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Recent Entries

Jacobs, You Well-Informed Slut
Reason Prevails in New Hampshire
Voice over Wi-Fi
New York's Hot Zones
Sheryl Crow-Fi
Proxim's a/b/g Card
Ashland, Newbury (Boston), New York
Blanketing Soho with Wi-Fi
Several Wi-Fi Firms Receive WPA Certification

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April 2003 Archives

April 29, 2003

Jacobs, You Well-Informed Slut

By Glenn Fleishman

Sky Dayton (Boingo) and Irwin Jacobs (Qualcomm) present alternative views in parallel interviews: Jacobs thinks that the Wi-Fi trump cards don't reflect reality; Dayton points out the wide world to conquer with Wi-Fi.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:06 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media


By Glenn Fleishman

The big N+I show is this week...and what's the news? I'm not at N+I, though I suppose I should go some year. The pre-show buzz was that seven companies would be showing wireless LAN switches, only two of which had preannounced (Trapeze and, I think, Vivato). As a one-man band here at Wi-Fi Networking News, the amount of news is so overwhelming, that I'll be waiting for the summaries in the enterprise trade pubs and link to them with my usual analysis instead of trying to overview every last WLAN switch that appears -- unless there's something unique.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:27 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise | 1 Comment

Reason Prevails in New Hampshire

By Glenn Fleishman

New Hampshire might legalize freeloading...of a sort: New Hampshire's legislature is reviewing a bill that would make it not a crime to be on someone else's unsecured network. Committee Chairman Andrew Peterson said the goal of the proposed law is to protect those who innocently stumble upon insecure wireless networks. They want to make sure they don't reduce the opportunity to prosecute for hacking or vandalism, but those activities can happen over any network.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:39 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Voice over Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Voice over Wi-Fi from Cisco and SpectraLink: Cisco releases Cisco-access-point only phones, their first generation, while SpectraLink ships models in their third generation that work with several enterprise AP systems.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:56 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise | 1 Comment

New York's Hot Zones

By Glenn Fleishman

New York opens up hot zones in City Hall Park, Bowling Green Park, and Rector Park later this week: More areas to follow. One of NYC Wireless's founders, Anthony Townsend, is building out this service at a sweet price as part of the commercial side of his life. This is a grand experiment in a dense area. I hope many statistics will be released.

There's another huge area in New York that has an unannounced but soon to be revealed hot zone project in the works. I won't be coy. It's Central Park. This is widely known. Some of the details will be interesting. [via TechDirt]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:52 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 2 Comments

Sheryl Crow-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile-ize yourself and get some free Sheryl Crow music: If synergy combines two companies, is this trinergy? Starbucks, T-Mobile, Sheryl Crow, HP, and, oh, I don't know, Ned Flanders combine for this special offer of some free samples and then some free music if you sign up. [via Dave Sifry]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:47 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Proxim's a/b/g Card

By Glenn Fleishman

Proxim introduces Orinoco 11a/b/g ComboCard: The card comes in silver ($90) and gold ($110) flavors, perpetuating a distinction that's more confusing than necessary. The 802.11b silver and gold were 40 and 128-bit WEP, respectively. The ComboCard offers profiles and some kind of unexplained power management in gold (enterprise), and neither in silver (home).

The power management appears to be TPC (transmit power control), one of two elements that are part of 802.11h, the European compliance extension for 802.11a.

Oddly, the press release for this says that WPA certification will arrive in third quarter, while the Wi-Fi Alliance announced several WPA certified products from multiple vendors today.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:30 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware

Ashland, Newbury (Boston), New York

By Glenn Fleishman

A nice round-up in a Nokia publication about several community networking efforts: This is apparently a Nokia-developed publication, and the article sets the right tone for the utility, cost, and nature of community networks.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:52 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Community Networking

Blanketing Soho with Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

London's Soho to be bathed in Wi-Fi: Several articles, such as this one, report on the plan for London's City of Westminster Council to spend a pile of money to become a Wi-Fi provider for public safety and private use. Coincidentally, this morning's New York Times had a story about the same council aggressively enforcing anti-dance rules in clubs without the right permit. Apparently, the noise enforcement mentioned in the Register article is quite severe because of the combination of trendy clubs and wealthy homeowners. Keep that darned racket down!

Also, England is a big deployer of CCTV (closed circuit television): cameras are practically everywhere, being monitored for lawless behavior. Opinions vary on whether this is a good thing (it reduces crime, but only where it's being observed) or a bad thing (police state). The press release sent out from the council quoted the councilor whose idea this is as saying, For example, we could expand our CCTV coverage at a fraction of the current cost without the need for traditional connections. Not only that but officers would be able have access to CCTV and other data observation and collection points.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:46 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 Comment

Several Wi-Fi Firms Receive WPA Certification

By Glenn Fleishman

Several chipmakers and manufacturers receive Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) certification from Wi-Fi Alliance: The first wave includes products from Atheros Communications, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Intel, Intersil, and Symbol Technologies.

If you read Broadcom's press release, however, you can see as SmallNetBuilder points out, that there's no information about when the WPA certification firmware will roll into partner products. Microsoft has already pushed out their WPA update for XP. Apple is not mentioned in the release, nor has it revealed its plans.

Broadcom gets in a little dig at its competitors, because Broadcom's g and a/g chipsets include hardware-accelerated AES support, which is the next-generation encryption key that will be an option in 802.11i: Broadcom future proofs customers by eliminating the need for costly hardware upgrades when 802.11i is introduced. In contrast, products running software-based AES may experience severe performance degradation and will likely require new hardware or full product replacement to employ 802.11i properly.

On the flip side, I have heard that host-based AES processing won't necessary be as huge a load as anticipated. It'll shake out when companies start testing the idea: before then, there's too much variability to speculate.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:29 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Security

April 28, 2003

Fortune Mag Spotlights Hot Spots

By Glenn Fleishman

Fortune magazine contrasts Surf and Sip with Cometa: Staff writer Matthew Boyle nails a story on the disconnects in the hot spot world, and revelas a few very interesting facts. Bottom line: the folks pouring money into hot spots have a loose idea of where the profit is; their partners, real-estate venues and chains and small shops, don't have a real commitment in most cases to making money off hot spot service. The conflict: can someone like Rick Ehrlinspiel of Surf and Sip actually turn a buck from the bottom up by focusing on the revenue part of the equation with his partners, or will the mass drop out of the sky of 20,000 Cometa points turn hot spot service into a ubiquitous necessity for which the price is right?

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:43 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media

April 25, 2003

Unstrung Analyzes Access Point "Weight"

By Glenn Fleishman

Unstrung looks at the debate over intelligence and standards in access points: There's a movement afoot to set some standards in dumb APs that offload some or all of their intelligence to a wireless LAN switch. Some folks think that more standards are unnecessary if everything is built correctly. Others feel that coordination of standards would allow less pain (and potentially more interoperability).

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:36 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise

April 24, 2003

BAWUG Meeting: Atheros Drivers, Sputnik

By Glenn Fleishman

I sat in on the Bay Area Wireless User's Group (BAWUG) meeting tonight in Santa Clara.

Atheros drivers for FreeBSD, Linux: Sam Leffler has a special relationship with Atheros that has allowed him to code the missing piece needed to create Linux and FreeBSD drivers for their a, a/b, a/g cards.

Sam had to agree to handle the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and not release the code he wrote for that component because Atheros uses a software defined radio (SDR). The company (and any individuals involved) could face huge headaches if they released code that allowed direct and simple manipulation of the SDR to work outside of a, b, or g ranges. He'll have precompiled binaries for many processors.

So Sam is the gatekeeper for the hardware layer, but he's exposed most of the hardware features through this layer to the open-source part of the drivers. He's has a tacit commitment to get his driver incorporated into the FreeBSD code tree, which means that FreeBSD in the future will include his driver; he's also revised the code to work in a native form within Linux.

Will it support Mac OS X, asks Cliff Skolnick? Apple's latest iteration of the operating system has the right pieces in the right places to make it.

Dave Sifry of Sputnik: Sputnik makes managed access points that use a central management system to identify new devices and configure them, and then manage configuration across a network. The approach allows users to be tracked across Sputnik APs; the authentication and associated policies walk with them as they roam.

