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Bob Rudis reviews Kensington's WiFi Finder and finds it wanting: Bob wrote in with some information about his earlier experience with the credit card sized device from Kensington that reports with one, two, or three green LEDs the signal strength of nearby 802.11b or g networks. I asked him if I could share his thoughts, and he agreed.
Just received a Kensington WiFi "Finder" in the post today. I usually am not too disappointed being an "early adopter," but in the case of this product, I wish I had put the money in the iPod piggy bank instead.
The package comes with a tiny, 11-page instruction booklet, a keychain ring and the WiFi "Finder" itself. The WiFinder (easier to type and a better name) is one of the flimsiest gadgets I own now. I would not attach it to my keychain, let alone put it in my pocket. It's the size of a very thick credit card with no quick, consumer-friendly access to the internals (e.g. for changing the battery).
I immediately tried it, since I have an open AP at home. At the time, there were no clients on the network, just the AP happily sending out beacon packets. The WiFinder didn't detect anything. I double-checked the settings of the AP and tried it again. Still no signal registering on the WiFinder.
On a hunch, I started up a couple WLAN clients and had them stream some music and d/l some game demos in order to create a good amount of 802.11b traffic. The WiFinder eventually did pick up the activity, but as soon as the traffic stopped (leaving the AP beacon only), the WiFinder couldn't find anything.
I was going to give their support organization some time to answer a few questions I submitted before contacting you and others, but when I was told that it would be 2 days before I would hear something, I had to start spreading the news.
I checked the Kensington web site support forum for other posts and two others have had problems with WLAN detection. The answers so far (from Kensington) indicate that this device will have trouble picking up anything but strong, open 802.11b AP's (they really backtrack on 802.11g support) with many operational clients. They explicity state that it will not detect WLAN's that have been "designed to be hidden" (whatever that means).
My recommendation is that folks save their money, buy an old iPAQ (or a Zaurus), get a WiFi card for it and run linux + kismet. It may be more expensive, but it will be worth the functionality.
Marriott International says that 1,700 budget hotels will get free Wi-Fi by 2005: This year, 1,200 Courtyard, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites get unwired with free broadband for guests with 600 ready to go; next year, 500 Fairfield Inns. STSN is one of six providers that will wire and unwire the properties. Marriott confirmed that this includes public space Wi-Fi and in-room wired broadband.
The Marriott and Renaissance brands, however, aimed at business travelers and higher-end guests, will still charge $9.95 for a package that includes unlimited local and long-distance calls, and unlimited broadband.
Seattle Wireless community networking group now has a Web broadcast show: This si the first effort I've seen in which a community group has produced a program intended for broadcast, Web or otherwise, although many meetings around the world have been streamed or archived for later retrieval.
Troubled with testing your network under real load? Emulate!: An intriguing product was announced today that can emulate the wireless load of 1 to 64 unique clients on a, b, and g networks. CMC offers TheEmulationEngine to load test Wi-Fi networks. I'm not sure if there are competing products specifically designed to pretend to be many clients?
The PSP, whatever that will be, will offer Wi-Fi: For a gaming device, it's a natural. Play will other, around the house, on the road. An easy sell, but will it be fun? Due out in Christmas. Whatever it is.
First, Dave Matthews; Now, the Stones: Nothing new to add here, but just another data point. A few months ago, Nigel Ballard of JoeJava and Personal Telco mentioned that Paul McCartney's band used Wi-Fi on the road, too, but more primitively. I hope these guys have 802.1x authentication running.
IEEE's 802.15.3a task group moves closer to an ultrawideband spec they can agree on: The proposal backed by Intel, TI, and many others -- Multiband OFDM Alliance -- got 60 percent of the vote, which means that in September they need 75 percent to avoid another round of balloting. They have to answer a few queries that are more about politics and a couple of technical points than about the fundamentals of the technology.
80 crew members for Dave Matthews Band are linked wirelessly: I don't recall Verizon promising to unwire 200,000 telephones -- more like a few thousand, right? -- but the article eventually gets around to talking about the cool uses to which the band puts Wi-Fi, including recording every note and coordinating all the cues. Most of the article, however, is general Wi-Fi history and market information. [via Om Malik]
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launches city-provided Wi-Fi service: Service is at Cathedral Square and Pere Marquette Park, says a man with five consecutive consonants at the start of his last name. The mayor rolled out the new offering that has Cisco and SBC as corporate donors behind it. [via Steve Filmanowicz]
What's with the news? I'm on deadline today for a long and complicated article that I'll be delighted to share with you all as early as Sunday night. Meanwhile, I have a huge backlog of wireless-related news that I'll start feeding out again by tomorrow afternoon, if possible. Do not adjust your set, don't touch the vertical (or the RSS feed) -- I will return!
Cometa unwires New York area McDonald's; AT&T sneaks their announcement out first: In this installment of "inside baseball," we note that Cometa announces that it will unwire 75 McDonald's stores in the New York Metro area; 60 are already done and launch tomorrow. The story was originally embargoed by Cometa until Wednesday, but AT&T claims the glory for putting their logo on the front. The New York area service will be $2.99 per day, but free through August.
Wayport is running the SF Bay McDonald's, and is charging $4.95 for two hours, but also allowing free access to Wayport's existing monthly subscribers and customers of its resellers, such as iPass.
Note that AT&T proper, not AT&T Wireless took credit for sticking their name on the login screen. (The backend is all run by Cometa.) AT&T Wireless is operating Denver's airport and offering Wayport-resold service as GoPort. AT&T, the parent company, has its name on Newark's airport, with service negotiated by Concourse and installed by NetNearU.
Is Tartara offering more than a turnkey box wired to Wayport's network?: I can't tell what Wayport's role in this announcement is. It sounds like Tartara has a turnkey hot spot box with backend authentication and billing, and is using Wayport's network (in trials) to demonstrate a seamless branded overlay. But it doesn't mention other networks, and Wayport's footprint is only one part of a larger network that any carrier would build out. It also seems like the market for Tartara's offering is small if Sprint PCS is one of the companies they cite as a good fit.
Insight, anyone? (Use the comments feature below.)
Penn. ISP to offer unlimited wireless for $9.95 per month subscription throughout several counties: One of PSINet's founders is partnering with PaOnline, a 12,000-customer ISP to deploy Wi-Fi hot spots in Harrisburg and throughout Dauphin County. The cost of 128 Kbps Wi-Fi will be bundled with existing dial-up service, apparently, which is $9.95 per month. Higher speeds might cost more in the future.
The city is also rolling out its own service, but at $9.95/month with dial-up, the PaOnline deal will be hard to beat, even for free.
The Wi-Fi entrepreneur says a hot zone can be created on about 48 hours notice -- true, and then the backhaul will take several months unless they're using wireless meshing or back-haul. [via Ross Karchner]
Coyote wild fire fought with help of wireless network: The folks in San Diego who brought us the world's longest link -- and then had to back down their power a bit when they realized they were over the legal limits -- have turned their powers once again to good in helping firefighters maintain communications and remote imaging using a series of wireless links. The National Science Foundation apparently provides some of the funding for the HPWREN project. [via TechDirt]
Two announcements from Canada today: Second Cup's 400 stores go unwired and SaskTel Mobility installs service: The former deal with NetWireless will dramatically increase the hot spot availability across the country, while FatPort's latter deal with SaskTel is more of a platform arrangement in which SaskTel will use FatPort's backend to unwire Regina and Saskatoon airports among other venues.
Update: FatPort's CEO wrote in to note that this is a twofer for FatPort, because NetWireless is another virtual hot spot operating (VHO, in their terminology) that uses FatPort's technology.
Yadda yadda yadda hype yadda dotcom yadda yadda Wi-Fi: Another sort of tedious mainstream article that looks at the present state of Wi-Fi hot spots and extrapolates that no additional users will ever increase the pool of money, and disregards the piles of evidence I found in a Seattle Times article a few weeks ago that venues are seeing an increase in business.
The bottom line in this piece is that it uses two reports to predict the future, and then looks at current numbers to explain why hot spots will fail. The Gartner report covered Europe and I think is ridiculously pessimistic. A hot spot CEO and I were talking the other day and he agreed with a statement I made: how many people have a Wi-Fi adapter in their laptop and don't use it? It begs to be used. Likewise, the scattered expensive hot spot market across Europe discourages high use, even though roaming is somewhat more prevalent than in the US.
The reporter also cites John Yunker's report about the future of per-user revenue for hot spots versus other telecommunications' flavors. Yes, the report makes sense, but what the reporter ignores is that in his model there are a substantial number of users. The per-user revenue is driven down in part because the cost of providing service becomes lower and more models of offering service will flourish.
I remember all the articles in 1997 timeframe that predicted the dotcom crash -- but for the wrong reason. They assumed that it was a fad and that no one would buy books from Amazon.com. In fact, the problem was basic business management and understanding how to scale to a profit with low margins, a fact that most ecommerce companies didn't understand. But the problem wasn't usage, interest, or (in many cases) actual revenue.
No one knows whether any of the current models for Wi-Fi hot spots will pan out. But it's obvious that we're still at the very beginning of the curve: if the crash happens, it will happen big, with 10,000s of hot spots installed worldwide. If success happens, it will be equally large, with tens of millions of monthly subscribers worldwide. But we just won't know for at least three or four years what the end of this story is.
Israel loosens 2.4 GHz usage rules, allowing existing telecom firms to deploy Wi-Fi: These new rules don't allow just anyone to offer commercial Wi-Fi, but they do make it easier for existing companies to do so. Interestingly, ISPs can offer Wi-Fi directly to their customers, but apparently not to the general public.
Cory Doctorow rips the Washington Post a new Ethernet port or two in eviscerating an article full of FUD: Listen, folks, how many people steal children away for any purpose? It's a small and horrible number. How much effort and money do we spend in our lives, those of us with and without children, ensuring that children are safe from this unlikely event that has dire outcomes? Individually, not so much; collectively, quite a bit.
Cory Doctorow makes a good case as he tears apart a poorly researched Washington Post article on Wi-Fi security that all of the fear, uncertainty, and dread (FUD) that wireless security consultants are pushing isn't illegitimate, but it's misplaced. Just because someone can hop on your wireless network doesn't make them malevolent, any more than someone listening to your public conversation at a restaurant doesn't mean they're writing down what you say and selling it to the highest bidder.
Yes, Wi-Fi makes need to make security better and simpler. And, you know what? They have. The article concludes with vague ideas about future security and mentions WEP, but ignores WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) which is appearing in shipping products and will be mandatory in all Wi-Fi branded gear by the end of the year. WPA fixes WEP's security holes and simplifies the use for home users: WPA can use a simple password instead of hexadecimal digits.
The ultimately irony for all this article's overstatements and misdirections: guess which is the only company that ships a wireless gateway that tries to force the user to secure the network and even creates a floppy disk that can be used to configure other machines on the same network?
Microsoft. Ah, the rich irony. Microsoft is using Wi-Fi internally more than practically any other company in the world, and they learned to make their dog food taste better and better.
