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Om Malik has the scoop on Google's plan as does The San Francisco Chronicle: Google has thrown its hat into the proposed San Francisco city-wide network upping the ante against competing bidders by suggesting access will be free, as will the cost to the city. Om is interested in Google Talk working across an entire city. He also the value of location-targeted advertising. The Wall Street Journal now has the story, too.
Om reports (and the Chronicle does not but the Journal does) that the service will be a mere 300 Kbps ubiquitously. This would suggest perhaps that they're deploying RoamAD's technology via their partner, which Om pegs as the firm WFI. I say RoamAD because it's the only company I know that uses 300 Kbps as their bandwidth hook for ubiquitous service at a minimum.
The New York Times report adds that Google will deploy 802.11g at first, and switch to 802.11n (not expected to be in final form until as late as early 2007).
The SF Chronicle story quotes a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute--which has ties to SBC, Verizon, and The Heartland Institute--that even free is too expensive. Vince Vasquez says, "But even if it's free, it might represent too much involvement by the city in a sector that should left to private industries." That's a paraphrase by the reporters. This probably involves the facilities issue: the city will be involved in setting the network's parameters and offering access to conduit, poles, etc., in a fashion that might not available to any company other than their preferred bidder.
Microsoft's motto was a computer in every home, and, said sotto voce, running Microsoft software. Google's is perhaps a network everywhere, and, quietly, clicking on Google ads.
Forbes believes so: The finalists are EarthLink and HP, which lead consortiums of other players. The writer is a little lazy, giving EarthLink the leg up as an ISP without noting that HP has a massive services business which, among other things, builds enterprise-scale wireless and wired networks. And HP has partnered with Business Information Group (BIG), which itself has a lot of experience in this area.
No company has built a high-speed mesh-based metropolitan-area network of the scale of Philadelphia's, although many smaller networks with more or less area but a much lower predicted user base are deployed.
Tropos, by the way, is a winner regardless of who Wireless Philadelphia chooses: they are the mesh vendor of choice for both HP and EarthLink's plans.
If you're trying to understand the technology, conflicts in UWB and 802.11n, read this article: The folks at Nikkei Electronics Asia have written and illustrated a fantastically exhaustive, well-written explanation of the current state of ultrawideband (UWB) and 802.11n, including the differences between the competing Task Group N proposals. The illustrations finally make clear to me a few intricacies that no amount of talking ever got through: note particularly the closed loop issue that remains a sticking point (as a mandatory feature) between WWiSE and TGn Sync proposals.
Panasonic shows 170 Mbps home-wiring networking module: The company will show off this new technology at the CEATAC exhibition in Japan next week. But how does this relate to HomePlug AV, which will offer 200 Mbps and broad industry backing through the HomePlug Powerline Alliance? No word.
The new Indiana Stadium features Wi-Fi: It's three years away from completion, apparently, but Wi-Fi is part of the attractions, along with paper towels and a favorable gender:restroom ratio skewed correctly towards the fairer sex.
WiMedia Alliance notes Japan's regulatory move, USB advances: It's not enormous news, but it's part of the ongoing process in which the WiMedia Alliance, anchored by Intel, will be releasing their ultrawideband (UWB) systems worldwide to work as physical layer replacements for USB, TCP/IP, and 1394 (FireWire) among other standards.
Japan hasn't approved UWB, but will establish a UWB policy, which is a good step towards allowing it. There are many other countries and international bodies still working on finalizing their approach to UWB's broad use of spectrum at extremely low power.
The work on Wireless USB continues with an interoperability lab announcement and a PCI-based technology approach. The Wireless Host Controller Interface (WHCI) lets software and hardware developers work independently and simultaneously towards a common set of interaction, speeding release.
These announcements came out of the Tokyo Wireless USB Developers Conference at which, ExtremeUWB reports, an association security model draft was produced as well. As with Wi-Fi association, UWB devices will have to agree to talk with each other. Everyone has been hoping the approach is not like the awkward Bluetooth dance (which the Bluetooth SIG is trying to improve, too).