Their reference access point they're selling at cost because their goal is to get their code preinstalled in access points by manufacturers; Actiontec has done this already. They sell per-AP licenses for their controller software.

Dave is also showing an unreleased box that will allow you to put non-Sputnik APs behind it, on one Ethernet port, to offer the same authentication controls. More to come.

Question on fat/thin access points: roaming? Layer 3. When you roam, you reassociate, but you keep the same IP. What about Vernier, ReefEdge, Bluesocket, etc.: how it differentiates? Dave says, all these solutions are dumb radios with a smart switch. Can't obtain same management/policy information. Not scalable: switch limitations (your 21st AP on a Vernier requires a whole 'nother switch). Cost averaged per AP could be $600 for switch-based solutions, and $200 for Sputnik solution. Question: who's the market? A: Small to medium-sized businesses as well as community networks.

Dave demoes Central Control management interface, showing granularity of network restriction, user account creation and management, statistic generation. Relies on open-source software with open interfaces: MySQDL, Open LDAP, Jabber -- that's right, a chat program is used (via secured transport) to communicate between APs and the Central Control. The management interface even has a SQL query box if you want to run your own queries.

Q: RADIUS support? A: In the pipeline, LDAP only today, but RADIUS is top of list.

Q: VLAN support? A: Not in the current version, but Layer 3 policy control offers enough of same benefits on the front end (not the backhaul) as to make VLAN support unnecessary at least in this context.

Q: Policy options? A: More options available through backend, but UI is the complex factor. Need to thrash out UI.

Comment from audience: SSL "dead man" switch doesn't avoid man-in-the-middle attack that allows redirection of packets that don't include SSL.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:52 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Community Networking | 1 Comment

More Manhattan Wireless Maps

By Glenn Fleishman

Marcos Lara releases more maps of Manhattan, integrating census data, other details: Public Internet Project researcher Marcos Lara has released a variety of larger maps showing details of where wireless access points are found in Manhattan. He's overlaid census data of income levels, and broken out some interesting maps, such as showing which of Columbia University's access points are visible from the street. Lara has also exposed more of his methodology, such as his driving path.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:47 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Politics

April 23, 2003

Mapping the Wireless Revolution

By Glenn Fleishman

This map robs us of the attention we're trying to desperately to conserve: Schuyler Erle and Rich Gibson are talking about how maps tell stories in their session at the Emerging Technology conference.

The bold line above is Schuyler's reaction to a map that had an enormous amount of detail, but didn't tell their story. What they have as a goal is using mapping software and GIS (Geographic Information Systems or data:map software) to be able to overlay their wireless systems and connections onto geographical systems to tell the stories they have.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:05 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unique | 1 Comment

Poland Gets Hot Spots

By Glenn Fleishman

Competition is underway to build hot spots after first hotel offers service: Wi-Fi blooms the world over, and the Novotel Hotel in Warsaw adding Wi-Fi apparently has spurred two mobile operators in the country to figure out their own plans. Estonia has far outpaced Poland so far -- you can tell there might be a little national pride at stake here, too.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:31 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 Comment

Boeing Says Connexion a Success

By Glenn Fleishman

Boeing says that their test Frankfurt-to-Dulles in-flight Connexion broadband service tested out well: The three-month trial is over, and Boeing says that 50 to 80 passengers per flight availed themselves of the service and post-flight surveys showed that 95 percent were successful. My understanding is that they weren't charging during this test, but let's imagine they were. (Also, you couldn't use your own Wi-Fi card: only a single obscure card was approved; you had to borrow cards or use the business/first-class wired connections.)

Let's say 75 people per flight at $35 per flight and one plane can do a turnaround on that flight once per day, or two flights (once there, once back). That's $5,250 per cycle. Let's say that they get about 10 flights per week, or $52,500 dollars. 52 weeks a year is $2,730,000.

Now reality: planes are taken out of service for regular maintenance. Minor problems may make service unavailable at times. Some flights will be less full. After the initial interest, regular travelers may stop using the service on every flight. Let's say that they can eke a gross of $750,000 to $1,000,000 per year for that one plane.

Retrofitting a plane is expensive, potentially exceeding that $1,000,000. The cost is per plane not per route: you have to equip every possible plane because travelers will come to expect it.

The real money, however, may be in yield demand management. That is, if the airlines continue their insane pricing models in which, to quote Dave Barry, no two people on a plane have paid the same fare (and someday, no two people will ever pay the same fare for any flight).

If you can assure customers that they can have continuous connectivity in a flight, you may be able to charge a slightly higher price, possibly even a few percentage points, on every seat in a plane. As executives demand this service, perhaps they pay $2,500 instead of $2,000 or $1,500 for that round-trip ticket. At that price, and with that kind of variable pricing, the $35 (estimated) per flight for service is a tiny part of what the airline can yield.

They could almost certainly squeeze another $1,000,000 per year in higher fares -- at least until Boeing and its competitors unwire other airlines on competing routes.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:29 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Future | 2 Comments

Palm Debuts Wi-Fi-equipped Handheld

By Glenn Fleishman

Palm shows Tungsten C with built-in Wi-Fi: If you can't beat 'em, wait a really really long time and finally join 'em. Months and months after Toshiba shipped an integral Wi-Fi-enabled PocketPC, Palm has finally joined the revolution with the Tungsten C with extraordinary battery life (they say): one full day of use. I hope this isn't like the laser printer toner claim of 10,000 sheets (at 2 percent coverage per page).

The Tungsten C includes a color screen, 64 Mb of RAM, Microsoft-compatible productivity software, and Web and Internet tools. List price is $499.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:19 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware | 1 Comment

Boingo Launches New Software

By Glenn Fleishman

Boingo: faster, 802.1X support, auto profile creation: The new software removes some speed blocks making it practically instantaneous to sniff signals and assemble the information that Boingo uses to present to the user. Boingo also supports 802.1X directly and in pass-through models in anticipation of the near-term arrival of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:13 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Dave Hughes: High on Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Dave Hughes, 75 years young and full of fidelity: I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Hughes at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference yesterday. Dave is one of the leading lights in pushing community-based wireless initiatives (as opposed to community wirelss networks). He ranted in Wales, home of his ancestors, and the Welsh committed what he said was $100 million to an ongoing project to bring broadband to places that British Telecom said were impossible to provide affordably.

Dave got in the loop with the Sherpa community through Gordon Cook and harrangued a friend at Cisco to provide the Nepalese Mt. Everest base camp with some wireless bridges and routeres to allow a satellite link to be relayed to offer connectivity. But base camp is just how he gets his real agenda going: to help Sherpas in the US (and elsewhere) provide distance learning to their relatives and countrypeople in Nepal. And to offer access to a village that's essentially cut off by Maoist insurgents.

Although Dave noted repeatedly that he was 75, I would have pegged him at 52, and only because of his white hair. Decorated veteran of two wars who graduated at the bottom of his West Point Class, Dave is a shining example of how generosity, intense obsession, and the Internet's worldwide reach can transform pockets of humanity.

Dave's greatest moment -- at least recently -- was when he picked up his voice-over-IP (VOIP) Vonage phone and dialed Mt. Everest. Tsering Gyaltsen answered on the second ring.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:07 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unique

April 22, 2003

Wi-Fi Goes Hi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Om Malik talks about Wi-Fi's future as a consumer electronics standards: I've thought for some time that the most interesting Wi-Fi gear that will emerge this year will be ancillary products that rely on the presence of a Wi-Fi network but have nothing to do with computers or printing. Several audio players, like the cd3o c300 and the HomePod, support Wi-Fi networks, and I expect many more audio and video devices to appear unless the DMCA (in the US) restricts manufacturers' desire to promote fair use. More later on that subject. (I promise it's a coincidence that this week's sponsor is mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:38 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Future

Motorola's Cable Modem Plus Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Motorola releases $350 box: cable modem, Ethernet switch, printer sharing: This device is being sold directly via big-box computer retailers. It's unclear to me which consumers buy their own cable modems; it's more likely that cable operators will offer this as an option or upgrade.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware | 4 Comments

April 21, 2003

Centrino: Trojan Horse for Future Cell Data

By Glenn Fleishman

Intel's trying to become the life of the Wi-Fi party: My analysis of Intel's Centrino plans appears in today's Seattle Times. My thesis, in a nutshell, is that although putting 802.11b in a modern laptop isn't a stroke of genius, Intel's actual, stated goal (if you listen to them closely) is much clearer: to provide an end-to-end experience for purchasers of Centrino laptops (configuration, troubleshooting, connection) and to have a path for them to offer ever more advanced wireless technology in the same form factor to manufacturers who are already happy with the process.