Scott Rafer analyzes why free is cheaper to offer than for-fee hot spot service: This analysis is focused on the venue and operator, not the customer, in that billing and supporting customers costs, he says, $30/day/location versus $6/day/location for offering free service.
Scott's analysis is sound except for one glaring omission: free doesn't carry a promise of service with it, and the promise of availability, support, security, and quality is what will -- if anything does -- make commercial Wi-Fi hot spots a continuing reality. A free hot spot or network could disappear tomorrow based on the whim of the venue or operator and their changing model. Free doesn't involve a contract that works both ways: for value, we provide service. Free is one way: here you go, and take what you can get.
A for-fee system is more likely to be persistent and invest in innovation and special features because they have a motivation to retain and expand a subscriber base. But where does the subscriber base come from? From the kind of traveler who winds up spending a lot of time at captive venues: airports and hotels and conference centers. Captive venues may be unable to receive signals from Wi-Fi providers who aren't resident. And with reasonable 3G speeds further away (and some problems in using 2.5G inside concrete bunkers), captive Wi-Fi venues may remain captive.
As I've said many times before, these captive venues will always be able to decide whether to charge a fee because of the near-term lack of alternatives. Although John Yunker of Pyramid Research expects that most hotels will ultimately offer Wi-Fi and broadband for free as just another amenity within a few years, because it will be expected, like a dial tone, he misses a side issue, too.
Most analysts agree that there will continue to be a mix of fee and free hot spots, which means that business travelers will be forced to pay in many locations, especially airports. Which means that as prices drop, more travelers and corporations will find subscriptions more appealing, even if free service is available, because the free service may be in a forum non conveniens: a place hard to get to, as the lawyers call it.
Roaming is inevitable, and once you have a linked roaming network with predictable fees -- a la Sprint PCS's latest view of the world -- then you build subscribers who are willing to pay a fraction of their monthly cell phone bill for unlimited Wi-Fi. The price point has moved from $50+ per month down close to $20 per month with Boingo's recent price promotion and cell/Wi-Fi bundling deals by T-Mobile.
For-fee venues take on a different life when the cost isn't $6/hour or $10/day but $20 per month: even though the various venues get a smaller and smaller slice of that monthly fee, it still frees the venue from operating the network at their own expense.
We continue to focus on hot spots as a onesy-twosy service: travelers individually choosing to buy a connection or a subscription. iPass's IPO last week that gave them $100M in cash and $1B in valuation should reform our thinking. iPass resells access at a per-minute rate with some variation to entire corporations.
I do believe you could see locations that offer limited free service (email, restricted bandwidth adjusted dynamically, local location service, etc.) and expanded fee service (higher bandwidth, all service open, streaming media allowed) to subscribers of a network.
But as long as there are captive venues, a lack of broadband cellular data, an increase in roaming network agreements, and a widescale drop for unlimited service to the $20-odd/month level, we'll see a massive uptake in subscribers which will increase usage dramatically while lowering the venues' per-user take.
In effect, and ironically, many venues will probably see little enough revenue from for-fee services that it won't be part of their revenue calculations, but more focused on cost containment to retain passengers, guests, and members.
He's the man without fear, and he has a new book: Rob Flickenger, now of Seattle, has revised his Building Wireless Community Networks for a second edition. I haven't seen the new version yet, but you can read a sample chapter and view the latest table of contents. I liked the first version for its excitement, practical advice, and its broad horizons. The second edition looks so far like more of the how-to and practical along with more about how wireless elements work.
Portgual will offer inexpensive laptops to 150,000 educators and students: In an example of enlightened technology deployment, Portugal's goal isn't to subsidize laptop ownership with fuzzy ideas about how good things can result. Rather, they secured discounts from PC makers to sell these laptops -- and will offer loans to students without immediate resources -- to push Wi-Fi and computer ownership.
The government has already stated its aim of getting W-LAN access points installed in 50% of all businesses with nine or more employees and 50% of all households by 2005. Portugal has an internet penetration of around 57%, although only around 3% of the population has access to broadband services.
This is a way to bring everyone into the big tent with educational resources, information, entertainment, and entrepreneurial opportunities without taking people by the hand and giving them things they don't want and don't know how to use. [via TechDirt]
Brighton experiment: Let's put out a newspaper via Wi-Fi: The article has the obligatory "pier-to-pier" networking joke -- which made me laugh -- and turns the group into wireless dowsers: several of us are destined to spend much of the day experimentally walking around the beach, holding our computers at strange angles to try to get reception, and reflecting that this feels more like trying to get a picture out of an old television set than life at the cutting edge of communications technology.
Some of the less savory aspects of public computing rear their head, as in the comment on the Paris Metro Wi-Fi article a few days ago, although jokingly and in passing. In the end, the major risk to our equipment turns out to come from aggressive drunks, who threaten less devious forms of interference. and "That," she points out sagely, "is where the winos hang around. You want to watch those computers. They'll grow legs."
By the time drunks threaten their equipment, the writer has found another problem with wireless working in public spaces, it seems, is that it's frequently far too noisy to actually do anything.
I don't think I've ever read anything before in which a group of people tries to accomplish a specific work goal of any scale at a remote location. Sure, this happens at conferences in press rooms all the time with Web-based publications, but that's not the same as showing up at a beach and creating a professional print publication. [via Smart Mobs]
France opens up the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands for unlicensed use (in French): The appropriately named Thomas Gee (as in 802.11Gee) reports that France now allows private unlicensed use of 13 Wi-Fi channels in 2.4 GHz, and private/personal use of 5 GHz. (The 14th channel in 2.4 GHz seems to still be a Japanese thing.)
Public use is limited to 2.4 GHz requires filing a little paperwork, but it's not complicated. Limits on power and other issues vary based on the region the network is in (urban versus two other categories) and which band, 2.4 or 5 GHz.
M. Gee also points out that Apple equipment shipped to France only uses the previously legal channels 10 to 13, and that he has started a petition to request that the company provide firmware upgrades for older equipment.
Couple sets up 42-square-block area with free Wi-Fi in St. Louis: Following Michael Oh's model with Newbury Open Network, the folks behind O2Connect donated $25K of gear and their time plus what they estimate as ultimately more than $1K per month for the pure good will of it all. [via David Ponder]
iPass goes public and GRIC reports good earnings: In a conveniently timed twofer, iPass went public, raising $100M and producing a market cap of $1 billion; GRIC reported earnings which show them in a good cash position, almost stanching losses entirely, and poised for additional growth.
Oddly, the GRIC release refers to them deploying and buidling a network, when, in my understanding, they deploy their hardware to partner networks but aren't building infrastructure at all.
Both companies rely on other firms for service and their combined market cap is probably larger than the vast majority of their partner ISPs combined.
AT&T races against investment deadline to bring 3G to life: AT&T Wireless is finally buying UMTS gear to build out a W-CDMA network, the third-generation step up from GSM. If they don't have six cities running with 384 Kbps by Dec. 31, 2004, they have to return over $6 billion to NTT DoCoMo. Early cities for testing should be Seattle and San Francisco.
Confusingly, even though it's called W-CDMA, it's not directly connected to second-generation CDMA service offered by U.S. carriers. Those carriers, like Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless, step up to 1xRTT, 1xEvDO, 1xEV-DV, and eventually 3x flavors that expand on CDMA. Somewhere in here, Qualcomm owns quite a few patents.
MIT using rooftop antennas to test how networks can self-organize: It sounds like a form of mesh, but obviously the protocols are less rigid. They're recruiting volunteers across a map of Cambridge who want to mount an antenna on their roof and spend roughly $2 per month in electricity to get intermittent service during the test.
Despite free Wi-Fi service near and in Metro and train stations, usage was low: Esme Vos writes that only 1,700 people tried the free Wi-Fi in Paris during the first three months of the trial. A large minority only used it once (probably tracked via their MAC address). When Parisians return from their month-long vacations, they'll find it's now 10 euros an hour to use the service that they weren't using in large numbers anyway.
British Telecom forges agreement to roam its customers onto Airpath hot spots: Following on the heels of Airpath's Sprint PCS partnership, BT will allow its customers to start roaming while traveling in the US onto the Airpath network. Airpath currently claims 350 hot spot locations, but they have 1,500 hot spot devices shipped. Of the 1,150 not-yet-active nodes, 900 will be flipped on soon, the company confirmed in email with me. The press release has Airpath predicting 4,600 locations within a year. Airpath sells its solution to individual ISPs or locations and handles billing and authentication for them.
BT subscribers can already roam onto TeliaSonera's partner network across Europe, which has nearly 700 locations. BT itself has only unwired a few hundred, but with TeliaSonera and Airpath, they now claim over 1,700 locations worldwide.
TeliaSonera's roaming generally involves cross-network fees, and I'm assuming that because the Airpath/BT press release doesn't discuss fees that there actually are roaming charges. Companies are careful to state when roaming is free.
IDG offers more details on T-Mobile, British Telecom joining Worldwide Broadband Alliance: When I spoke to Sprint PCS about their Wi-Fi plans two days ago, they repeatedly noted that T-Mobile's closed network didn't help T-Mobile that much because the company lacks tier one locations. Sprint PCS's avowed plan is to allow roaming on their network and partner to allow their customers roaming on other networks.
While today's word that T-Mobile and British Telecom will join a mostly Asian roaming alliance seems to be a chink in that wall, don't forget Pass One, which comprises Wayport, FatPort, and three networks you've probably never heard of. This consortium was something Wayport trumpeted briefly as a way to increase international traffic before they moved on to opening their network for access for a fee to all the aggregators and resellers.
The difference between Pass One and the Worldwide Broadband Alliance is that the former has hundreds of locations, and the latter at least 10,000 already, with 20,000 predicted. Fold in T-Mobile and British Telecom's 2003 footprint expectations, and that's practically another 4,000 to 5,000 of the total.
But it's hard to say whether this "openness" bodes well for roaming intra-U.S., and whether it's of the old-school cell roaming pricing, like a buck a minute for using someone else's network. The key advantage of this alliance should be single log-on, single bill. But if you wind up paying more for roaming than for buying pay-as-you-go time, the roaming alliance would make no sense.
Portland, Oregon, ballpark objects to free Wi-Fi...sort of: The Portland community networking group PersonalTelco worked with a business near minor-league baseball stadium PGE Park -- PGE, a fine division of Enron, poor suckers -- to shoot free wireless in.
Unfortunately, the park's management felt this conflicted with their arrangements with Comcast, a major sponsor. You can understand their concern. Minor league ball teams need all the help they can get to bring in fans and pay the bills. Nonetheless, unlicensed triumphs again. There's really nothing they can to do to stop the free flow.
Scattered reports indicate T-Mobile and British Telecom (BT) have joined roaming consortium centered in Asia: However, because the coverage is all outside of the countries in which T-Mobile and BT have most of their customers, I'm waiting to see whether it's correct.
In just the latest news, Wayport works with Zinio to offer digital magazines to Wi-Fi users: Wayport has gone from a who's-that company lost in Texas, known only to those of us who cover the industry closely, to a bold-faced firm in an article in Tuesday's New York Times business section filed by yours truly. The Times reserves bold face for company's of a certain nature or scale that deserve to be listed in their daily index.
