I've heard the name Darwin Networks bandied about as the first of what would be many enforcement actions against operators of wireless Wi-Fi and related networks. The story goes that Darwin was told to shut down a network because Part 97 amateur operators (hams) complained about interference at a Dallas, Texas, apartment complex. As primary and secondary licensed users of various chunks of the 2.4 GHz band -- see yesterday's post and more to come -- hams have the right to cite interference, and the FCC has the right to shut down the interferers.
As I've dug deeper, however, this single case appears much shallower than I originally expected. The bare facts are that a letter was sent February 8, 2001, by Riley Hollingsworth, who, as special counsel to the Enforcement Bureau of the FCC, writes these sorts of letters to violators. Hollingsworth makes numerous appearances at ham gatherings, too, to help inform them of their rights and responsibilities. I have left a message for him to clarify where I can find a copy of this letter officially.
However, searching Google and following up on sources, I found the following interesting facts.
- The only place the story about Darwin Networks receiving a letter appears at the ARRL (national amateur radio society) site (here) with a dateline of Newington, CT, the HQ of the ARRL. This is not a wire service story, but appears to have been reported in house.
- Darwin Networks wasn't issued an order, but was sent a cease and desist letter.
- The issuance of this letter and any other related enforcement action does not appear in the log the FCC offers publicly for 2001 orders. Since this wasn't an order, I believe, I also checked public notices of field actions. I also searched the site and examined other separate databases on the site. No matches for this letter.
- I have found a copy of the letter typed in on a random site that no longer carries it, but I have referenced the Google cache. Also, his name does not appear on the archives (via The Internet Archive) of the Darwin Web site. A list of press releases that show prominent hirings (CIO, CEO, etc.) fail to list him as well.
- The only place the CTO of Darwin Networks, Jeff Wellenmeyer, is listed in any form appears to be in articles related to the Hollingsworth letter at the ARRL site. It's odd for a CTO to appear in that limited a fashion in the Internet age.
- Every other reference to the Darwin Networks letter refers back to the ARRL story.
- There is no follow-up to the letter either on the ARRL site or elsewhere on the Web.
- Darwin Networks appears to no longer be in business, but continued in business for several months after the letter was sent. The letter asked for a response in 10 business days. The Internet Archive has a news release from an archived copy of Darwin's site that indicates the company filed for bankruptcy in January 2001, but was in operation at least through April 2001.
- The attorney cited in the letter, Terry Cavanaugh, is not listed on the current roster of attorneys at the firm noted in the letter and article.
It's possible with the company shut down, the FCC didn't pursue the matter. But there should be a record somewhere of the letter and the individuals involved. Or even the hams who filed the complaint.
If anyone has some specifics: an actual copy of the letter, a news story with primary citations (not quoting the ARRL story verbatim or mentioning that story in passing as a News.com story did), or other information, please contact me. It's ironic that the only and most prominently discussed case of an interference problem between hams and Wi-Fi appears to have no documentation.
Other News for 5/15/2002
David Pogue reviews Bluetooth's state of the art: Pogue's NY Times column is an accurate and astute run-down of the potential and current reality of Bluetooth. I was able to test Palm synching this week, myself, using an m125, the Palm Bluetooth Card for the SD slot, and the D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter for Mac OS X. It's pretty wonderful when it's all hooked up. He also has a nifty rundown of available Bluetooth add-ons and adapters.