You could see within a year or 18 months a Centrino offering, for instance, Wi-Fi (g or a/g) plus GPRS or a 3G flavor with Intel's branding on the service. You might be buying Intel Centrino Service by Cingular or T-Mobile Centrino for Intel or whatever the combination of brands is.

But it would be a single brand promise and an end-to-end promise, too.

Right now, there's a lot of finger pointing when you buy and try to configure a Wi-Fi adapter. Most of the time, it works. When it doesn't, who do you complain to or even get tech support from? When Linksys and Orinoco cards I purchased didn't work in a Sony laptop, I sent email to five different companies and received 15 to 20 suggestions. Fortunately, the last of these, which trickled in, had the solution (Wireless Zero Configuration was turned off).

In the same circumstance, if I had a Centrino laptop, I could call the laptop maker, and if I wasn't happy with their help, Intel has a staffed Centrino support line I could call. Both tech support operations are supporting the entire chain. I'm not going to get (I hope) a cock and bull story about it being Microsoft's fault, the driver's fault, the hardware's fault.

Let's take one alternative, too: Dell is offering Broadcom's g and a/g solutions under its own TrueMobile name. The g card is a zero-cost sidegrade from a Centrino system to an identical Pentium-M/855 system. If something goes wrong with this combination, I'm entirely reliant on Dell.

(Dell is selling a/g and g into the enterprise mostly. If you're planning to upgrade your WLAN to g later in the year, buying a Centrino now might be foolhardy -- and I'm guessing a lot of companies who have thoughts of g or a/g are holding off on laptop purchases until the second half when Intel plans to introduce these flavors.)

What Intel buys with Centrino is a combination of advertising and loyalty. They have to live up to their promise, though, in a more direct relationship with the end user than they've previously dared dream of.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:57 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media

Emerging Technology

By Glenn Fleishman

Emerging Technology Conference in Santa Clara this week: I'm off to the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in a few hours. Running Tuesday (tutorial day) to Friday, this event promises to open my eyes to lots of tech that I've heard vaguely about or not at all. The event is based on a Call For Proposal (CFP) approach in which random people submit proposals, and I (chair of the "untethered" track) and others chairs and O'Reilly folk ask folks to write up proposals on topics we think they should present on.

The result is an eclectic, sometimes focused set of subjects, many of which relate to several O'Reilly interests, like privacy, wireless, swarm, biological modeling, emergent behavior, nanotech, grass roots, etc.

I'll be reporting from the field; I'm part of a tutorial on Tuesday morning and then free to write up what I hear.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:48 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

April 18, 2003

BusinessWeek Blowout on Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

BusinessWeek devotes huge section to Wi-Fi: BusinessWeek devoted a whole host of articles to the subject of Wi-Fi, most circling around hot spots and cellular.

One of the most succinct and excellent comments on the relationship of 3G cellular to Wi-Fi was in an interview with Nicholas Negroponte: If you give me broadband...[2-5 Mbp+]...I cannot really use it without devoting my fullest attention (which means my hands and eyes, not just my ears)...many of the issues that face cell-phone operators aren't present (like hand-off). The problem is different. There really is room to cohabitate.

Exactly! Oddly, Andy Reinhardt's commentary in the same section ignores that critical difference. Wi-Fi can provide a virtual desktop experience: you can act not too far off from being in your office. 3G, even in its best possible incarnation in the next zero to two years, will be a slow data interchange format for making quick email retrievals and spooling, or for queuing data through slow pull (i.e., grab my email over the next 30 minutes as I drive to my destination).

Some other good remarks-- A T-Mobile exec on how Wi-Fi and cell differs: With cell phones we had to give people devices to use it. Here [with Wi-Fi], people already have the devices. We just give them new areas where they can log on.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:07 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: | 1 TrackBack

Marriott Launches April 26

By Glenn Fleishman

A little birdie leaked to me that Marriott is geared up for an April 26 hot spot launch: This is part of STSN's Intel Capital-funded rush to push out access now instead of gradually. The cost is $10 per day with discounts of up to 50 percent negotiated for large groups.

Marriott will have most properties unwired by April 26 in these areas: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles/Orange County, Miami, New York City/New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, and San Francisco Bay Area. The rest of their properties will follow by May 24.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:41 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

One Chip Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Via to offer one-chip Wi-Fi: It's not precisely the holy grail, but putting Wi-Fi's radio, baseband processor, and MAC on a single chip does reduce power consumption, signal loss, and physical space, not to mention manufacturing processes.

Gigabit Ethernet continues to pace Wi-Fi: both are benefitting from enormous competition, and have become nearly standard on many computer models. All of Apple's professional systems now have at least one gigabit Ethernet port, and all high-end models except the server line have 802.11g slots.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:35 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Chips

Cisco Wi-Fi Phone

By Glenn Fleishman

Cisco to ship Wi-Fi cordless phone in June: The Cisco phone requires some kind of PBX (phone exchange), but it's unclear from any of the articles I've read whether there's a gateway box you need to interface with specific PBX models.

Cisco might later release a version of the phone that does Wi-Fi in the enterprise and cell flavors when roaming.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:32 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise | 2 Comments | 1 TrackBack

EFF Links Unlicensed Spectrum with Free Speech

By Glenn Fleishman

Cory Doctorow of the EFF argues that more unlicensed spectrum would result in greater individual expression: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that the proliferation of cheap and interesting devices in the 2.4 GHz band due to the availability of unlicensed free uses has led to more and varied forms of expression. ...these devices are permitting more communication--more speech--from a greater variety of speakers, than the traditional command-and-control exclusive-use allocations have ever fostered.

You can download the full brief here via a link to the PDF version.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:30 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Politics

Disney Adds Biz-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Disney offers wireless in several of its Florida resort properties: Disney, via Smart City, is offering wireless service at the Grand Floridian, Contemporary Resort, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, and Coronado Springs properties. The cost is about $5 for an hour or $10 for a day. Service is available in common areas, and some concierge suites, but not guest rooms.

Because Disney refers to its employeees as "cast members" -- a fact I learned from Cory Doctorow's novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom -- there's a wonderful phrase in the release: Cast communication and training efforts are underway in each resort. The business desks will also be selling Wi-Fi cards

Disney will consider adding Wi-Fi at pools and other areas, and is working to decide on which of its next properties it adds.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:25 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 TrackBack

April 16, 2003

Intel's Specious Wi-Fi vs 802.16a Comparison

By Glenn Fleishman

Business Week interviews Intel Wi-Fi guy: The article has its ups and downs. For instance, it intros with the interviewer mentioning that Wi-Fi is a $1.67 billion business in 2003, but then says we have Intel to thank for it. Odd because the vast majority of that money this year (not next) will have little to do with Intel.

In the interview proper, Jim Johnson says Our Centrino products, enabling mobility, will speed up Wi-Fi adoption. And with millions of Centrino notebooks out, carriers will be motivated to resolve these issues... This is absolutely true: many changes have already been made due to Centrino verification by Intel.

But then Johnson talks about 802.16a: [it] will have a 31-mile linear service range -- a huge improvement over Wi-Fi's 300-foot radius. It will also offer much higher speeds, of up to 70 megabits per second, vs. 11 for Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has been run over 20 to 40 miles, depending on speed. And non-Wi-Fi FH and DS have run the same distances. So that's not a real parameter even though Wi-Fi isn't designed for those long distances and 802.16a can certainly improve on that.

The 70 Mbps versus 11 Mbps is an Intel-ism: because Intel doesn't offer 54 Mbps a or g flavors, Wi-Fi is 11 Mbps -- even though Wi-Fi, the trademark, includes 54 Mbps 802.11a as one of its two current certified standards. Intel is a Wi-Fi Alliance board member.