Wayport was fairly adamant in early 2001 about their model: seize on chains, build their infrastructure mostly at Wayport's expense, and install more and more service. Even though Wayport was built on wired broadband, and apparently still realizes most of its revenue from the wireline in hotel rooms, Wi-Fi was part of the buzz.
Fast forward to a few months later, and partnership is the word of the day: open the network to partners, starting with iPass; open infrastructure costs to be shared with partner hotels. This strategy and the hospitality industry weakness slowed down deployment, but also reduced cash burn, clearly.
Their strategy from a partnership has paid off. Boingo founded its network firmly on Wayport's now 500-location-strong base, and GRIC, Sprint PCS, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, and other firms have no choice but to work with Wayport because they have the single largest airport and hotel footprint. No one else comes close to offering top-tier business locations.
Competition is nipping at the heels in the hotel world (STSN [several hundred locations, Intel investment], StayOnline [100+], LodgeNet [entertainment in 5,600 hotels]) and airport land (the self-same Sprint PCS, AT&T Wireless, and T-Mobile). The latest requests for proposals from both hotels and airports might be at a scale that Wayport, like some other firms, can't find a route to profitability through the commitment needed in the proposal to bear costs for many a year.
Can a private firm with multiple rounds of financing manage to counter a combination of up-and-comers at both the top and bottom end? Can their McDonald's test in San Francisco pay off big time and allow them to become one of, or, perish the thought, the provider for national McWi-Fi?
As I talk to analysts about the hot spot market, it's clear that eyes are on Wayport -- as an acquisition target by one of the cellular companies. This is speculation: no one has names or even a hint of a purchase being discussed. But a company with tens of millions in investment and tens of millions paid out in infrastructure needs an order of magnitude additional funding to fight the infrastructure battle against the cell operators and Cometa.
Wayport should be walking tall -- and looking over its shoulder.
While Microsoft has its XP upgrade to support Wi-Fi Protected Access, Meetinghouse delivers WPA on Windows 98 through XP and NT through 2000: Meetinghouse has been the stalwart in the secured authentication market by supporting many flavors of operating systems and many kinds of tunneled security. Their latest client has the full spectrum of post-Win95 support, but also handles not just WPA and 802.1x but both PEAP (Microsoft/Cisco secured EAP) and EAP-TTLS (favored by other parts of the industry).
The real timetable for third-generation CDMA starting to emerge: Yesterday, Verizon Wireless explained that their 1xEvDO (400 to 800 Kbps with peak 2.4 Mbps theoretically) would be tried out in San Diego and Washington, D.C., but they made no promises about national deployment -- yet. They're testing pricing and real-world service.
This story above shows that, as Sprint PCS told me yesterday, their 1xEV-DV (data/voice) won't really be deployed for two to three years, but now they're committed to it. This timetable seems much more realistic on several fronts. First, Sprint PCS now has an intermediate plan: unlimited 2.5G plus Wi-Fi. Second, the cost and timetable isn't absurd. They have the spectrum, the equipment exists, and they know how long it might take. Third, the adoption curve for laptops with advanced wireless communication options benefits the two-to-three-year deployment. By that time, Intel and every Wi-Fi maker will have integrated cell/Wi-Fi/other-flavor cards or mini-PCI. Everyone will be primed for 3G.
Pricing still remains in question, of course, and Wi-Fi will have primed everyone as well for cheaper high-speed service. If you charge, say, $22 per month for unlimited national hot spot Wi-Fi usage, it becomes hard to charge, say, $250 per month for unlimited slower ubiquitous 3G usage. You've trained your customers to pay less.
The enterprise angle on Sprint PCS's Wi-Fi service: This is the InfoWorld article I filed this morning which focuses on the roaming angle for Sprint PCS's Wi-Fi network that they're aggregating and building. For enterprises, the fact that a carrier like Sprint PCS is yelling roaming might open up networks for more cross-fertilization.
20,000 hot spots across Asian linked up: South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australian hot spot operators have linked their networks. The news article says 20,000 hot spots, but TechDirt expects its more like 10,000 now and 20,000 expected by year's end. [via ]
NY Times brief on Sprint PCS Wi-Fi plans: I was only able to file a short amount on Sprint PCS's plan to roll out service at 800 Wayport and Airpath locations and, later, 1,300 of its own hot spots. Here's the rest of the reporting following on the brief linked above:
Sprint PCS will offer customers a software program, developed in-house, that allows access to either the 1xRTT cellular network or Wi-Fi hot spots in the Sprint PCS network. Charges for Wi-Fi services will be included on Sprint PCS cellular bills by the end of 2003. Although Sprint PCS was an early investor in Boingo Wireless, a company that packages access to 1,200 hot spots through a single bill, business marketind director Jason Guesman said that Boingo’s network was not part of the current plans.
Sprint PCS intends to support roaming among other hot spots networks aggressively, Guesman said. "No single operator will own all the tier one hotspots," such as hotels and airports, he said, and most of these venues will allow only a single operator. "A robust roaming marketplace is important to the long-term survival and health of Wi-Fi in the public space," he said.
Sarah Kim, a wireless industry analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said, Sprint PCS is "relatively confident into trying to turn their customers from one type of business model to another."
But Kim doubted Sprint PCS's roaming plans. "While a carrier can resell from smaller carriers, like Internet service providers, from a competitive perspective it doesn’t make sense to resell to their direct competitors" such as AT&T Wireless, which operates Wi-Fi service under the GoPort name only in the Denver International Airport. For customers, Ms. Kim said, "What's important is that it’s at the right locations, at many locations, and the price is right."
As the appearance of high-speed third-generation or 3G networks have lagged, other cellular operators have built or announced their own hot spots networks as they pursue tests and trials of faster cellular data systems. Sprint PCS is "still in the lab" with its combined voice/data offering, Mr. Guesman said. "It's probably a technology that you’ll see in the next couple of years."
Verizon Wireless said earlier in the year that their customers would have access to Wayport’s network, and a spokesman confirmed that today. Jeffrey Nelson said the company has not set pricing or a date for start of service. Verizon Wireless’s parent company has plans to install up to 1,000 hot spots throughout New York City during 2003 for exclusive use by its DSL customers. Nelson said that no plans had yet been made to link the cellular and DSL hot spot networks. Verizon Wireless also provides unlimited 1xRTT service for $80 per month nationwide.
Nelson noted that Verizon Wireless would start trials shortly in San Diego and Washington, D.C., of 1xEvDO (evolution data only) 3G service, which he said could operate at several hundred kilobits per second. But Nelson noted that the company hasn’t yet committed to a national EvDO deployment. "We’re looking to prove out business cases to see what makes sense," he said.
T-Mobile’s HotSpot division has the largest footprint of Wi-Fi hot spots in the U.S., with nearly 2,700 locations as of today, mostly in Starbucks and Borders Books stores. The network currently allows no roaming or reciprocal arrangements with other hot spot networks. Kim said usage in Starbucks stores averages two users a day in most locations.
Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless’s plans may have been an attempt to neutralize T-Mobile’s hot spot advantage, Kim said. T-Mobile's cellular data option, GPRS, is slower and more expensive per than 1xRTT offerings and large-scale trials of a faster service known as EDGE been delayed, she said.
Keep your chickens in different baskets is Verizon Wireless's policy and SprintPCS extends to Wi-Fi: The first article confirms early announcements by Verizon Wireless to offer its high-speed 1xEvDO (evolution data-only) cellular data service in San Diego and Washington, D.C., and that it will offer Wi-Fi access on a complementary (not complimentary) basis to cell customers using Wayport's network, among others.
Interestingly, since Verizon's DSL business is installing hot spot service for its customers, you'd think that the wireless division would want or would announce that it would have access to it, as well. A spokesperson told me there's no current plan to link the Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless Wi-Fi access.
The second article unveils SprintPCS's plans to launch Wi-Fi service to complement their 2.5G service in partnership with Wayport (500+ hot spots) and AirPath (300+). Interestingly, SprintPCS predicts 2,100 locations by year's end. SprintPCS is a Boingo investor, and no mention of Boingo in these releases. Boingo currently includes over 1,200 hot spots, 500 of those being Wayport locations.
No pricing information has been announced on either front.
(Later on Monday, Sprint PCS said they're talking to AT&T Wireless about roaming; I spoke to the biz-dev director quoted earlier today and he didn't mention this particular deal, which isn't finalized nor does it have any schedule or fee settlement pricing attached yet.)
Clearly, this leaves Cingular, my cell phone provider, the odd man out. T-Mobile has its HotSpot division. AT&T Wireless has GoPort. SprintPCS and Verizon Wireless now have their plans. I'm not sure what Nextel plans to do yet, but they haven't been opposed to Wi-Fi.
Cometa seems unlikely to meet 20,000 hot spot target at current pace: While they may surprise us all, the amount of observation of Cometa's moves is so intense that it's unlikely to remain on a submarine basis if they sign a big chain with which they can deploy hot spot infrastructure. (For instance, I had a list of the 10 NYC McDonald's outlets the night before the launch from a friendly colleague unassociated with Cometa.)
Hot spot operators have told me again and again that the venues just don't exist to roll out 20,000 locations of a nature that cell operators and others would want as part of a partner/aggregator relationship for business travelers. Further, Cometa doesn't seem to have anything up its sleeve for the short-term.
I talked to wireless analysts Sarah Kim of the Yankee Group for a news item in tomorrow's New York Times about Sprint PCS's Wi-Fi announcement, and she said in passing about the optimistic hot spot build-out schedules, "Everyone seems very aggressive with these numbers, but as we’ve seen so far with Cometa, nothing much has happened."
Likewise, Sprint PCS throwing its hat in the ring means another 1,300 locations that they expect to own the infrastructure of -- and they've been unwiring hotels, businesses, and colleges for two years. Cometa can point to their McDonald's outlets. Who wins the venue in that comparison?
Intel, Linksys to stick logos all over boxes: I'm sounding cynical, but I'm actually not. I'm just enjoying the press release's focus on the brand names and programs, rather than the simple benefit: Intel's Centrino verification will mean that all the Linksys stuff will work with Centrino software and hardware without any monkeying around.
Intel already proved that it can help hot spots (and vice versa) by troubleshooting what breaks simplicity. They're bringing this to Linksys, a Cisco division, as a tool to get their name and Centrino's name on more users' minds. Even if you don't own a Centrino, when you buy a Linksys box, the Centrino name will be on it.
In the future, they'll actually make this more useful, by integrating a kind of plug-and-play functionality that will allow a Centrino-equipped device to talk to a Linksys device for automatic configuration.
Pyramid predict 700 million Wi-Fi users worldwide by 2008: The report notes that average revenue per user goes way, way down while other data transport methods have a slight drop during the same period.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak drops stealth: wireless tracking in 900 MHz, ubiquitously (free reg. required): Woz's company, Wheels of Zeus (WOZ, get it?) has a device that can opportunistically use any local network operating in its format to report on GPS-identified whereabouts of people, animals, and things. WOZ uses the 900 MHz unlicensed band, and operates at about 20 Kbps.