A few months ago, WiMedia competitor Freescale told me that they will have three methods of association: paired adapters, buttons on devices which will initiate association, and, eventually, near-field association. Only the paired adapters involve out-of-band association.
The Wireless USB spec has eschewed all three approaches. They will offer an out-of-band wired USB connection as a one-time association pairing method, and a numeric method similar to Bluetooth's passphrase pairing.
The seven vendors who built test hotzones for Grand Rapids, Mich., all showed they had the right stuff: The local paper reports that the city was very satisfied with the results of their vendor face-off. The next goal is figuring out how to set up a no-taxpayer-dollar network, as is the charter of all new municipal efforts. They're looking at a public/private partnership with a plan ready to bid by December. The town is eyeing local and federal legislation that might restrict their ability to deploy.
The Wi-Fi at Bryant Park has been a mobile feast: First, nycwireless put in service years ago. At some indeterminate point in time, that was taken over by the Public Internet Project, headed by the fellow who wardrove every street in Manhattan. Now Google is sponsoring access with PIP still running the show. Oddly, this was rumored in August 2004, and I never noticed it; has the sign been up all that time? The PIP site hasn't been updated since Fall 2003, and refers to Intel's previous sponsorship of Bryant Park. [link via Russell Shaw]
In this Mobile Pipeline article, I compare three affordable outsourced 802.1X/WPA Enterprise providers: WiTopia's SecureMyFi, BoxedWireless.com, and WSC Guard (now part of McAfee) each have their strengths. WSC Guard is incredibly simple to use and administer, but it's a Windows-only offering. SecureMyWiFi and BoxedWireless offer flexibility by providing full 802.1X support for PEAP (both), EAP-TTLS (SecureMyWiFi) and EAP-TLS with certificate management (BoxedWireless).
Smaller businesses that lack per-user Wi-Fi logins should consider adopting one of these outsourced services if they'd rather not run the server themselves. I wrote some months ago about in-house 802.1X offerings, but even the simpler ones may be too geeky for businesses with zero IT staff.
The company's D-Link Internet Camera with 3G Compatibility produces streams for cell phone viewing: Phones with 3GPP viewers can watch live streams from the remote cameras. The cameras connect via 802.11b or g or Ethernet to a network. The camera also supports regular computer playback. No pricing or availability date were noted.
UnWired: Rural Wireless Conferences runs Nov. 1-2 at U of Georgia, Tifton: The conference will focus on the use of wireless technologies to enhance farm operations and rural life. I was asked to attend, but it's a bit geographically and topically far off from my usual haunts. Still, there's a lot of intrigue in statements like, "representatives from Cattlelog will show how radio frequency identification can help the cattle industry run smoothly and safely."
Software aggregates up to 1,000 nodes; 4.9 GHz gear for public safety and first responders: Any time you start assembling networks with many identical pieces, these pieces need aggregated management. It happened by 2002 in the WLAN space, with several companies offering (and still offering) tools to configure up to thousands of WLAN APs at once.
Firetide now offers their HotView Pro mesh management software for up to 1,000 of their nodes. The software coordinates tasks, like load balancing across different routes, and can treat multiple meshes as a seamless entity for managing data flows.
The 4.9 GHz space in the U.S. has become very active lately, with many companies deciding that the public safety sector interest in wireless needs to be acted upon using existing equipment rejiggered to handle the licensed spectrum. Firetide's HotPort 4.9 GHz equipment will be part of the enormous Rio Rancho, N.M., deployment.
Using the 4.9 GHz public safety band ensures that first responders and public safety officers and workers will have access to unfettered bandwidth--no worries about local Wi-Fi networks or hotzone congestion.
Kodak announces (but doesn't ship) the camera a few days early: The camera, delayed by months, was scooped by two models from Nikon which have Wi-Fi but relatively poor network options. The EasyShare-One takes its place as the third camera shipped (second by brand), but has a much larger scope to its network purview.