(Interestingly, Johnson's predecessor is now in charge of Intel Capital's wireless investments.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:13 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media | 3 Comments

From Shadows of War, a New Broadband

By Glenn Fleishman

USA Today speculates that Iraq's rebuilt infrastructure could use Wi-Fi instead of copper: It's an odd article with the current events unfolding in Iraq, but it makes some sense. It might take billions and years to install copper (or fiber) infrastructure, where Wi-Fi could be operating in days or weeks to offer critical business, education, and governmental connectivity. (And not just Wi-Fi: other low-powered data protocols like 802.16a.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:01 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Future

Intel Jumpstarts STSN

By Glenn Fleishman

Money makes the hot spots zing as STSN unwires 370 hotels with Intel's cold hard cash: STSN had originally planned a more leisurely schedule, but Intel Capital's investment jumpstarted the initiative. STSN says 420 hotels by June 2003.

Unfortunately for me, Mr. Selfish, the Santa Clara Marriott has unwired service (as does a Holiday Inn in the vicinity), but the nearby Westin has Concentric's wired service -- I'll be staying there during next week's fantastic, exceptional, still-room-available Emerging Technology 2003 conference.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:32 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Sony Stores with Free Wi-Fi in Canada

By Glenn Fleishman

Taking its cue from Apple, Sony stores will offer free Wi-Fi: Apple's done it for years, and Sony must have seen the smarts in getting early adopters in to ogle gear while surfing the Web. [via TechDirt]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:55 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 TrackBack

Martians Land a Bigger Craft

By Glenn Fleishman

Martian Technologies add 120 Gb, kit version of Wi-Fi hard drive: The folks at Martian have landed two models. As with their 40 Gb unit ($399), the 120 Gb model ($479) and the kit ($379) offers network-attached storage through Wi-Fi and/or a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. The kit version lets you add your own hard drive and includes a CD with the network operating system software needed.

The drive also includes a USB port for "future expansion"; their first upgrade for this port added USB printer sharing.

What I'd like to see in a future Martian unit is the addition of FTP (secure and non-secure) and WebDAV (ditto); they already have SMB and are working on AppleShare. Another nice idea would be something the Linksys EFG80 offers: per-user and per-group quotas. It's especially useful for an office, even though file-server space isn't as limited as it used to be.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:55 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hardware | 1 Comment

Sputnik Limited Release

By Glenn Fleishman

Sputnik offers early, savvy adopters a chance to work with their new access point and Central Control: Sputnik's goal is provide high-quality wireless LAN systems that use their Central Control software to manage any number of access points that run their free firmware. Their revenue comes from per-AP license fees to using the Central Control, which can provide authentication, centralized configuration, access control list management, and other features.

The goal at Sputnik is suck the cost of WLAN deployment out of expensive APs: their firmware is designed to run on commodity equipment, including their own cheap AP 120 (currently $185 as part of their testing program). Actiontec, a Taiwanese maker of very very inexpensive Wi-Fi equipment, has Sputnik's firmware embedded.

Ultimately, you might be able to buy $100 APs and link together oodles of them to form a robust WLAN without spending $500 per point. Of course, there are always issues about how much management and how much Layer 2 activity you can control or offer with commodity gear that's not designed for the enterprise. But for probably 100,000 to a million middle-tier small to large businesses, this solution is more than good enough.

(Meanwhile, seven companies will be announcing switched WLAN products that will incorporate centralized management, Layer 2 options, roaming VLANs, and all kinds of AAA at Network+Interop next week -- the market's about to become crowded and baroque.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:06 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise | 1 Comment

April 15, 2003

Apple Ships 150,000 802.11g Units

By Glenn Fleishman

Apple reports shipping 150,000 AirPort Extreme draft 802.11g units: The company says about 50 percent of what they shipped was Extreme, but given that they have discontinued the old AirPort Base Station, that means that the 150,000 non-Extreme devices were probably all 802.11b AirPort Cards.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:13 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 802.11g | 2 Comments

Your Message Here

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:18 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

Time Mag on Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Time Online focuses on Wi-Fi's hot spot potential: The article tells the story of Larry Brilliant in greater depth, and notes a very useful number: IBM made $1 billion in Wi-Fi services, which is primarily installing WLANs in enterprises and then maintaining those networks. Eighteen months ago, that number was about $150M -- given out in a talk by the head of IBM Global Services at the first 802.11 Planet conference.

The author describes 802.16a incorrectly near the end of the article, positioning it as competitive with 802.11 flavors for omnidirectional access. 802.16 is backhaul: bandwidth across the final mile or final 30 miles. Many folks think 802.16 will be the connection between hot spots and the Internet, reducing the cost of deployment for T-1 scale infrastructure.

In the article, the writer says 802.16a covers 1 square mile -- actually it's one linear mile and potentially much more. (To quote from the WiMax forum site: a wireless metropolitan area network technology that will connect 802.11 hot spots to the Internet and provide a wireless extension to cable and DSL for last mile broadband access. It provides up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users to get broadband connectivity without needing a direct line of sight to the base station.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:16 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media | 2 TrackBacks

April 14, 2003

Seven Switches for Seven Networks

By Glenn Fleishman

Analysts say seven WLAN switches en route: At Network+Interop, expect a flurry of announcements of switched wireless LAN products that will allow enterprises to better aggregate and manage large-scale network traffic.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:19 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise | 1 Comment

Airport Wi-Fi a Chaotic Mess

By Glenn Fleishman

?It?s a chaotic mess,? says wireless consultant Alan Reiter in Newsweek: Alan's quoted in a short Newsweek article explaining why airport access has been so fragmented and lagged other deployments of hot spots. The report notes that adding service requires bringing in contractors who then need security clearance.

Many sites have opted for PoE (power over Ethernet), available under various brand names, to avoid having to use an electrician: they can focus just on network wiring. (Of course, in Washington State, as of a couple of years ago, you need an electrical contractor's license to install low-voltage wiring, which would include PoE or plain Ethernet.)

The previously reported story on Engim (see below) dovetails with this, as does Vivato's unique antenna. With Vivato, you need fewer antennas to serve the same place. With Engim, because each access point has at least three channels, you need fewer APs, and you could even dedicate one of those channels to WDS (wireless distribution system) or other AP-to-AP bridging modes, reducing the necessity for network wiring.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:45 PM | Permanent Link | Categories:

Sans Fils in Gare du Nord

By Glenn Fleishman

Test deployment in Paris's Gare du Nord train station of Wi-Fi service: For 20 minutes at 5 euros to an hour for 10 euros, you can use Wi-Fi in one of Europe's busiest train stations, the Gare du Nord.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:39 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: | 2 Comments

Many Channels, One Box

By Glenn Fleishman

Engim offers chipsets to provide three or more simultaneous nonoverlapping channels in a single access point: Engim's product could radically transform enterprise wireless LAN deployment by allowing a single access point (AP) to handle from three to nine channels, incorporating both or either 802.11b and 802.11a, and eventually 802.11g.

The idea behind the Engim approach is to think about the access point separate from the client adapter. The Engim chips don't require any changes whatsoever in the client adapter. But they radically rethink how an access point should handle its task: holistically, instead of channel-at-a-time.

Engim's VP of marketing, Scott Lindsay, explained to me last week how their research showed that the three so-called nonoverlapping channels (1, 6, and 11) in 802.11b can actually impede performance. They're not exactly nonoverlapping: they're just mostly nonoverlapping. The direct sequence spread-sprectrum (DSSS) concentrates most signal strength across the mid-point of the channel, but spreads out in both directions up and down the spectrum, and can bleed. Engim did tests with three APs duct-taped together set to the non-overlapping channels, and discovered plenty of signal degradation and throughput reductions.

Engim's chipsets, available in a variety of configurations, offer a unique advantage in performing a full-band analysis on an ongoing basis instead of looking just at the channel to which an AP is set. Lindsay suggested, for instance, that in certain applications, an Engim-powered AP could have one channel set to only handle low-speed clients, unable to connect because of distance or equipment faster than a slower 802.11 speed. Another channel could be dedicated to full 802.11b speed. Another could have a discrete purpose like voice over IP. None of this requires coordination on the client side: the AP can use a variety of factors to associate an adapter with a particular channel.

The Engim "wideband approach," as they term it, offers a number of advantages, not just in more cleverly dovetailing and customizing signal characteristics. It can also provide monitoring of interference, and even detect rogue APs. The information gathered by the analysis unit can be collected from individual APs and centralized, providing a three-dimensional picture of spectrum use across a facility. (For those in the know, their analyzer digitizes at 200 megasamples per second with a deep bit depth.)