Interestingly, many of the location-based Wi-Fi systems use the flip side of this: they figure that range is small so if you identify the location of the access point, you can triangulate on a user and pinpoint their location. WozNet identifies the location of each low-speed, long-range (1 to 2 mile) device, liberating the access points.
It's not too far in the future that GPS becomes a necessity for travelers and affordably built in. This is yet another example of its utility.
Grand Central and Penn Station have hot spots?: Call me surprised and call me uninformed, and then call me a cab to Lexington and 57th. I had no idea that Penn and Grand Central had hot spot service, but in Boingo's latest promotion email, they noted the Penn service.
Which brings me to a side point: if you know of hot spot operators that are not listed in the Hot Spot Operators list at left, please let me know.
New Sony CLIE PEG-UX50 has wireless a-plenty, runs Palm OS, but has odd form factor: This strange-looking "Palm" has a small keyboard, a twist-and-rotate design for maneuvering the screen, and built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It might become the de rigeur infowarrier device to substitute for a laptop. [via Nigel Ballard]
Fortune interviews Scott Rafer (WiFinder), who knells doom for cell carriers' pricing models, but not cell itself: The crux of Scott's remarks are: [Rafer] faults the carriers, especially in Europe, for a hubristic presumption they can control their destiny. He says their "immature business planning processes" aren't prepared for a disruptive technology, because they've never really seen one in their industry.
I just had a long conversation along these lines with a fellow tech journalist at lunch today: the carriers believe that they control the vertical market, they control the horizontal distribution, and that market forces don't apply to them because who will challenge them? As the interviewer, David Kirkpatrick notes earlier in the article that on a conference call for a summit in January 2002 he asked cell carrier execs why they weren't talking about Wi-Fi. The general reaction: Wi-Fi would be important, but not for a long time, and didn't represent a major threat to incumbent carriers.
Wi-Fi's quasi-grassroots success stems from people wanting to own their own destiny. Two Wi-Fi radios are worthwhile, three a useful network, a few million and it's a revolution.
Rafer also points out that the carriers could have lunch eaten by those who seize on the potential: "Microsoft and Intel and Sony and others have realized they can't predict the outcome. So when they see a disruptive technology coming they bet on all sides of it, just like a venture capitalist. They know they have to continue to dominate, and whatever money they lose by betting wrong is lost in the profits from eventually winning." [via TechDirt]
Intel and Microsoft's 802.11 investment shows their interest in riding interactive bandwagon that cell phones are leading: An interesting piece of analysis from the always thought provoking Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist of long standing, who has seen Wi-Fi's potential much earlier than most.
Gurley argues that cell phones' lack of luster was due to their lag in supplying services people didn't know they wanted, but which the uptake and revenue rate on shows there's a market for. Mostly interactive media is at stake, and new phones will offer even more of this.
Meanwhile, he points out that the global market for computers has slowed, and there are more cell phone owners and a faster phone sales market than that for computers. Intel (as I wrote in the Seattle Times a couple of months ago) and Microsoft both need to keep up on Wi-Fi as part of the edge they can wield while Wi-Fi's advantage is strong -- but Gurley misses the fact that Intel and Microsoft will slide their way right into the cell data world and cell telephone world by continually updating their wireless offerings.
What Centrino is today -- plain jane 802.11b -- doesn't reflect tomorrow. Intel could easily plop in 802.11a/g, Bluetooth/802.15.1, and one or more 2.5G/3G standards in the same card slot in the next-generation, and turn their laptops into hubs for cell data, for cell-computer interaction, and for wireless high-speed networking without skipping a beat.
TechDirt tears apart post hoc reasoning in analysts reports on the "failure" of hot spots: TechDirt wisely describes why reports that show that people aren't using hot spots aren't a good predicter of whether people will use in the future because the analysts don't provide a case for the low uptake. Couple that with the hockey stick upswing in usage I'm hearing and Boingo's drop in price, and I think we have a different story than the one the analysts perpetuate.
Mike Masnick also notes that he doesn't have a subscription to any hot spot network. Neither do I. Don't be shocked.
I travel about a week out of every six to eight, usually to one destination. I leave from Seatac (Wayport, and thus Boingo, iPass, GRIC, etc.). I fly into Newark (soon AT&T and by extension Wayport, etc.), San Francisco (T-Mobile, still not open to other vendors despite agreement), San Jose (Wayport, but too small an airport for my needs), and Boston (Logan's misguided "pay us and don't make money" RFP just out).
I use a Mac, thus no support from aggregators (yet). I don't like Starbucks coffee much (too burnt for my taste). Everywhere I go there's free wireless, including the coffeeshop 10 blocks from my office. I have Wi-Fi at home and at my office. When I'm at conferences, I typically get free Wi-Fi either in the press room or speaker room. In the hotels I stay in, they either have no service or wired only.
So tell me where in that equation would a subscription help? I've probably spent a grand total of $75 in the last 12 months on Wi-Fi access. What would tip me over? Roaming, seamless roaming. 2.5G/Wi-Fi service plans. More airports. Mac Boingo client.
Any of those factors could pull $20 or $30 out of my pocket each month -- and the pockets of somewhere between 5 and 10 million other business travelers who travel at my frequency with a laptop who are aching for better service. Any takers?
Seattle Wireless tries to bring out a Linksys WRT54G's true nature: Linux!: As has been reported earlier, Linksys has made available a variety of the open-source code used underneath some of its hardware, as is required by the licenses they used. (Of course, one source told me not for attribution that Linksys has withheld critical parts of the whole, some of which could be construed as obligatory to also be released under the General Public License.)
Rob Flickenger and Seattle Wireless are trying to use that information to modify the WRT54G, Linksys's 802.11b-based four-port Ethernet switch and wireless gateway, but have run up against a stumbling block that prevents the unit from running new code. They're appealing to Linksys to provide them those details, as that could make the WRT54G the de facto community box. [via Drew]
The always quotable Sky Dayton at the Always On conference (last item): Sky says, Until we have seamless roaming in Wi-Fi, the business will continue to be fragmented.
Of course, we're one or two pieces away from that: if T-Mobile allows aggregation or peering, the network becomes one giant entity.
My short account of the Kensington WiFi Finder: You have to love the copy editors at the New York Times who can take a few graphs on such a bizarre and wonderful device as the Kensington wireless network finder and produce the headline above. I should have one in my hands shortly; they're in production now.
Are hot spots hot beds of illegal pirated filesharing? Yes and no: There's no way to know and no records are kept at most locations that share network access, including private individuals and public parks. Although the RIAA and others could track down a location, they'd have a hard time holding someone responsible who didn't actually perform an illegal act, but was just running a wireless connection.
Interestingly, if you're acting like an ISP, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann argues that you should also get the same protections as an ISP. Lohmann contends that individuals and businesses that operate open Wi-Fi hot spots should be eligible for the same legal shields that ensure that ISPs aren't liable for the online actions of their customers.
(Disclosure: The EFF is representing me and four co-plaintiffs in the Newark v. Turner et al lawsuit involving digital television recording.)
Free Wi-Fi in Paris's Parc de la Villette this summer: As Parisians filter out for their five-week vacations in the mountains and on the sea, free Wi-Fi sponsored in part by France Telecom appears.
ExpandBeyond releases PocketAdmin for handheld remote administration: This is the kind of application that justifies purchasing a PocketPC for system administrators. It gives them in-the-palm (oops, in-the-pocket) control over an array of tasks using SSL-based transaction security and other authentication. Your IT manager about to get on a plane? No problem: they whip out the PocketPC, log on to Wayport/Boingo/T-Mobile/GoPort, and rebuild the directory or disable an account.
Intersil sells Wi-Fi products to GlobespanVirata: I feel like I'm writing a headline on the order of "US out of North America," but Wi-Fi pioneer Intersil has an agreement to sell all of its wireless 802.11a, b, and g portfolio. GlobespanVirata is fabless chipmaker, which means they design and then outsource the actual fabrication (fab).
Analysts are pointing to Broadcom's slamdunk early entrance into 802.11g chipmaking as pushing Intersil to this option, although the company will receive substantial cash and stock as part of the deal, allowing them to focus on power management and other areas in which they still have an advantage. GlobespanVirata makes DSL chips as well, and will be able to integrate Intersil's technology with their own for DSL modem manufacturers.
Intersil's exit isn't a complete surprise, however, as analysts have pointed to the enormous pressure on smaller chip companies that had an early advantage in 802.11b and even 802.11a, but have lost that lead with the massive push by major chipmakers into 802.11g and a/g. Atheros is the last man standing without a diversified chip portfolio. Broadcom, for instance, also makes Ethernet chips and other networking products.
Upcoming meeting should narrow options for ultrawideband support in IEEE 802.15.3a: UWB has enormous potential, but always seems just a few years off. This upcoming meeting should narrow down proposals enormously. The prediction is products incorporating the Personal Area Network (PAN) standards of the 802.15 committee (a Bluetooth subset/parallel) by 2005 over UWB.
Agere assembles Wi-Fi + voice in one small package: At just $30 per chipset in the sampling range (that is, before large quantities are shipped or ordered), this power-managing set of telephony and wireless chips could become the de facto basis for VoIP in the home. An arm of NTT in Japan will make the phones available for their customers; meanwhile, Agere is using some of NTT's technology to make the phones easier to configure.
UK service can start allowing shared network connections July 25: Onerous UK regulations are eased after the latest WRC regulatory confab, and 2.4 GHz is now license-free in the UK. This means that MyZones can offer its shared-network service much like Speakeasy Network's NetShare. A 512 Kbps DSL connection costs about £35 (US$57).
The program sounds rather flexible, although all the details quoted in the article aren't yet on their Web site. They want to turn individuals and shops into hot spots and mini-ISPs. Forget mesh -- let's have micro-ISP-cells.
Article makes case that Centrino's Wi-Fi component enabled Intel to sell more laptops and make more money: The article blurs the line a bit between whether there was more money to be made via Wi-Fi itself (where margins are low, but Intel might have picked up a buck or two per laptop chipset) or by selling more laptop chipsets because Wi-Fi was an included option.
For instance, Jimmy Chang, an analyst at U.S. Trust Corp., which manages $80 billion and owns Intel shares..."Intel makes more money bundling the Wi-Fi chips along with the microprocessor." I can see how you could interpret this statement either way.
People are spending more for Centrino, the article says at one point, but that's just at IBM's site. Centrino and Pentium-M computers have a huge price range, and I don't know that anyone's done a feature-for-feature, dollar-for-dollar comparison.
Why are folks passionate about Wi-Fi? I've been pondering for years why people are so passionate about Wi-Fi. Does anyone, except Bob Metcalfe, have emotional feelings for Ethernet? Ethernet is a pal, a friend, a strapping buddy who has put on more muscles over the year, and treats you with affection. But Wi-Fi is your lover, your confident, your partner.
One speculation: everyone feels like they found Wi-Fi, not like Wi-Fi found them. Your radio waves met across the room and it was true love, and true zealotry. So many people who have "discovered" Wi-Fi, including myself, have such strong feelings for it, that we pimp it and encourage its promiscuity.