The press release says it's the first consumer Wi-Fi camera to ship to retailers, but that's so clearly not the case. Checking the Nikon P1, announced Sept. 1, I see that it's not in stock at any major retailer; the Nikon P2 (the less-expensive, lower megapixel version) is readily available. Kodak says their camera will be available in days to consumers.
The $599 camera includes Kodak's 802.11b Wi-Fi SDIO card; you can see it protruding from the top of the camera in the publicity photo. The first release of this card includes just WEP support. WPA and 802.1X support are due "later," so good luck all you folks with appropriate WPA security enabled in using this camera on your network. On public networks, there's no mention of security, and I'll be curious whether there are FTP or other transfer options involving encryption, and whether the EasyShare Gallery access encrypts your username and password.
The camera is designed to transfer images and video to Kodak's photo service, to view images stored on a PC (over the Internet or a local network, it's unclear), and to view photos and galleries at EasyShare Gallery.
Without the 802.1X module and other authentication support, this camera won't be able to use authentication pages that allow access even to networks that just require one to click Accept for free network policies. Kodak says in the press release that they're working with outdoor venues to support the camera.
Update: The fine folks at Engadget are experiencing the heartbreak of figuring out whether Wi-Fi is included. Their post (with its crossed-out lines and comments) is a pretty good record of how Kodak has mishandled this detail. In Jan. 2005, when this camera was announced, the price was set at $599 plus $99 for an optional (but essential) Wi-Fi card. I heard no more about pricing until yesterday, when Kodak's press release (linked above) noted that the Wi-Fi module was included.
However, as you visit the EasyShare-One pages at Kodak.com, you'll find a variety of statements like "requires optional Wi-Fi card" or "additional options" including Wi-Fi. I'll rely on the press release until I hear otherwise: "EASYSHARE-ONE model (US$599 MSRP, including the KODAK WI-FI® Card)."
Update: Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal finds the camera's Wi-Fi reliability low, and the computer-based software for transferring images required handholding and tweaks that he felt were beyond a reasonable expectation for a normal user. Battery life he rates as poor: one hour when using Wi-Fi, four when viewing stored photos, and 200 shots while taking pictures. Two batteries are included, which is unusual for a digital camera--probably in recognition of this short battery life.
Boingo did a deal last week with Birdstep, this week with Tatara: The company's Wi-Fi aggregation software platform is now available for integration with both of the leading 3G software vendors who produce applications or software kits to allow access to data networks.
Companies like Vodafone license Tatara products to provide to their own customers allowing them seamless access to cell data networks. Integrating Boingo means that Tatara's customers can add Wi-Fi hotspots without licensing separate software and requiring their customers to use two programs for access. (Disclosure: JiWire is one of Tatara's customers.)
JiWire's Wi-Fi toolbar shows the status of networks, security: JiWire released a free Firefox toolbar that promotes their SpotLock VPN service, but also provides a large variety of useful information, including network status and signal strength as well as the security of Web sites (it notes when SSL is active for a given page). It's a hotspot finder using JiWire's directory, and the "i" (info) button shows you a large amount of information about your adapter and the access point to which you're connected.
The toolbar is for Windows Firefox only for now, but JiWire promises versions for Mac Firefox and Safari and Windows IE.
Clayton, N.C., may blanket town: The 12,000-person town considers deploying Wi-Fi for access to less-affluent citizens, and to attract tourists. The town will spend $10,000 to deploy free wireless in a few limited areas this year.
Alexandria, Va., implements first phase of citywide service: Incumbents haven't made a peep in this affluent suburb with its own rich history. Alexandria is focusing on outdoor use, not a replacement for indoor wired services.
Hermiston, Ore., has 700 square miles of Wi-Fi: The service was deployed through cooperation with 30 local governmental agencies who pay for access; it's free for everyone else.
Phoenix, Ariz., wants downtown Wi-Fi: A business group wants 90 square blocks of free Wi-Fi by next fall. The smaller city of Tempe, Ariz., is already ahead on their citywide plans, provoking some obvious boosterism. (And more from the Associated Press.)