The chipset comprises three parts: a front-end radio wideband chip, available in 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz flavors (APs can have both in the same unit); an analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion chip; and a triple-speed MAC that can handle three channels at a time while also performing signal analysis across the entire spectrum band. The MAC includes full AES encryption in hardware, and is ready for a, b, g, e, and i, and probably f and k. (No kidding on those letters.)

The 3-chip version handles three channels of either 802.11a or b, and a 5-chip version can handle any three a or b channels. Both of these configurations fit on a mini-PCI card to meet the industry's form factor requirements. A six-chip version can do three b channels and any three out of eight a channels. Finally, a nine-chip version can do 3 b and 6 a channels.

No strange antenna configurations are required: simple dipole antennas, one dedicate to receive and the other transmit, are all that's needed. I asked about Vivato's antenna model, and Lindsay said that the Engim technology was entirely complementary: there's no reason that Vivato couldn't adopt Engim's chips to link two disruptive technologies in one form factor.

One of the interesting characteristics of Engim's product is that although their chips will cost somewhat more than plain 802.11a/b/g chipsets for access points, the cost is only marginally higher given the value chain for an access point in the enterprise. A company that would spend $500 for a Cisco access point that can handle a single channel of a or b might be perfectly happy to spend $750 to $1,000 for a three-channel b Cisco device: many IT costs are per unit deployment, whether for installation, depreciation, or management. Not to mention each Ethernet drop's cost. Just imagine building out a topographic map for nonoverlapping channels in dense usage areas!

Engim couldn't reveal any partners at the moment, but is talking to a number of companies about integrating their chipsets right away. For the enterprise, having multiple channels in a single box with smart signal analysis could accelerate deployment of WLAN: it removes many of the bandwidth bottlenecks and management costs.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:04 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Chips | 1 Comment


By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile's latest coup: Kinko's: Just the other day, someone was mentioning to me that they thought Kinko's was an easy win because most (all?) of the Kinko's in the US are wired with high-speed service due to their online fulfillment system. Speak of the devil, Kinko's signed a deal to put T-Mobile HotSpot service in 1,000 outlets starting fourth quarter. That plus Starbucks plus Borders will push T-Mobile close to 4,000 locations.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Boston Globe Wireless Stories

By Glenn Fleishman

Solid coverage for a mainstream audience in the Boston Globe: There's nothing new here, but it's a great attempt to boil down several different aspects of Wi-Fi and hot spot and general wireless technology into something understandable to a business and general audience.

The piece on telecoms again lumps Boingo in with hot spot infrastructure builders. And it mentions 2.7G and 2.8G, terms I've never heard of. I know that 2.5G is a sloppy term: it's a loose name for somewhere between the modem-speeds of 2G and the pure data network of 3G. The article also says that Borders will only unwire an additional 50 stores this year, while the press releases I've seen said that all Borders stores nationwide, over 400, will be unwired.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:21 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media

Know Your Market

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:15 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

Live from Mount Everest

By Glenn Fleishman

A shout out from the highest place on earth's base: Dave Hughes forwarded out email from the sherpas working on the wireless satellite link at the base of Mt. Everest on the Nepalese side.

Dave wrote, among other facts, Six parties, who shell out an average of $65,000 a person have agreed to use the Tsering's 4 laptop 'Cyber Cafe' on Everest for their communications with the rest of the world, paying $2,500 per party for the 3 month season, or $45 an hour for those who show up with their own laptop, and $1 a minute for Trekkers who trudge up Kalipataar where the VSAT is (and one can take incredible pictures of Everest and the surrounding region), The proceeds, besides paying visionary Sherpa Tesering go to the Sargamatha Pollution Control Committee, the NGO which manages the Park and tries to keep its debris cleaned up.

Here's the email from Mt. Everest:


Before I proceed with the message from the base of Everest,on behalf of all virtual yeties I would apologize for being silent for the last few days.

Finally, today,14th April 2003 with the contineous effort of the virtual yeti team comprising of DINESH SHILPAKAR, SANJAY SHRESTHA, BISO BAJRACHARYA, TSEWANG DORJEE, PAVAN SHAKYA and myself combined with constant support and advises from great veteran like DAVE HUGHES and GORDON COOK and DILEEP AGRAWAL, we have been able to link EVEREST BASECAMP at an altitude of 5300m at 1300 HRS Nepal standard time to our server based at the base of KALAPATHAR at an altitude of 5450m) wirelessly by using CISCO AIRONET 350 and then to AAP-1 satellite provided by SES Americom and this is the first email.

Finally I would like to thank all the people who have been helping us to
get this project a success.

Tsering Gyaltsen sherpa
from Everest Basecamp
April 14th, 2003, 1430HRS NST

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:13 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unique | 2 Comments

April 12, 2003

802.11n: High Throughput

By Glenn Fleishman

Unstrung reports on previously unknown letters of the alphabet: 802.11m (maintenance update) and 802.11n (high throughput) are ones I haven't heard of; "n" isn't yet an official letter. The idea behind high throughput is to increase the percentage of network traffic that carries data instead of overhead like timing and error correction; they also want to radically increase the symbol rate. [via Marcos Lara]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:20 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Standards | 1 Comment

April 11, 2003

Third-Generation Bluetooth

By Glenn Fleishman

Intel demoes 220 Mbps ultrawideband (UWB): Intel shows off 220 Mbps UWB at a developer show. The kicker to the article is the last sentence: "It's a candidate for what might be thought of as a third-generation Bluetooth," [Kevin Kahn, head of Intel's communications and interconnect technology laboratory] said.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:49 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Future

April 10, 2003

Boingo Affects Hotel Stay for One Man

By Glenn Fleishman

New York Times featured traveler makes plans based on Boingo availability: Strong words, indeed: The service has become so essential, he said, that it dictates which cities he visits and which hotels he chooses.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 4:34 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Borders Goes Live

By Glenn Fleishman

Borders launches its T-Mobile service in several states, 145 stores: Borders had announced last November that it had partnered with T-Mobile to put hot spot service in all Borders stores in the US. Today, they announced all stores in California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington have gone live, or 145 stores total.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:34 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Readers Know Quality

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:24 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

April 9, 2003

Boingo and Intel Co-Promote

By Glenn Fleishman

Boingo becomes part of Centrino verification program: Boingo is the latest hot spot related firm to enter into the program that Intel is running to verify that a Centrino-equipped laptop can connect without fuss to a hot spot. Boingo's unique, as far as I know, in being a software developer that's having their software evaluated to determine whether it works correctly. I've heard from several operators and others that the Centrino verification has been useful: it's helped them troubleshoot flaws or missing pieces in their own networks, thus serving most users better--not just those using Centrino.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:29 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Academic Wi-Fi Conference

By Glenn Fleishman

Conference looks at wireless and academia: If you had any question about how much money is being spent at college campuses and elsewhere to install wireless networks (cell and 802.11), just look at the list of sponors on the conference's home page. They're streaming video from the event, which runs through Friday. The topic list is fascinating, as it deals with the social, technical, and security implications of overlaying ubiquitous networks on a campus. [via TechDirt]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:37 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Academia | 1 Comment | 1 TrackBack

Pyramid Asks, What Happens When Pricing Drops?