Have many partners! Have an open relationship! Be indiscriminate and fast! More, more, more, we cry, urging the love of our flashing LED lights on. The more you share Wi-Fi, the more Wi-Fi loves you.
Truly, our love for Wi-Fi comes in part from our hatred for our ex's, who we have to see every day: the telcos and the cable companies. The wirelines. Oh, do we hate the wirelines. They treated us poorly, but we stuck with them, because we'd made such an investment in the relationship. We finally broke up with them, and we found that we couldn't move out and we still had to pay rent. How we hate them.
Wi-Fi (and soon WiMax) is that special someone who came to us in our hour of need, who filled us with data in a way that we never thought we could be filled -- the wirelines told us there was no way that we could ever have that kind of relationship with anyone but them, and they weren't ready to commit.
Yes, we love Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi loves us. The question is, how big will the family become? And when we can we truly kiss that skank wireline's shiny metal ass goodbye?
Horrible, horrible short answer to a question on Wi-Fi security in the Village Voice: An insanely uninformed, erratic, error-filled response from someone writing as Mr. Roboto.
Should I take the robot apart into its components? Logic dictates that I do.
The big problem with WEP isn't its frailty but the fact that hardware manufacturers rarely turn it on by default. WEP can't be turned on by default, but has to be set up since the user needs to install the same password everywhere. Microsoft, as I understand it, is the only manufacturer to have a process that sort of forces you to set up WEP.
...it's imperative that you change the system identifier (SSID), or network name, which often comes installed as an easy-to-guess factory default like, well, "default." Some networks will grant access to anyone who can type in the SSID, which means some very bad dudes could commandeer your machine as you obliviously soak up the rays.
Mr. Roboto, you don't need to know the SSID to connect to a network. Most software, including Microsoft and Apple's built-in clients, automatically display a list of all networks that are available.
If you're buying something online, for instance, make sure the bar at the bottom of the page is showing a padlock, the sign of its being encrypted. Good advice, but then: Internet Explorer users should check to see that the SSL 3.0 box is checked under the "Advanced" tab of "Internet Options." Huh? SSL is a basic option in browsers for years -- I've never even heard of this option, as no one needs to set it.
More accomplished users should download the latest Secure Sockets Layer tool kit from openssl.org. Whew. And...do what with it? OpenSSH is a kit for building secure tools or using SSH-based connections, like port forwarding. But on its own, it's not helpful.
Mr. Roboto ably explains VPNs, their utility and difficulty, but then: The good news is that the Wi-Fi industry's about to mothball WEP in favor of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which'll supposedly be simpatico with public hot spots, too. The hardware's supposed to start hitting store shelves in the fall...
WPA doesn't actually help public hot spots at all. First, all devices need to support WPA for WPA to be enabled. Second, how can public hot spots use WPA? They'd have to distribute a shared password (the pre-shared key, as it's known). Third, WPA only protects the local link, so even if it were enabled, it doesn't protect a system from your machine all the way out to the Internet. Fourth, WPA is already appearing in firmware upgrades now, and most current devices (like 802.11g equipment) should have WPA enabled soon.
Mr. Roboto needs some new positronic circuits.
(I've been reminded after posting this story that Mr. Roboto is the same fellow who wrote the cover story on Sky Dayton in Wired magazine that I eviscerated.)
Procom introduces Taurus: storage, servers, and 600 feet of Wi-Fi: This emerging category of Wi-Fi network appliances grew today with the introduction of Taurus, which can be configured to hold up to 250 Gb of storage, and a laundry list of software servers.
The software listed in specifications reads like an advertisement for open-source and free software, as the device features mail service of all kinds; SMB and AppleTalk filesharing; proxy Web serving; regular Web serving; FTP and MySQL/PostgreSQL; and a host of other items, all running on a Linux kernel.
I almost forgot: it has a robust omnidirectional antenna that the company claims offers a 600-foot radius (not diameter), and the device is Wi-Fi certified.
The only gotcha: it's got a $1,700 price tag for the base configuration. Still, if it has ease of use of administration, this one integated box could replace several devices and lots of setup for a small organization that needs these services. If they added a VPN server (not just "support" for VPNs, which means passthrough), this device could be a category killer.
Speakeasy NetShare may spell the beginning of real Neighborhood Area Networking: Speakeasy's NetShare service, written about all over the place today, allows a DSL or T-1 customer to share their connection with anyone they like and have Speakeasy bill their sharers directly, while rebating 50 percent of those fees against their direct customers' bill.
In a meeting last week with Speakeasy at a 10th floor showroom apartment in Seattle's hip Belltown neighborhood where Speakeasy was showcasing stream digital technologies and Wi-Fi for a contest, CEO Mike Apgar explained that many of their initial NetShare customers were surprisingly T-1 users.
Speakeasy offers DSL through partners in many locations, but T-1 is available more ubiquitously due to its more robust nature as a dedicated circuit. Speakeasy's pricing for T-1 runs under $400 per month for fractional (symmetral 384 Kbps) and up to $700 per month for full (1.544 Mbps).
This cost is high except for the many people who find themselves out of the range of DSL and either unable to get cable service or displeased with 128 Kbps capped upload speeds.
I receive email all the time from nascent Neighborhood Area Networks (NANs), and their big problem until now has been organizational. They don't know how to order the T-1, how to get it running, how to split service, how to give everyone email access.
In this new NetShare model, Apgar said, one customer signs up and the neighbors chip in $60 to $100 per month as their share. This might seem expensive except if you're in an area where there's little or possibility of service. With a T-1 and a legal powerful omni antenna, or some point to point links using devices that support Wireless Distribution System (WDS), suddenly you've got a NAN.
I'm hoping someone produces a do-it-yourself NAN guide, along the lines of Rob Flickenger's Building Wireless Community Networks but shorter and entirely focused on the practical details of NANs including which equipment and antennas to buy.
MCI corporate access customers will have access to Wayport's network: In a natural extension, customers who use MCI for corporate remote access will be able to use the same account for Wayport hot spots.
Interestingly, what iPass mentioned to me in this regard -- and a model followed by GRIC as well -- is that corporations want to set up their own accounts on their own networks and have aggregators and partners authenticate via the corporate system. If I set up "jimjohn" at corporate HQ, when "jimjohn" is on the road with iPass, they log in as "jimjohn" and iPass passes through the authentication (combined with new cool one-time user mixing that happens on the backend) via the local ISP/wISP partner all the way through to the enterprise via hardware or software that iPass has on site.
Corporate customers don't just want accounts: they want integrated, single sign-on authentication using existing systems coupled with detailed billing that can be used to track expenses. That's why the MCI and AT&T tie-ins are naturals for iPass and GRIC but not so much Boingo and Wayport, which run their own authentication system -- at least as far as I know.
Intel's interest in Wi-Fi and long-haul is transforming wireless: John Markoff files the counter-punch to the several articles recently that question whether Wi-Fi's boom is about to bust by dissecting what exactly Wi-Fi is: it's not just for-fee hot spots. You'll note a pithy remark by yours truly about Intel, which Markoff notes has several irons in the fire to push adoption of high-speed networking everywhere. And the other usual suspect, colleague Alan Reiter.
Remember: Wi-Fi is a multi-billion-dollar-per-yer business that continues to accelerate. Hot spot service is tens of millions of dollars a year, and it's not going away. So many of the companies investing in hot spots aren't in a position to shut them down now or in the near future. And the hockey stick curve upward is happening -- but whether that adoption curve will be paid for by venues or by users is the real question of the hour.
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A brief article that might freak out companies worldwide, and maybe some individuals, too: The New York Times Magazine ran this brief piece that follows a white-hat security cracker/consultant in checking out the swiss cheese of networks.
Unfortunately, because the guy had such legal qualms, we don't see the real skinny; he only talks about it. Sure, a lot of information passes over unprotected networks, but it's the complementary ability for people to join a network and then attack machines, many of which certainly feature unpatched security flaws that allow the largest disruption.
Nonetheless, the ease by which the fellow extracts passwords and views networks may signal some mainstream alarm.
Meet Veljo Haamer in Manhattan: Although I'm not sweltering back east, and am enjoying odd stormy weather here in Seattle, my Estonian counterpart Veljo Haamer has arranged to come to New York for a week, and I'd like to hook him up. Veljo edits WiFi.ee, a site devoted to the remarkable explosion of Wi-Fi hot spots and networks in that Baltic state.
If you're involved in wireless and would like to meet an interesting and pleasant chap (who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting face to face yet), drop Veljo a line. He's in Manhattan til July 17.
My father's family is all from one town in Lithuania, the next formerly oppressed independent state over, so you could call us near relatives (though my ancestors emigrated from the Fertile Crescent).
Linksys Wireless-B Game Adapter: retro, simple: Gizmodo, source of all that is cool at whose feet we prostrate ourselves, noted that Linksys has put up a page about a new Ethernet bridge. It's not described as supporting multiple machines, and it has the geek cred of appearing more like an old fashioned walkie-talkie than a sleek new networking device.
The adapter has a switch-settable, LED displaying channel selector. With two units, ad hoc mode is enabled just by setting both to the same channel. With other networks, it obviously tries to make a hook-up via DHCP sans WEP; failing that, you need a PC to configure it.
Is this just a WET11 in a new box?
MacStumbler 0.7 available: The latest version adds GPS support for location-based tracking of access points.
This Bloomberg account of AT&T/GRIC deal creates misunderstanding far and wide: This account of the deal by which AT&T will offer GRIC software to its business customers who already buy VPN service AT&T makes it sound like AT&T is building 2,000 hot spots by fourth quarter instead of giving its customers software from GRIC that will allow them to access 2,000 hot spots that GRIC has in its partner network.
Unfortunately, the Bloomberg story has spread far and wide because they're a wire service for business. The first part of the story comes from the press release language (or their spin) in which GRIC attempts to sell the world on the notion that they're something other than they are.
GRIC is an aggregator: they own no infrastructure; they put hardware into ISPs to enable their software to work with those ISPs network and handle authentication.
Later in the story, the writer says, AT&T CEO Dorman said last month that AT&T would pepper the 50 largest U.S. cities with 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots by 2005. In fact, he was talking about Cometa, a joint venture with Intel and IBM, a network on which AT&T will resale access. But its not building out those points; Cometa is.
Michael Schrage wonders if ubiquitous meshing could have a social benefit: I'm sure if I understand the benefits of what he calls Li-Fi (open meshing) or Mi-Fi (Microsoft-based meshing) as opposed to a variety of wireless coverage available at various prices from zero to outrageous.
He talks about creating relays that eventually reach the Net, but the backhaul that he mentions earlier in the article is the problem. Moving data from point A through intermediate points to point I (the Internet) isn't as big a deal as moving data from A to I to another destination on the Internet.
Li-Fi or Mi-Fi both increase latency and limit bandwidth to a subset duplex of the number of meshing devices. Most devices are likely to be in dense places. Those that aren't are likely to be overwhelmed by the traffic that bottlenecks through them.