Kansas City, Mo.'s CIO makes case for Wi-Fi: The city wants to keep technologic pace with other cities as they build a new downtown arena and entertainment district.
Muniwireless's latest report is out on the scale and composition of the municipal wireless broadband market: This latest report states that $700 million will be spent on muniwireless over the next three years in the U.S., with $400 million spent in 2007 alone. Esme Vos, operator of Muniwireless.com and the organizer of the MuniWireless 2005 conference this week in San Francisco, writes that the growth of networks is irrespective of the size of the town or city. As is often overlooked, public safety operations remain the number one application for these networks, despite the focus on public-access broadband for free or fee.
The report is $495 with discounts for municipalities.
Okay, it's ironic that I'm being cited in a Heartland Institute article: The article, written by a research director at the Pacific Research Institute, criticizes San Francisco's broad, possibly somewhat unnecessary efforts at building citywide Wi-Fi. PRI is based in San Francisco. The article has some problems in the details, and I've written the author. I wasn't misquoted, but I'd rein in the scope as I was referring specifically to the problem of achieving all parameters, not building the network at all. SF will be hard-pressed to not pay its winning bidder a cent but require service cheaper than comparable offerings.
However, I, too, am scared at a "Wi-Fi or bust" mentality that SF has demonstrated time and again. Other cities with arms'-length plans--like Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis--may have some issues with essentially franchising a private provider, but they also will spend not a dime and aren't dictating monthly subscriber rates while having a longer chunk of time to consider bidders who will have longer to build a network. (Portland wants some free-for-short-periods-of-time or bandwidth-limited-free access, but it's not the point of the network.)
I've spent way too much time on this subject matter--detractors and supporters of municipal networks, which often goes far beyond Wi-Fi and broadband wireless--taking apart reports like this, and there are some elements of this one that I'd praise. Instead, I'll post reader comments (follow the link below) and link to other sites that comment on this.
But I can't just be quoted in a Heartland Institute article and not, you know, comment on (and honestly enjoy) the irony. Hard to call me 100-percent one-sided biased know-nothing if I'm quoted by one side of this debate's principal ideological organization. ('Course I'm not either pro- or anti-muni.)
Off the beaten path and off the wireless revolution: The New York Times writes about how people's pursuit of a little peace and quiet might bring them too much quiet. No cell phone service unless they contort themselves, and no wired broadband Internet. Newer gated and resort communities are factoring in the cost of bringing out high-speed service--without it, they're not a sell.
The article mentions several projects close to my interest, including Wi-Ran, the rolling WLAN installed on Hampton Jitneys that I wrote about for the Times a year ago July (it's about fully installed on buses now); Fire Island Wireless, a tireless effort by Wi-Ran and CEDX's Craig Plunkett to bring one element of the 21st century to that not so distant place; and Nantucket's WiBlast, pushing broadband wireless across Melville's old stomping grounds.
There's an argument that comes up whenever one discusses bringing broadband to places people go to escape: isn't the whole point of escaping disconnecting? It's true. But there's another part of this, which is that smaller communities are more likely to thrive these days when people can remain connected to the rest of the world while they're there. Many communities further and further afield from urban centers--so-called exurbs or even pure small town--have better economies because of telecommuters or small businesses that don't need to be in the middle of it all.
Cleveland Heights wants fiber details: The network was built as a condition of the cable franchise, and the city might use eminent domain to seize the fiber from Adelphia if the cable giant doesn't turn over information about it for planning purposes. The city would prefer to lease or rent access for access for city workers that will also be available to those living or working near public buildings, according to the article.
OneCleveland already offers extensive hotspot service in connection with Case Western University, which opened up its entire campus and nearby wireless access to guests by separating university traffic from public traffic using a virtual network (VLAN). The city's proposal would tie in with the OneCleveland non-profit, which wants to bring broadband to public and nonprofit institutions in northeast Ohio.