By Glenn Fleishman

John Yunker of Pyramid Research notes that even optimistic projections of venue revenue today for hot spots relies on pricing staying constant over time: The latest free Wi-Fi newsletter from Pyramid covers some of the latest news, but leads off with Yunker's analysis of dropping prices from the venue's standpoint. He says, Current revenue share models value the network far greater than the location. I say, the hot spot business is about real estate and software, not about the technology.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Dropping MAN Pricing

By Glenn Fleishman

Customer equipment for wireless broadband could drop to $30 in a few years with 802.16: Good insight on the WiMAX announcement by Intel, Nokia, Proxim, Alvarion, and others to form an interoperable standard around 802.16a. The interoperability reduces the cost of developing and proving proprietary extensions. Uses of 802.16a will include T-1 replacement and backhaul service to hot spots.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:31 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Metro-Scale Networks

Free Seattle Hot Spots

By Glenn Fleishman

Free networks, free hot spots, and a neighborly feeling: I assaulted this reporter's accuracy in an article he wrote about Wi-Fi last week, but today's story on free wireless in Seattle rings nicely true. (And a good mention of many usual suspects, including Jim Sullivan and Matt Westervelt.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:28 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Your Message Could Be Read

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:27 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

April 8, 2003

950,000 Hotel Rooms

By Glenn Fleishman

LodgeNet to offer broadband: It doesn't say wireless, but it is broadband. LodgeNet offers hotels in-room "interactive services," which I believe includes movies on demand and gaming. They're in 5,700 properties representing 950,000 rooms. In the hotels I've stayed at, there's a box in each room, which means adding an Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi hub would be trivial (if overkill on the Wi-Fi side). [via Nigel Ballard]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:29 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 2 Comments


By Glenn Fleishman

Intel, Proxim, Alvarion, Nokia, and others back 802.16a, wireless metropolitan area networking: The WiMAX Forum comprises many companies that want to deploy a uniform rendition of 802.16a, a way to use frequencies across a large range, licensed and unlicensed, for large-scale broadband wireless.

By providing testing and interoperability standards, the WiMAX Forum would allow backhaul and point-to-point networking systems to work interchangeably. Many of today's devices -- well, most -- use proprietary standards. It's remarkable that so many companies feel that opening up to a standards process will increase deployment while increasing competition.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:25 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Metro-Scale Networks | 1 Comment

Broadcom Ships a/g Mini-PCI Adapter

By Glenn Fleishman

Dell already offers a/g option from Broadcom: Broadcom keeps pushing at the enterprise, and today announced they are shipping their mini-PCI 802.11a and 802.11g adapter, which, by g's nature, includes full 802.11b support. (Broadcom's chipset has been certified as full Wi-Fi for 802.11b as of a few weeks ago.)

Dell is the first of what Broadcom hopes are several manufacturers that will offer their adapter as an option, especially attractive to the enterprise. Intel won't have an a/b or a/g option until the second half of this year, by which time laptop manfacturers may be entrenched in their current option.

Broadcom pointed out to me that Dell revises its business laptops only rarely; the last time the Latitude line was revised was in 1997. Dell likes to offer a predictable product that a company can commit to as a stable, identical platform for an extended period of time in large numbers of units.

Broadcom noted that it provides a single driver to support b, g, and a/g, meaning that a single disk image for installing the operating system on a laptop can be used for whatever Broadcom adapter is included.

All of this points to Intel having a more uphill battle for wireless supremacy than predicted last year, although all the laptop makers offering Broadcom adapters also offer Intel's as a default, no-cost option. It's just that Intel's adapter isn't necessarily what the enterprise wants today.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:09 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Adapters | 1 Comment

This Banner Wasn't Paid For

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:04 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

April 7, 2003

Time Magazine Tells Old, Boring Story

By Glenn Fleishman

Wake me when the story is over: Time tells old, boring story slightly inaccurately: Time Magazine paints a very dull picture of an exciting field by printing a story that, minus a few statistics, could have appeared over a year ago. After opening with a twist on the usual coffeeshop story, the Time story reads pretty close to the picture I painted in February 2001 in the New York Times. Ah, well, this is an article for folks who don't know anything about Wi-Fi.

Instead of even mentioning Intel's Centrino marketing campaign and system which could drive Wi-Fi use through simple awareness and branding. This is a European story from Time's overseas division, but it only mentions a single prices -- about 8 euros an hour -- for a single hot spot operator without mentioning, say, Telia's pricing in Sweden or any operator in the US.

It gets T-Mobile's acquisition of MobileStar's assets wrong; T-Mobile didn't buy the company or assume the debt. The writer also misstates Boingo's purpose by identifying it as a company that helps sniff and connect to networks.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:44 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Mainstream Media | 1 Comment

Funk's WPA Supporting Client

By Glenn Fleishman

Funk announces Windows client that includes WPA support: Funk will update its Odyssey software to support 802.1x transactions using WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) across the Windows platform. Microsoft has already committed to WPA through an update they released last week. Nonetheless, Microsoft's software supports only protocols Microsoft is interested in for secure authentication; Funk's broader support allows enterprises to incorporate legacy systems or to use non-Microsoft/Cisco backend authentication more simply. Funk also supports WPA across Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP, where Microsoft's initial WPA support is just for XP.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:37 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Security

That Won't Fly

By Glenn Fleishman

Heathrow Wi-Fi: $130 per month?: Heathrow Airport in London now has Wi-Fi service in Terminal One at an oddly high rate: £6 per hour or £85 per month which is about US$10 and US$130. It further hammers home why vendor-neutral host solutions are best in which many competitors get access for a fixed rate to an airport's infrastructure.

I can't see this rate standing because the uptick will be close to nil beyond casual use. This is seatback airphone pricing.

Update: Alan Reiter, Julian Bond, and others have written to let me know that this pricing is British Telecom's standard hot spot rate, so ostensibly £85 covers unlimited service at all BT hot spots, not just Heathrow. Still seems expensive to me, but until there are alternatives and more competition, unlikely to change.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 6 Comments

Reach WiFiNetNews Readers

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

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Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:27 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

April 6, 2003

Sony Ericsson T68i Deal: They Pay You

By Glenn Fleishman

Gizmodo reports selling T-Mobile-activated Sony Ericsson T68i phone for negative $30: This is a departure from our usual front, but I'm an extremely happy T68i user, and wanted to highlight this offer at The T68i is a Bluetooth-enabled phone that can work with GSM and GPRS networks (2G and 2.5G). I use a Bluetooth adapter with a laptop running Mac OS X 10.2 with a Bluetooth adapter. The deal gives you the phone for $270 with a $300 rebate after you enable service with T-Mobile.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:20 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Cellular | 1 Comment

April 4, 2003

Verizon Small Business Wiring

By Glenn Fleishman

Verizon expand small business WLAN installation: Verizon expands nationwide into installing wireless LANs in small businesses from its Boston trial. In Boston, at least initially, they used subcontractors, so this is more like a general contracting business than something they have to build out headcount for -- unless their model's changed.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:57 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise

Fries, Wi-Fi, No Pepsi, Coke

By Glenn Fleishman

If you sell them a Value Meal, they might come: A skeptical article in the San Jose Mercury News on whether the McDonald's Wi-Fi experiment in New York is a sign of things to come or a demonstration of the inefficiency of charging for hot spot service.

As regular readers know, I believe that captive venues like conference centers, airports, and hotels, have a high potential to get regular subscribers through networks aggregated for roaming. Non-captive venues, like public parks, cafes, or areas with retail density will certainly always have some amount of free service. But if you capture travelers with the promise of reliable service and they get the benefit of lower costs for Internet access in the captive locations, those same travelers will wind up using commercial service elsewhere if it's included in their monthly subscription fee.

That's to say that if you're already paying $30 to $50 per month for unlimited Wi-Fi because you spend a lot of time in Austin, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle, and hotel nights in Embassy, Wyndham, etc., you'll seek out the cafes that are part of the same roaming system because you'll be used to a guaranteed level of performance and customer service.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:33 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 Comment

Estonia: Land of Cheap Wi-Fi/GPRS

By Glenn Fleishman

Estonia offers unlimited Wi-Fi/GPRS for as little as US$20: Veljo Haamer of in Estonia (one of the Baltic republics for the geographically challenged) writes in reaction to the Czech Republic service offering unlimited GPRS service for US$34 per month that three Estonian wISPs have flat rate monthly GPRS and Wi-Fi service. The least expensive plans are US$20 per month from RadioLinja and Vodafone.

Veljo also points us to a coverage map in English of Wi-Fi service, of which 50 percent are still free. This is another clear sign of how in a country (or area) with less copper infrastructure how Wi-Fi or unlicensed wireless can transform connectivity, and hopefully enlarge the economy.

My family is mostly from Lithuania and areas of Russia and Poland near there, so Estonia has a warm spot in my heart.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:46 AM | Permanent Link | Categories:

Lower Manhattan's Free Unwiring

By Glenn Fleishman

A business improvement district in Lower Manhattan will install free hot spot and hot zone service: The service will encompass a number of areas to begin with -- City Hall Park; the South Street Seaport area; Bowling Green; Vietnam Veterans Plaza on Water Street north of Broad Street; in Liberty Plaza, at Broadway and Liberty Street; and in Rector Park in Battery Park City.