It's bandwidth and latency that need to be respectively increased and decreased, not interconnectedness on a local wireless network.
Give us bandwidth founts like streetlamps or fire hydrants. [via TechDirt]
A North London pub uses a variety of wireless for pub enjoyment and Net access: It's fun to see the variety of ways in which wireless -- especially combinations of wireless -- can be used for entertainment, and have the flip side of providing straightforward access. The article ably covers a variety of revenue, build-out, and usage statistics.
On the error front, the author conflates access points with hot spots: I would argue that nobody in the industry or most individuals would say that hot spot is a synonym for access point. An AP is an AP: a device. A hot spot is an area of service, which may be served by one or more devices using multiple network flavors.
The reporter also says that warchalking is enthusiasts using chalk signs to let passers-by know where free access was available. That assumes that a) anyone is actually warchalking and b) that it's just about free access, which it never was.
Finally, the article concludes with talking about Open Spectrum and a group lobbying the British regulatory authority to think about it as an alternative to spectrum auctions. But the author says that this view has something to do with Wi-Fi enthusiasts, a group of people I'm not sure who is a member. Open spectrum and unlicensed spectrum are actually two entirely different ideas. Open spectrum removes regulatory authority; unlicensed spectrum is highly regulated, but not at the user end, just on the manufacturer side. Users are required to not modify equipment to violate rules, but they don't need licenses to operate.
The city that made Peter the Great great to add hot spots: By the end of the year, St. Petersburg will have as many as 15 hot spots charging about 35 rubles (or roubles) per half hour, which is about 1 euro or US$1.13.
A blogging seminar brings Wi-Fi to England's House of Commons: For one day only, the House will be lit! (Some of the members may disagree with that statement.) A Web logging seminar will employ Wi-Fi to access the Internet, but the hot spot will be turned off immediately afterwards. However, the organizer (organiser) isn't sure whether it'll actually be able to break through out to the Internet -- thus, 3G is a backup solution.
Everything you needed to know about Wi-Fi Protected Access: Tim Higgins turns in his usual exhaustive report on a wireless topic. This time around, WPA, the newly appearing security standard for securing Wi-Fi networks without risk. The new standards, when deployed on a network, provide something approximating real protection.
California researchers predict big things with no timeline for UWB: Ultrawideband (UWB) has the potential to offer vast bandwidth over long distances with little interference among devices and the ability to cope with all sorts of obstacles. But it's not in the field yet, and the first UWB-based devices using the first FCC approval (30 feet, 100 Mbps) aren't due out potentially til Christmas 2004 in consumer electronics.
Of course, if UWB can prove to have the capabilities in the real world without the problems that critics contend could erupt, then it's a natural physical layer replacement for spread-spectrum.
The report also predicts huge things for Zigbee, a standard designed to facilitate low-power configuration networking among devices. That's low bandwidth remote controls, more or less, that would let equipment coordinate among themselves instead of requiring massive numbers of infrared keypads.
The resort community of Whister finds itself with two network build-outs: Do you know the joke from before when the Chunnel was built? The English and French governments solicit bids. The lowest bidder says he can build it for $45. The governments call in the bidder, and ask him how he plans to do it for that price. "Vell," he says, "I have a shovel, and my brother, he has a shovel, and we'll start digging from opposite ends and meet in the middle." "But what if you don't meet precisely?" "Then you get TWO tunnels for the price of one."
Unfortunately, this joke isn't in wide circulation in Whistler, British Columbia, a ski resort town that I personally adore a few hours north of Seattle in Canada. The town itself is a lovely example of site-appropriate development, and, I've thought on previous trips, a natural for Wi-Fi deployment. The combination of condos, often rented out, and visitors, was high, and I was told there's fiber optic running into the town already.
It turns out that not only are a few companies thinking about it, but both the local cable franchise and the city government have both invested in developing Wi-Fi. The cable company raises a familiar and often hard to refute concern: why should the city take money out of private cofferes? The city, by contrast, says they had no idea the cable company was even working on this. Ah ha, says the cable company, then why not issue a public proposal and seek bids? And so on.
We'll see more of this. Many municipalities have already faced these problems in running out fiber or other backbone services, such as Tacoma and Palo Alto. Their claim: a municipal infrastructure makes the availability of service much higher and ubiquitous than a private company would possibly due based on market forces, thus making the area an improved place to do business. [via TechDirt]
Tomas Krag writes of his trip from Denmark to Vienna with a Tungsten C: Service was available, but annoying to access and use.
USA Today reports that certain in-flight entertainment systems may put passengers at risk: This news is relevant with the expansion of networking services in airplanes, and may be one factor in such an expansion. Frighteningly, the FAA reported that one system cannot be turned off in flight with jeopardizing flight safety, even if the system is malfunctioning.
Intel and Alvarion develop 802.16a (WiMax) chips: I missed this story the other day, but it's significant. This is Intel's first commitment to long-haul networking, which is a critical component of future broadband-outside-wire deployment.
Swedish carrier Telia expands HomeRun roaming to Austria: HomeRun has quietly built up a pan-European roaming network that is a sign of things to come in an EU world. The latest agreement gives HomeRun subscribers access to Metronet, which has 280 locations in Austria. Roaming on Metronet will cost 2.40 Swedish Krona, or about US$0.30, per minute.
HomeRun has its own hot spots at 410 locations in Sweden, and 90 in Finland, Norway, and Denmark, and roaming agreements with British Telecom in the UK and Megabeam in Italy. Users can also freely roam onto Sonera's service in Finland.
Interestingly, the Metronet arrangement relies on the GSM Association's standards for wireless LAN roaming, the press release noted. The GSMA had a breakout meeting of its WLAN roaming group at the 802.11 Planet conference in Boston last month, and carriers are obviously interested in making this kind of fee arrangement and roaming simpler.
In other news, Soylent Green is people: Occasionally here at Wi-Fi Networking News, an errant wormhole opens, and dumps a URL from the future. Often these glimpses of the future are fragmentary, inexplicable, and strange, which leads this reporter to assume that the "many universes" theory of cosmology must be true.
The latest report is from 2008, so many years and twists of chaotic market behavior down the road, that no reasonable analyst would make strong predictions on today's market based on five years' hence. Nonetheless, the report claims that revenue of hot spots in 2008 is $3.1 billion, which some analysts might agree with, and others might rather tear holes in the fabric of space-time to flee into an alternate outcome.
It's clear that the report is not from the future of this particular timeline, because its historical data is incorrect. The story claims that North America currently has precisely 12,400 hot spots, while generally accepted numbers place that range at optimistically in excess at 5,000.
The witty Peter Lewis explains McDonald's...appeal: For years, McDonald's used every trick imaginable to get customers in and out the doors quickly, from harsh lighting to clickety-clack tile floors to uncomfortable plastic chairs and tables. Now it appears to be using the most modern tricks -- like Wi-Fi access -- to try to entice customers to linger in the restaurants and spend more money.
Montreal and Toronto by wireless: A four-month trial will beam Internet access via satellite to moving trains which will redistribute the signal wirelessly. Only select VIA 1 trains will have access, most likely the business class.
Our research indicates that Canadian businesspeople want to use their travel time to catch up on e-mail, work on presentations and do other work-related tasks," says Doug Cooper, general manager of Intel Canada. No, no, I'd rather sit twiddling my thumbs with my shirt buttoned to the top, preferably with some of the pins still in it. At least they know what users want.
AT&T will offer GRIC's VPN/firewall/access software to business customers: I spent the morning puzzling over strange news stories and releases that made it sound like AT&T was deploying hot spots or securing them in some unknown manner. Finally, I happened upon the Dow Jones Newswire coverage which explained it clearly: GRIC's aggregation software will be sold as a secure roaming business solution to AT&T's customers.
This is a giant win for GRIC, of course, as it means access to tens of thousands of prime customers ready for this kind of integration. GRIC, like iPass, uses enterprise-installed server software to manage and monitor connections, and thus its software can be installed in the same network operation centers where AT&T already manages the VPN service it currently sells.
The article notes that AT&T's deal isn't exclusive, so it is possible that iPass or other companies could become alternate providers. But the Wayport deal the writer mentions is tangential: access to Wayport's network via the GoPort service run by AT&T (which is bogarting the Denver International Airport) is pure gateway at the moment: no security overlay without the user providing it themselves.
Chicago may get for-fee McDonald's wireless in August, but two franchised stores are offering it for free now, and incidentally bridging the digital divide: It's an attempt to provide a way to get people in underserved, underinterested communities to take a look at the Internet. [via TechDirt]
Kensington intros WiFi Finder: Small, lightweight, and useful? I don't know the price, I don't know when it ships, but it'll tell you when you're within sensing range of a Wi-Fi network (802.11b or g) using three lights to indicate signal strength. [via Cord Campbell]
Cogent analysis of why WiMax/802.16 may change the economics of hot spots: It's all about the backhaul. Hot spots are fine, but you're still paying for that wired tether, and that can be a huge hunk of the cost of deployment. This column makes the excellent case that the 802.16 set of standards for long-distance point-to-point wireless has avoided weaknesses of 802.11a while including licensed spectrum as an option, making it a natural choice for hot spot backhaul.
Several companies have been working specifically on backhaul as an aspect of their system. Tropos has a mesh system that interconnects hot spot devices, but allows backhaul to be plugged in only at desired locations. RoamAD uses a variety of wireless backhaul to avoid needed wired connections throughout its ubiquitous system design.
Any time you can avoid the wire, you have the potential to drop recurring costs paid to incumbent telcos and to dramatically increase bandwidth without increasing the cost.
Eric Griffith of 802.11 Planet offers full insight into Wi-Fi Alliance's completed 802.11g certification round: The first set of manufacturers form the basis for future testing. This includes Intersil, Texas Instruments, Atheros, and Broadcom.
2.4 GHz band not open for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth in the Phillipines: A news account relatees that the spectrum regulatory body in the Phillipines considers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to be illegal uses of spectrum as the 2.4 GHz range in that country hasn't yet been approved for unlicensed use. A telecom is deploying hot spots under a test license, but the regulatory group says that they can't offer it commercially with that license. [via BoingBoing]
Writer ponders all-you-can-eat CDMA 1x instead of spotty Wi-Fi hot spots: David Berlind wonders whether devoting his money and equipment to CDMA's 1xRTT flavors, which can provide 70-80 Kbps for $80/month unlimited usage (over Verizon Wireless or Sprint PCS) would be better than coping with isolated, non-roaming-agreement-linked Wi-Fi networks for overall use and availability.
This is the most balanced and fair comparison of 1x and Wi-Fi that's appeared to date. Berlind takes the tack that if he could have bandwidth everywhere at a single predictable price, isn't 70 Kbps or a little higher enough? It's a good question, and will be harder to answer when and if 1xEvDO rolls out in San Diego and Washington, DC -- a lot depends on its real-world deployment and use among early adopters, and the pricing model. Verizon Wireless tipped its hand to Berlind with a trial balloon suggesting that $80 might be the price for unlimited EvDO at several hundred kilobits per second.
