulated) to antiquated technology. OTA analog and/i> digital television frequencies are two decades outdated. Lower "open" frequencies (old cordless phones, etc) are underutilized.

    Information is like a river at a dam ready to break. Once we free up the limitations on frequencies, we'll see so many wireless forms of communication that publicly paid WiFi will be too expensive to compete.

    In my
  • 50W at microwave frequencies sitting on your lap sounds like a bad idea. 300W boils water in under 6 minutes when contained in a microwave oven. I'm not springing for this upgrade...
  • by tji ( 74570 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @04:39PM (#13839188)
    When thinking about what WiMax will offer us, I am not sure what all the advantages will be. Obviously, the current Wireless network ISPs will be able to support a much larger area, making them a lot more useful.

    Beyond that, you have all the same limitations as current ISPs (i.e. I don't see this giving me a low cost 30Mbps connection.. hopefully DSL or Cable will eventually do this).

    But, in relatively dense areas, I see some cool possibilities in community networks. In these, we don't worry about a big pipe to the Internet, which would be expensive. We just join a local network and share resources at high speeds.

    As it is now, if i leave my upload speed reasonable on P2P apps, it quickly swamps my outbound bandwidth and all my Internet access goes to crap. P2P networks, file servers, could be a lot more useful at high LAN speeds -- and most people would be more willing to serve at high speeds when it doesn't effect their Internet connection.

    Even sharing huge files, like HDTV programs, could be feasible on the local networks.

    Link a few of these WiMax networks together, and you can get some huge alternate networks, where people provide useful services for their communities. Without bandwidth costs, it becomes very cheap.. I can easily set up a Linux box to dedicate to this network for a couple hundred bucks.
  • FiMax (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @04:59PM (#13839360) Homepage Journal
    WiFi offers maybe 110Mbps in a 700m radius. WiMax offers maybe 650Mbps in 24000m radius. That's 71bps:m for WiFi vs. 0.36bps:m for WiMax . WiFi is 200x as dense as WiMax. Rural areas have much larger areas which don't account for bandwidth usage, with big users every few miles. While urban areas have much more even distribution of consumption - even stacking 3-4 layers per meter, sometimes 20-50+ layers (like urban centers like Manhattan). Real consumption shows that WiMax is better for rural areas, or long backhauls (attenuated into beams that can carry the network maybe hundreds of miles across gaps like open water). Even in rural areas, WiFi is better for the hotspots, like actual buildings or vehicles. While in urban areas, even public places like streets are very dense, with 655Mbps shared by hundreds of people every block.

    So WiFi isn't exactly an "upgrade" to WiFi. It's a complementary technology. Even throttling down the power to cover only a few blocks with each WiMax AP to use its higher bandwidth is only useful as a connection "umbrella" to interconnect denser WiFi hotspots in buildings and cars. Which is also appropriate, because users in public places are usually mobile or casual, without the bandwidth demands of a stationary user. WiMax marketers are selling it as an upgrade to WiFi because WiFi is such a popular brand name, and WiMax has to sell to anyone who will buy. But we should get excited only about the WiMax features that are actually better than WiFi in the scenarios where WiFi is now the round peg in the square hole. Otherwise we'll be sorely disappointed when inappropriate WiMax applications underperform even WiFi, and we'll be stuck with the wrong solution - and the marketdroids will be stuck with our money, without which we can't buy what we actually want.
  • I wish tech press would discard the PR-driven myth that WiMAX is an upgrade to WiFi.

    WiMAX is a different thread in the IEEE technical standards, designed to accomplish different things. WiFi's upgrade path is not from 802.11g to 802.16, but to the partly-completed 802.11n.

    The 802.11n standard is designed for faster wireless LANs - which is a different market to the WiMAX wireless local loop target.
  • With a maximum distance of about 25 km, there should be no problem to build a large network within a city or even smaller villages. The hubs should not be owned by a company, they should be owned by people like you and me. Why pay a company for something that we can do for the cost of a hub and network card? All we need are a few access points with internet connection. Maybe cities realize the potential behind this idea and provide those access points for free. The rest will grow like poison ivy. New servic
  • Those of us in rural and undeveloped areas will continue to have the same problems if/when wimax actually happens. o) Customer density. Providers will set up service where they have high customer density. I could have DSL here, but Verizon can't be bothered to update the antiquated equipment in the site that serves me. They similarly can't be bothered to put a cell tower near me. o) Rural and undeveloped areas tend to have trees and hills, that will continue to be problems for wireless last-mile technol
  • There's this really informative and useful tech-oriented site called cooltechzone.com, wo why don't we slashdot the fucking daylights out of 'em!
  • Earlier this week the NY Times ran a piece on the emergence of broadband over power lines (BPL) and it looks pretty promising. There are successful tests being run now in Manassas VA and in the Cincinnatti area. Essentially users will plug a sort-of power brick into an outlet, then plug an ether line into that. That procedure says to me thatit'll exhibit many of the same operational characteristics as broadband over cable, so we'd not have the signal flakiness and security issues associated with WiMAX. Ind

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