Interestingly, the article also contains the first mention I've seen of Emenity, a for-profit group headed by one of NYCwireless's founders, Anthony Townsend. Emenity is working hand-in-hand with NYCwireless, a group that itself lacks charitable status but works with the Earth Pledge Foundation to receive donations.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:33 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 1 TrackBack

Reiter Bites the Hand that Wires Convention Centers

By Glenn Fleishman

Alan Reiter's typically deep analysis of a flawed approach by a former client to add connectivity at conference and exhibition centers: Smart City Networks debuts a clueless model of pricing that they will hear screams and howls of derision about, starting with their former consultant Alan Reiter.

The company is pricing for a captive market at a rate that's probably very reasonable compared to what wired rates in convention centers cost: I've heard ridiculous stories of how many thousands of dollars per booth people pay for a few hundred Kbps of access.

Alan cites rates that are different from the service agreement listed at the site he links to: Alan shows $5 per hour, $25 per day, and $650 for seven days. The site shows $10 per hour and $50 per day. All of these are clock/calendar times: it's an hour or a day from when you sign up, not an hour or day of usage overall. There are certainly daypricing models like that but very few hour-pricing ones. (Update: Alan just confirmed with Smart City that the rates are $5 and $25; the ones on their site are incorrect.)

The cost is, of course, ridiculous, and people will rebel. I'd rather use a dial-up phone or spend $10 per day (or get a monthly account at $30 to $50) than pay $50 per day to have low-speed access all the time. This is the cell operators mistake, confusing ubiquity with utility.

It has to be calculated as speed over cost times availability as a percentage: the faster the speed the less the absolute price matters and the multiplier is availability percentage or ubiquity percentage. Thus having 64 Kbps at a very low cost 95 percent of the time could be seen as good as 1 Mbps for a somewhat higher cost 5 percent of the time. But 64 Kbps at a very high cost just in a convention center will drive rejection, not adoption.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:24 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: | 1 Comment | 1 TrackBack

Everybody in the World is Reading

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

The above could be a paid, sponsored link. Email for more information.

Subscribe to essays from this site via email. Email to subscribe, or sign up via your Yahoo account.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:11 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

More on Hot Spot Uptake

By Glenn Fleishman

Hot spots aren't seeing the numbers yet they need to survive: T-Mobile once again says they're not promoting their service, which is specious (see my earlier comments).

The crux of the article is this: Wi-Fi use "is certainly not growing at the same pace as its footprint," said In-Stat/MDR analyst Amy Cravens. "We are seeing an increase in locations, but not a significant increase in usage of those locations."

This is what's motivating Intel's Centrino campaign: even though it's non-unique to stick a Wi-Fi card into a laptop, Intel would like to make the idea of wireless access with a laptop so compelling that people dump their 1997 to 2001 laptops and upgrade to a 2003 laptop.

Especially businesses. I keep finding out more and more about how business purchase cycles are several years long, and thus there are plenty of laptops running Windows 98 and NT which could add Wi-Fi but not with the kind of ease and reliability of using it under Windows XP with the latest, greatest battery-shepherding technology.

Businesses don't want to insert PC cards in thousands of laptops; Centrino avoids that even if it's nothing particularly special.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:10 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Wi-Fi Investment Market May Be Overheated

By Glenn Fleishman

Wi-Fi market sparks many investments, but too many?: This analysis suggests that the sheer number of firms might be chasing too few opportunities, although the opportunities are running ahead of the market's ability to capitalize fully on them. That would argue for a kind of heat sink equilibrium: as long as the market keeps growing furiously, the chance for experimentation to solve problems can persist.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:04 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Financial

April 3, 2003

Truck Stop Accord

By Glenn Fleishman

Major truck stops agree on Wi-Fi: Two truck stop chains, Flying J and Petro Stopping Centers will both install Wi-Fi at their locations. In fact, Flying J says it has Wi-Fi at 80 of its 160 venues already.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:36 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

EAP Isn't Just for Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Correction: EAP isn't just for Wi-Fi or even part of security: As part of my long-running series that runs corrections on articles that I haven't written, makes a few mistakes explaining what EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) really is.

EAP is a generalized way to exchange messages among different parties based in part on how several existing specific methods work, like elements of PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol).

In 802.1x/EAP, the method of authenticating users on a network supported in the WPA and 802.11i security updates, EAP is used as the method to exchange information among the client (supplicant), access point or gateway (authenticator), and network user system (authentication server). 802.1x defines these three roles; EAP is the method by which they message to each other. writes, EAP is [sic] provides much stronger security protection than WPA, via better encryption and one-time passwords, for example. In fact, EAP provides a mechanism alongside the non-wireless-specific 802.1x (note that it's ONE x, not ELEVEN x) to have encryption and better key exchange. WPA and 802.11i include EAP messaging, as well as new encryption methods such as TKIP and AES.

One-time passwords is probably not the right phrase, either. Rather, the 802.1x/EAP model allows an authentication system to provide new keys (not one-time keys) every X packets or on whatever basis the network administrator chooses to set policy.

Finally, a weird side note: Matthew Gast, author of 802.11 Networks: The Definitive Guide, just explained to me that the capitalization in IEEE specifications means something. The 802.1x protocol is actually 802.1X: protocols that stand alone use capital task group letter. Protocols like 802.11b, which are modifications to other protocols, use lower-case letters. Leave it to engineers to put meaning into capitalization.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:27 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Enterprise

High-order Cluelessness

By Glenn Fleishman

Lawyers' draft on changing Wi-Fi provokes response: Princeton Prof Ed Felten calls ABA draft report on Wi-Fi and digital rights management "high-order cluelessness."

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:55 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Cluelessness

Cranky Cell Phone Inventor Derides Hot Spots

By Glenn Fleishman

Martin Cooper, father of the cell phone, says 802.11 impractical for coverage: Sure, he's got a point, but the fellow is obviously opinionated and relying on a specific internal model of Wi-Fi hot spots that are monolithic.

One company "says they will have an 802.11b site within a five-minute walk in the city and a five-minute drive in the suburbs," Cooper said, bristling a bit. "Know what that sounds like to me? A telephone booth."

I can't make 11 Mbps connections to a DSL or T-1 line at a telephone booth, however.

I hear more and more about people driving up to closed (or open) shops and employing drive-by Wi-Fi: powering up the laptop, performing their tasks, and moving on. They'll have to enlarge parking lots next, not seating, at many cafes.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:52 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: | 3 Comments

Czech Carrier Offers Unlimited GPRS

By Glenn Fleishman

Alan Reiter discusses the Czech cell operator's offer of unlimited GPRS for US$34 per month: Geoff Goodfellow, an ex-pat bar owner in Prague (he also founded RadioMail and helped start JFax), sent out a note this morning about Eurotel's offer of unlimited GPRS service for a flat monthly fee.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:49 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5G and 3G

Your Sponsorship Here

By Glenn Fleishman

Thousands of Readers See This Banner Every Day and Ask Wi-Fi?

The above could be a paid, sponsored link. Email for more information.

Subscribe to essays from this site via email. Email to subscribe, or sign up via your Yahoo account.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:30 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

Starbucks Says 25K Connections Per Week

By Glenn Fleishman

Starbucks sells more coffee than service: Starbucks apparently told this writer, although the attribution is general, that 25,000 people connect each week in its stores. This number isn't broken out by monthly subscriber versus hourly or pay-as-you-go patron. With over 2,200 stores unwired by T-Mobile, this averages to 10 connections a week or a little over one per day per store.

In the best scenario, that income might average to $150 per store per month (say two monthly subscribers at $30 each and 15 hours at $6.00 each). The cost per store certainly exceeds $500 and might be as much as $2,000 per month.

However, one could expect that certain stores are turning a profit: in dense areas, it's much more likely that a store is racking up hundreds of connections a month, not just a dozen or two.

It's also disingenuous for T-Mobile to say that they aren't marketing the service: they send out direct mail, they promote it on their Web site, they tell their cell subscribers about it, and they're involved in co-marketing with Starbucks and HP (which has a so-called connection tool that works with a couple of HP-provided Wi-Fi cards, but they want on the bandwagon) as well as with Intel's Centrino campaign.