One quibble: Berlind points out the lack of roaming agreements across major networks, but this has something to do with how much and where you travel. Because of Boingo and their new rates ($22/month 12-month promotional all-you-can-eat rate as of yesterday), you could make a good case for Boingo + a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go prepay ($50 for 300 minutes, or $8.33/hour, minimum 10 minute charges per use). Boingo via Wayport and others has most of the airports; T-Mobile is supposed to open up San Francisco because of their deal there; AT&T's hold on Denver is the only flaw in a Boingo + T-Mobile combo. [via TechDirt]
McDonald's launches San Francisco hot spots today (req. paid reg.): McDonald's revealed at the 802.11 Planet conference on June 27 their plans to expand into SF and Chicago, using two providers other than Cometa to perform a "bake off," as the McDonald's exec put it. Wayport customers and Boingo/iPass/GRIC subscribers will get free access with monthly subscription plans. $4.95 for two hours or free with Big Mac Extra Value Meal for a limited time. Locations of the first 55 stores (out of 75) in the SF area are at McDonald's wireless site. [via TechDirt]
Early press releases from Texas Instruments, Broadcom indicate certification finished: Both TI and Broadcom sent me press releases this morning that their products have achieved Wi-Fi certification for 802.11g. More announcements are sure to follow with more details.
The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies products by actually testing them against a set of compliance guidelines. The Wi-Fi brand now includes 802.11b and 802.11g devices (2.4 GHz) and 802.11a (5 GHz); this fall, it expands to include WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) as a mandatory security measure.
Live, nude polar bears: A Wi-Fi network will allow a combination of research and remote tourism, as a scientist wanders among polar bears in the Great North of Canada.
Linksys posts source for WRT54G as required by license: After Slashdot readers pointed out that the Linksys WRT54G contained code that under the General Public License (GPL) had to be released back to the world, Linksys did so, quietly.
This may have something to do with Cisco's acquisition of Linksys and due diligence. During the process, almost certainly a savvy Cisco lawyer saw the posts about the GPL license and the WRT54G codebase, and said to Linksys that it had to be resolved. Thus it was.
I'm not a Linux-y enough guy to know whether you could take the variety of code provided by Linksys and build a generic Broadcom-based box, or modify the software further to create more capable and interesting firmware. I'm sure BAWUG will have input. [via Slashdot]
Hotel Valencia is wired and unwired to the max, dude: Doorman with card swiper, 100 Mbps (that's bits not bytes) connections, IP phones, Wi-Fi...I'm swooning.
Boingo adjusts prices: I just received email from Boingo, with which I have a pay-as-you-go (Boingo As You Go) plan. They are offering unlimited service for $21.95 per month for a full year, after which a new charge ($39.95 per month) applies.
Boingo is a Wi-Fi service aggregator which has over 1,300 hot spots from dozens of networks, including Wayport. They require special client software to access their partner networks, but the software includes add-ons, such as virtual private network protection and authenticated server-based outbound email service.
This restructuring eliminates Boingo's mid-range plan, which was $24.95 per month for 10 sessions (daylong or hotel-based) with additional sessions $4.95 each instead of the $7.95 pay-as-you-go price.
Boingo now has just As You Go ($7.95 per session, with an introductory package of $7.95 for two sessions to try it out), and Unlimited with the one-year phase in to $39.95, which is $10 less per month than it was just a few short days ago.
Because Boingo includes the entire Wayport network, this ups the ante against its competitors. AT&T's GoPort service, which runs Denver International Airport's Wi-Fi network, charges $69.99/month for unlimited access, which includes Wayport's service. But Wayport users can't use Denver's network under any plan but AT&T's.
Wayport itself now technically charges more for unlimited monthly access to its network than Boingo does to support Wayport and other networks: $29.95/month with one-year commitment, or $49.95 for month-to-month service. I expect that will change promptly.
Boingo is apparently showing its Mac OS X client, although I haven't seen it yet (nor been sworn to secrecy), and I have been hoping it would show up by mid-year.
Boeing's Connexion service given spectrum allocation: Connexion by Boeing, their 1 Mbps up, 20 Mbps phased-array antenna system to broadband to airplanes in flight, was operating previously under experimental rules. With the World Radiocommunication Congress 2003 (WRC-2003) allotting secondary licensed usage in the 14.0-14.5 gigahertz (GHz) range for aeronautical satellite service. This move allows Boeing to offer its service worldwide with more guarantees and flexibility.
Connexion recently signed SAS (Scandinavian Airline System), and, in May, Lufthansa. Both airlines will equip their long-haul trans-Atlantic and other routes with Connexion with 11 and approximately 85 planes, respectively, gaining the service starting in 2004. The timetable has a 2005 completion date, and its unclear whether user adoption will drive faster deployment.
Ken Camp excerpts from his book on IP telephony: Ken responded in part to an article I wrote for The Seattle Times about consumer VoIP by posting a long and interesting excerpt from his book, IP Telephony Demystified.
The availability of a network might reduce...what was I writing? Oh, yes, attention span: Matt Richtel turns in, as usual, a hilarious piece that combines technology and sociology as he paints a picture of the alpha geeks with something approaching attention deficit disorder.
I, too, am a sufferer. With a wireless network around, I'm compelled to check email, send email, write blogs entries, and communicate via instant messaging.
Maybe I should just listen to the presenter?
A useful exercise for those of us afflicted: take a trip without electronic devices and communication. During a week in Costa Rica, a country with abundant Internet cafes, I limited myself to one mid-week 30-minute email check to confirm that all my systems were running and that no emergencies had cropped up in which someone couldn't reach me. It was a lovely experience, and worth repeating.
Gizmodo reports on Ricoh's new camera that can take three networking types: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, of course, but GPS is a neat twist: you can geographically mark where photos are taken. I can imagine a number of scenarios from public safety to family vacations where GPS plus some mapping software would be a neat addition. Talk about remembering where you've been!
Wi-Fi, HomePlug, and HomePNA offer alternatives to drilling holes in the wall for home networking: This short article I wrote for The Seattle Times in the Home and Real Estate section is intended to open up homeowners' (and renters') eyes to ways to add a network without the fuss of Ethernet. I try not to be a Wi-Fi bigot, especially when HomePlug offers simplicity and HomePNA can span greater distances for the same cost -- especially in a home with lots of Wi-Fi-defying obstructions and good phone wiring.
With missing physical infrastructure, voice over IP (VoIP) thrives in Africa despite government opposition: It's an odd battle in which telecom monopolies occasionally use government enforcement to shut down and/or imprison those running VoIP services, whether for their own purposes or as a telecom operation. Still, Wi-Fi makes VoIP more practical by bypassing missing copper infrastructure to create the network over which VoIP runs.
Sony to offer $600 Wi-Fi fileserver with 20 Gb storage (in German): The folks at Computer Woche (Computer Week) report that Sony should be offering a 20 Gb Wi-Fi fileserver with an optional $60 Ethernet cradle, and the ability to support 250 Wi-Fi users. (That is, the ability to feed out 250 NAT-provided addresses, but not necessarily the networking capacity to handle that.)
Oddly, this is clearly Martian territory: the folks at Martian offer the nearly identically featured NetDrive Wireless for $399 (40 Gb) or $479 (120 Gb) as well as in no-drive kit form ($379). Of course, theirs includes Ethernet in the basic model, and offers Rendezvous-based options for Mac users, including iTunes music sharing.
Full disclosure: Martian has sponsored this site twice. [via Lockergnome]
Massachusetts port authority Massport expects $2.5M to unwire Logan International AirPort: Although the article focuses on Wi-Fi, it's almost certain that the "other wireless" is cellular. As Dick Snyder of Concourse Communications noted when speaking on the panel on airports I moderated at 802.11 Planet, port authorities need the whole package handled by a contractor.
The $2.5 million cost estimate might seem high, but it's not very given the square footage and nature of the contract; carpet replacement probably costs more than that a five-year cycle. Most port authorities require union contractors on all jobs, and the costs of security are now much higher, too. Wiring low-voltage Ethernet now requires an electrical contractor in many states. A job like Logan would involve network technicians, electricians, and the trades needed to open up the walls (in places) to put equipment in place.
The Logan contract is a vendor-neutral contact, but also serves the airlines' needs: the proposal involves making the system available to commercial wireless providers and airlines. This means building a logical infrastructure for VLANs, 802.1x, and so forth.
The cost may sound high, but the reality of all public-venue hot spots from now on is that there isn't just the end-user on a laptop: there are many constituencies in every location for which the network becomes a tool. [via David Weinberger/JOHO]
Wi-Fi is on cable operators' radars as a way to increase home use, and provide roaming for users: The article starts out talking about the specific opportunity for cable operators to provide Wi-Fi as a home networking tool (although operators say it's the dominant method used by their subscribers already), but also to extend their reach to users outside the home. Some small operators have already discovered that they can add on a subscription fee for usage at hot spots that allows them to capture more revenue.
Late in the article, Wayport's marketing director notes that Wayport is in "massive deployment mode." No real signs of that yet: I'm wondering when that materializes, as Wayport's node count has been relatively steady for three years.
802.11 Planet conference was prime example of educated users failing to exercise even minimal encryption: AirDefense was the official security sponsor, and they earned out their sponsorship with this article. Martin Levy of RoamAD, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the conference, was visibly shaken by the open Windows shares and the lack of encryption.
It's obvious that the problem here relates to ease of securing a connection not necessarily use sophistication. I don't have a VPN at my office, but I run three chained SSH forwarding tunnels to protect POP, SMTP, and Web transactions. This is a little kludgey, but it's free, secure, and simple once I had it set up.
I've been telling Apple and anyone else who listened that setting up a user interface to allow remote workers without an IT department to securely connect back to a machine using tunneling (not even a full VPN) would be an invaluable tool.
In fact, a Mac OS X software developer could write that program easily with a server and user component. For Windows, it might be trickier, because you'd have to provide SSH or other clients which OS X features built-in, like Linux.
Sanyo demos camera set up to work with Compact Flash Wi-Fi card: This translation is a bit sketchy (via Babelfish), but it makes it clear that you can put a CF card in and beam pictures to a server. A gem from the translated text: The CF card of marketing in the slot of lower part the bamboo grass...being is visible. [via Gizmodo]
India uses corDECT to provide cheap premises equipment for voice, Internet: It what sounds like a variation on a theme that was HomeRF as well, this system could provide substantially lower costs of using fixed wireless to provide data and voice to the final mile--or final 20 miles.
First-hand reporting on the SAS/Connexion by Boeing deal: To report this short brief in today's New York Times, I spoke to Connexion, SAS, and Telia about Scandinavian Airline's decision to install Connexion by Boeing broadband service on its 11 long-haul planes flying to Asia and North America starting in February with all planes equipped by 2005.
SAS's Jens Willumsen, a senior vice president, said that more than three quarters of the passengers on their Copenhagen to New York flight, for instance, carry a laptop, and most of them use it on board for at least some of the flight.
Their surveys and research show that half of these passengers will use the service during the flight, which is where they and Boeing obtained the estimate that one third of passengers on a given flight will use the Connexion service.
Terrance Scott of Connexion by Boeing said, "On an average international flight, you’ll see about a third of the passengers using the service about a third of the time." On a 7-hour flight, that might be two hours of email, intermittently, with sleeping, eating, takeoff and landing, and entertainment occupying the rest of the time.
Scott said, "This is one of the reasons why people have told us in the research they prefer a flat rate, because it takes the time clock out the equation." That's a not-too-subtle dig at Tenzing/Verizon AirFone's JetConnect pricing.
The price for SAS will be $30 to $35 per flight. SAS's 2002 annual report states they flew 1.4 million passengers outside of Europe and Scandinavia, and most of these routes would be covered under the long-haul flights.
With a maximum of 188 to 261 passengers seated in their three long-haul plane models, at $30 per flight and 85 percent occupancy rate noted in their report, that equates to $1,580 to $2,200 in revenue per flight with one-third of passengers using the service, or $13.86 million per year based on 2002 numbers. SAS said in their annual report they expect an increase in passengers on these routes.
Willumsen said, "The main driver for this initiative is that we have strategically decided since our customers are very IT [information technology] alert, they do take on new technology very quickly to support the way they do their business, especially frequent travelers."
SAS introduced paperless, document-free travel systems last year to cover security, check-in, Internet booking, and other aspects, and 50 percent of their Scandinavian customers never use a document. This shows the high adoption rate of Internet use and the sophistication of business travelers.
SAS has had Telia HomeRun Wi-Fi service in its worldwide lounges starting in 1999. They originally partnered with Telia and Tenzing to bring high-speed Internet to their planes, but after the dotcom crash and September 11, Tenzing retooled and SAS retrenched. (Telia itself is in the middle of several-month-long reorganization right now.)
A Telia executive and SAS said that although they were aware of the Boeing arrangement that SAS and Telia both expect Connexion to drive any integration between Telia and the in-flight service. The potential is for a passenger to have seamless, single login, one transaction access from arrival, through a flight, through baggage claim.
Boeing's Scott noted that SAS "will be the first commercial airline in the world who will offer complete wireless connectivity solution." The initial Lufthansa trials only allowed a specific single card, but late in that process "we did receive permission to operate any wireless device on board."
Connexion uses a phased-array antenna pointed at a satellite to deliver up to 1 megabit per second (Mbps) of upload speed and up to 5 Mbps download. The service has the potential to offer four separate 5 Mbps channels on a single plane, for a total of 20 Mbps. "If everyone on board wanted to sign on they could," Scott said.
Connexion differs from the Tenzing offering in providing real-time high-speed Internet access as opposed to proxy service in which an intermediary has to rely and cache data. Tenzing's email service has been variably reported as using existing email clients or requiring a special Web-based client they offer -- even their site has various descriptions -- but it's clear that you cannot directly connect, but rather use an email proxy to send and receive email.
Tenzing's partner Verizon AirFone has United committed to offering JetConnect on all of its planes, a substantial investment, and charge $15.95 per flight to receive and send unlimited emails of up to 2 kilobytes per message. Additional kilobytes are 10 cents each. Average email tends to be longer, and HTML-formatted email substantially longer.
The Tenzing service cannot allow virtual private network connections. Connexion, in contrast, tested VPN software and connections, and is confident that they will be reliable and accessible. Boeing's Scott said, "VPN clients that are installed at various corporations, their networks and their firewalls, they continually ping you: are you there, are you still there….if you’re working off a narrowband service that does periodic updates" the VPN connection cannot be maintained or established.
Lufthansa had committed in May to installing Connexion on 80 long-haul planes--its whole fleet--starting in 2004. Lufthansa is a StarAlliance member along with SAS and several other airlines, including United. SAS relied on the Lufthansa and British Airways tests instead of running them themselves, because Lufthansa uses identical planes and has a similar clientele.
SAS's Willumsen expected other StarAlliance members to follow, as the service would become even more valuable when available among codeshared and connecting flights across several airlines. "We believe that more StarAlliance partners will sign up for this service in the next 6 to 12 months, so you will probably see StarAlliance" as the first alliance with the largest portion of this service, he said. "I’m quite sure this is going to move passengers" from other airlines to those equipped with Connexion.
Willumsen said choosing the service was a matter of deciding what passengers wanted and then providing it, a basic customer service and marketing reality. "In this case, we have chosen technology instead of caviar."
Starbucks head says Wi-Fi helped sales: No quantitative analysis, but a strong statement.
Wi-Fi in Arizona at Starbucks: I have to stop reporting on these, as they'll get ridiculous. But I do like reading local coverage to understand how Starbucks's plans fit into the local area's needs and understanding.
Slashdot asks, is anyone using 802.1X?: An interesting thread that provokes a number of responses from people who have deployed 802.1X or have issues with it.
Tungsten C requires more taps to connect to a hot spot, but it's a good unit (reg. required): The Tungsten C's software for connecting to a Wi-Fi access point or hot spot is surprisingly inept, David Pogue writes, something I can testify to after playing with a unit briefly recently. But it has a lot on the upside, too, in usability, integration with Office applications.
Student wagers $1 to see if someone--anyone!--uses warchalking to find hot spots (second message on page): The researcher writes, I'll bet one
dollar that warchalking is not a meaningful way of locating Wi-Fi
hotspots. To win the bounty, can anyone deliver someone that uses
warchalking to locate Wi-Fi hotspots?
The Wall Street Reporter hosts a Wi-Fi sector conference call July 30: The list of roundtable panelists is up on the site, focusing on investors. Fee is $125, and the one-hour call will include time for audience questions.
SAS signs with Connexion to put broadband in planes: Unlimited service will cost $30 to $35 per flight, in line with Lufthansa's tests, and SAS flies quite a few long-haul flights out of the country. They'll first equip trans-Atlantic and Asian route planes.
During the 802.11 Planet conference last week, I polled various experts and attendees on United's plan to follow the JetDirect route which would cost nearly as much as Connexion while offering email access only through a JetConnect Web-based mail client. (A few reports also indicate that POP might be supported but only through an onboard proxy that makes the connection to your mail server.)
I wondered if I'd missed part of the story in that most corporations won't allow email access except through a VPN tunnel, and, no, all of the people I spoke to said JetConnect wouldn't fly: none of them, their customers, their colleagues, their bosses would be allowed (or even able) to use such a client.
Starbucks adds T-Mobile hot spots to Twin Cities outlets, but free creeps in: You can't see an article on hot spots now in which the option of free commercial (as opposed to free community) wireless creeps in. It's not indie versus Walmart, but it certainly seems as though businesses that compete with those offering Wi-Fi may consider themselves the loyal opposition. If Starbucks was free, perhaps they'd charge?
British cell operator mmO2 will install 1,000 UK hot spots, increase German locations from 30 to 100: mmO2 is one of the few firms to use Excilan pay via cell for hot spot system which allows you to call a number and approve a charge which appears on your cell bill -- no messy credit card entry required.
Xeni Jardin interviews the folks behind the 3rd WWWD: The goal of the wardrive is to collect information and raise awareness. And it sounds fun, too.
Wi-Fi takes kids outdoor to examine nature: Charmingly, handhelds with Wi-Fi are used to pique youngsters interest in technology and combine that with direct natural examination in a wireless wood.
DSL provider Speakeasy Networks offers service that lets users who share their connection to charge their neighbors for it: This is a truly fascinating idea, and one that could win converts. Speakeasy has long allowed and encouraged their subscribers to share their DSL connections as much as they want (as long as they conform to legal use of the connection itself: i.e., no spamming, warez, etc.).
This new move allows DSL subscribers to share the wealth and earn their share: if you have a DSL line, you can set up other users to pay Speakeasy for their service and get 50 percent of the revenue. You set the price. Speakeasy in turn provides email addresses and a variety of services to your downstream customers.
It's an interesting idea as it allows someone to less munificently share a connection with none of the hassle of maintaining accounts.
Some enterprise-oriented wireless chip and device makers are still tentative on 802.11g: It's not that they won't make 802.11g gear, but they're not very anxious about. Symbol, which has a huge amount of 802.11b-and-before infrastructure and devices deployed, has concerns about compatibility and battery life, which makes a lot of sense in their logistics-oriented world. [via TechDirt]
"Bubble trouble - Is the 'Wi-Fi' wireless internet boom about to turn into a bust?" This is the headline and subhead that you didn't mention in your posting on this blog.
"Unless Wi-Fi is added to mobile phones, most people will not carry a Wi-Fi-capable device." I agree completely.
"Gartner predicts that the number of hotspots in retail outlets will peak in 2005, and then decline, as uneconomic hotspots are switched off."
Glenn, are we reading the same article?
"Only 3% of tech-savvy American consumers surveyed said they would pay $2 per hour for Wi-Fi access, but 20% said they would pay $1."
Okay, so Starbucks drops the fee to $1/hr. and usership doubles. That's 4 people per day on average per shop, at fewer shops since the ones that don't service the "road warriors" or others who don't regularly carry around laptops or wi-fi enabled pdas, will be closed.
Understanding economies of scale, you realize when your product/service addresses a very small population, discounting has little effect in generating business. There just aren't more people to utilize the discount and you lose any chance for making even a slight profit. If everyone had wi-fi on his or her cell phone, it's a different story. But what's the point broadband on a mini-browser? The Economist is generally a very reliable publication in my estimation. You gave this story a much different spin. Discounting won't bring this strawman to life.
MuniWireless.com wants to centralize information about wireless networking for municipalities: The creator, Esme Vos, wrote, The aim of the site is to
provide central place for people who are interested in knowing what
cities and towns are doing around the world in the area of Wi-Fi and
Virgin adds in-station access at Manchester, Birmingham train stations: Next, they need to put satellite feeds on the trains -- or 3G cell-to-Wi-Fi bridges.
Sensible advice on Wi-Fi investing: This columnist notes that it's hard to get on the Wi-Fi bandwagon because so many companies are still in the private funding phases. However, he notes that in the future a mutual fund or three might arise that would allow investment with greater ease.
Of course the flip side is that a massive number of the companies funded today won't be around in two to three years, and Cisco, Intel, 3Com, and others will have purchased them (probably before an IPO in this climate) or crushed them. Ah, innovation!
Reports says nearly 72,000 hot spots due this year, double that by 2005: 9.3 million people will use hot spots this year, a fourfold increase over last.
Marriott says 400 hotels unwired in public places, meeting rooms: They're still charging the ungodly rate of $2.95 for 15 minutes and 25 cents a minute after that for Wi-Fi in public areas, but their in-room wired broadband is just $9.95 per night.
Scanty details about SBC and Barnes & Noble's plans to install hot spot service: SBC will build out 2,000 locations (where and what timetable unknown), while Barnes & Noble will test locations in Atlanta and Seattle. Cometa is probably the latter's partner based on a report from Ken Berger a few weeks ago who heard a Cometa exec speak at HP.
Although the report says SBC will roll out to hotels and airports, among other venues, that's a mixed bag. Most of the major hotel brands already have commitments to STSN, Wayport, or one of the in-room interactive box providers. The airports have made plans that haven't all been executed on yet. There's not a lot of space to fill that market in.