Here's the kicker in the story for Starbucks, not T-Mobile, which makes their saliva start to flow: And Wi-Fi service has turned him into a loyal Starbucks customer. "Having the T-Mobile has completely locked me down here, as opposed to the Cosi across the street," he said.

That's nice for Starbucks, but unless T-Mobile is given an incremental per store percentage of aggregate increased sales based on the number of Wi-Fi users at any given time, this doesn't pay the T-1 bill.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:28 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot | 7 Comments

April 2, 2003

Fill 'Er Up with Power

By Glenn Fleishman

Power Station offers charging, hot spot, secure storage, and rentable chargers: Power Station's press release says the company is building 211 kiosks intended for airport and similar deployment. The kiosks offer Wi-Fi service (802.11g, even), but they also offer power in three ways. First, you can plug in at the kiosk to charge while using the hot spot service. Second, you can store your laptop and/or cell phone in a secure locker. Third, they rent external batteries that can recharge your laptop while you're using it.

The company offers something they call a WebPad, which sounds like a portable Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi bridge so that customers without a Wi-Fi card can still access the hot spot. This obviates one barrier to getting people to try hot spot service.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 4:16 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

SARS to Affect Wi-Fi Shipments?

By Glenn Fleishman

Disease of the network: Some speculation about whether a widescale shutdown of Asia due to the SARS virus would affect Wi-Fi shipments. Much Wi-Fi equipment is manfactured and/or assembled in a few key areas of China, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:06 PM | Permanent Link | Categories:

Boingo Version 1.3

By Glenn Fleishman

Boingo Wireless software update: Boingo has released version 1.3 of their connectivity software, which they promise will radically increase speed, and offer a control to prioritize networks.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:37 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot

Fortune Says 802.11g Half-Baked

By Glenn Fleishman

Fortune's Pete Lewis says that 802.11g is definitely not ready yet: Pete makes a good case from his experience that current gear needs a little more time in the oven. I've been working with AirPort Extreme and Linksys's 54G equipment, and am not quite as disappointed as him, but I'm expecting less.

Pete does make a statement that I have to object to: 802.11b was ratified several years ago, and yet it's not uncommon for 11b wireless networking products from one company to be incompatible with 11b products from another. There's no reason to believe that 802.11g will be any different.

Later in his blog entry he notes that 802.11b and Wi-Fi aren't interchangeable terms, of course: Wi-Fi means certified interoperable. I don't know of any Wi-Fi equipment that doesn't work with other Wi-Fi equipment, and I'm not sure if he has specific products in mind when he makes that statement.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:37 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 802.11g | 2 Comments

April 1, 2003

Belkin and Hedges

By Glenn Fleishman

Belkin hedges on 802.11g compatibility guarantee: SmallNetBuilder reports a change in the official tune on whether Belkin guarantees that its equipment that's shipping now will work with final 802.11g support.

Despite this change in language, I am confident that the millions of shipped units of Broadcom and other gear that uses draft 802.11g firmware will be upgradeable. Can you imagine the lawsuits? There's a reasonable consumer expectation regardless of weasel words.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:23 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 802.11g | 1 Comment

Buy the Electronic Edition of the Wireless Networking Starter Kit

By Glenn Fleishman

My co-author Adam Engst and I have launched the sale of the electronic edition of The Wireless Networking Starter Kit, our book for Windows and Macintosh users that helps people set up networks from start to finish in homes and small offices, with extensive chapters on using wireless on the road at hot spots and elsewhere, final-mile point-to-point connections, and troubleshooting.

The electronic edition is in Acrobat PDF form and costs $22: exactly the same as the discounted print edition. You can, of course, buy the print book at that price, 30 percent off retail, from, or with free US shipping directly from our publisher.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:21 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Self-Promotion

WSJ Report for Free

By Glenn Fleishman

Yesterday's detailed Wall Street Journal article on Wi-Fi is available for free: Yahoo News has the report through syndicaiton in two chunks: part 1, part 2.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:10 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: News

Pringles Shingles

By Glenn Fleishman

Is this letter to the editor a subtle April Fool's joke?: I can't tell whether this long, stumbling, odd letter is an April Fool's joke or a friend-of-a-friend story.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:08 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Cluelessness

Windows XP WPA Patch

By Glenn Fleishman

Microsoft KnowledgeBase article on WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) patch: Unlike some of the coverage of the WPA update to Windows XP, Microsoft's KnowledgeBase article is a model of clarity and straightforwardness. The update works only with network adapters that support Wireless Zero Configuration (the built-in XP wireless client support) in Windows XP. Windows 2000, 2003, and other drivers need to get updates from their makers.

The software enables WPA, but the article wisely points out, as some articles didn't, that each access point and adapter manufacturer must enable WPA in the individual pieces of hardware through firmware updates.

WPA replaces the broken WEP system with the interim 802.11i work, including a robust new key (TKIP), appropriate packet integrity (Michael or MIC, in which the checksum is an integrity check and in the encrypted payload), and adds 802.1x support for network authentication, as well as the consumer pre-shared secret option.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:06 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Security

FatPort Hits New Heights

By Glenn Fleishman

FatPort on Top of the World (well, Vancouver, BC, at leaset): Canadian hot spot operator FatPort now offers service at the Vancouver Lookout observation deck; the Lookout is the tallest building in B.C. FatPort's corporate offices are located at the retail level of the building. "At 167 meters above ground-level, FatPort takes the crown for having the highest commercial hotspot in Canada," remarks FatPort Media Spokesperson Malcolm McDonald. Vancouver has pretty spectacular views of its unique architecture, coastline, lakes, rivers, and mountains. I can think of no better place to spend some time than on the observation deck on a sunny day.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:00 AM | Permanent Link | Categories:

Intel Releases Standalone Wireless Module

By Glenn Fleishman

Intel releases PRO/Wireless 2100 LAN MiniPCI Adapter as standalone component: The wireless adapter that's part of the laptop Centrino system is now available as a standalone component for integration with laptops via the mini-PCI slot. Although Centrino is described as a system, it's actually a Pentium-M processor, some support chips for various management tasks, and a mini-PCI wireless adapter.

Broadcom has already made some strides in offering its own mini-PCI 802.11g and 802.11a/g adapter to PC manufactuers. Dell offers Broadcom's option for new Latitude and Inspiron models under its TrueMobile name. HP just announced a revision to existing laptops that allows consumers to add 802.11b or g (for $50 or $70, respectively). More announcements of this kind are expected soon.

Centrino is about branding and co-marketing dollars, so as long as Dell and others offer Centrino computers -- all three elements -- they can get the marketing dollars, while still selling Pentium-M + alternative wireless laptops.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:56 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Adapters

By Glenn Fleishman

Welcome to the new home of Wi-Fi Networking News. The site is now hosted on my own hardware, which might allow me more flexibility in the future, and it's running using Movable Type, an excellent Web log system that meets my needs for publishing this site. Please check out the search interface at right, which is substantially improved over my old improvised Google link.

As always, feedback is welcome, as well as bug reports. The old or URL will continue to redirect indefinitely to the right location for archived postings and the home page.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:43 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: News | 1 Comment

ABA Climbs Heights of Ignorance

By Glenn Fleishman

ABA's committee produces cut and paste digital rights management report about Wi-Fi: Cory Doctorow, an educator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, eviscerates a report from the American Bar Assocation's committee studying new information technologies that recommends a variety of asinine protocol-level changes to support digital rights management (DRM). The changes are ridiculous because they would require massive infrastructure reworkings with no increased benefit to the users of the technology, only to a tiny number of rights holders.

DRM itself is not evil, but there has so far been no example of it which offers equal and fair-use rights to the individuals who are the victims of DRM while protecting the copyright and usage rights of intellectual property owners.

As a creator of intellectual property--a writer--I would like to see my IP used only in ways that I allow, which include unlimited use or release into the public domain. But only at my discretion. DRM as a concept is worthwhile if all the implementations didn't go hand in hand with criminalization and mass-media control--DRM doesn't help an individual like me yet.

(Disclosure: The EFF is suing 29 meda companies that have sued SonicBlue over ReplayTV on behalf of myself and four other plaintiffs. SonicBlue just went into bankruptcy and the sale of ReplayTV is pending to a Japanese firm.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:16 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Cluelessness

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