A couple of days ago, Dell said it would bundle Verizon Wireless EVDO as an integral card in some high-end laptops: Today's announcement says that Dell will also integrate HSDPA. See our coverage of this at celldata.wifinetnews.com for the full details.
The UMTS-based service is designed for high-speed trains with cellular connections: The service, much like other rail offerings, puts Wi-Fi in carriages, and offloads Internet access via a cellular up-/downlink, in this case over UMTS. IPWireless says they surpassed one Mbps at 220 kilometers per hour; they expect 400 kph is an effective top limit.
Ah, to live anywhere near a country in which trains regularly travel at 220 kph, even!
Sacramento picks hotzone wireless vendor: NeoReach will unwire downtown, Old Town, and midtown, covering 10 square miles with Wi-Fi service that will available for free for short periods along with paid options. The service will have government and city information in a walled garden for free access.
Zyxel's Wi-Fi detector shows all info at a glance, works as 802.11a/b/g USB 2.0 adapter to boot: At $99, it had better do more than one thing and do it well, and it does. The Zyxel AG-225H (Wi-Fi Finder and USB Adapter) outshines the Canary Wireless and Hawking Technologies detectors by a long shot. All the information you need is neatly presented in a single compact screen. Its adapter software works quite well, too. With the Zyxel finder, you could actually make informed decisions about nearby networks before powering up a computer. Follow the link for my review over at Mobile Pipeline.
I disagree with their projection: Why? Because hotspots will be so broad that they'll blend into large hotzones. This is one of those "if it succeeds, it really succeeds; if it fails, it shrinks" propositions. If Wi-Fi holds its own against mobile WiMax and 3G cellular data as those develop or deploy, then Wi-Fi increasingly becomes a cloud of coverage across areas of interest, such as the many municipal networks being planned and built.
200,000 hotspots would mean 200,000 unique locations: perhaps when you add up hotels, airports, and chain and independent stores, you reach those numbers. But I suspect the future will shake out into more clouds than points.
Perhaps more interestingly, In-Stat estimates nearly a billion in revenue from hotspots this year and $3.5 in 2009. This must include wired hotel rooms, as those continue to provide the bulk of connection sessions for hotspot operators who provide wired and wireless hotel access.
Akron drops $1.95 per hour charge: The airport in Akron has decided that free is better than fee as a competitive advantage against other regional airports. They're working on a big expansion of their terminal.
If you're using a Google Wi-Fi hotspot in SF, you can download Google Secure Access: It's a free VPN with no details about method (probably SSL) or encryption method (one hopes at least 128-bit Blowfish, but maybe more). Probably not. It looks like Google, for now, is offering this service for download only over its own free Wi-Fi networks, but it might work elsewhere, they suggest. This download-at-hotspot requirement limits distribution because one assumes you have to set up a VPN account or use your Google login. (You can try to download it from this location, too.)
This fuels interest that they'll sponsor or build much more free Wi-Fi--tied in with their fiber optic last-mile postulated plans. I still don't see how free Wi-Fi helps their business model. A tiny bit more Internet access would only provide a tiny bit more ad revenue.
I've exchanged email all morning with a colleague that thinks this spells death to HotSpotVPN, Public VPN, JiWire's SpotLock, and WiTopia's personalVPN. My reaction? This could create a lot more awareness about VPNs, a good thing, and not everyone will want to use Google's service. They're unlikely to provide phone support or fast tech support response, a must when someone's on the road and can't gain access via the VPN. They don't (yet) offer a variety of encryption types or tell us what they're using. Their choice of VPN transport might not appeal to all users.
A call into Google PR to obtain my own personal "no comment" hasn't been returned yet.
Update: Several folks have mailed to point out that this isn't SSL VPN, but it's PPTP, which is the weakest of the three widely used tunneling encryption methods. Further, it allows CHAP, MS-CHAP, and MS-CHAPv2. Both CHAP and MS-CHAP have well-known cracks that can be accomplished through readily available free software. MS-CHAPv2 is better, but the software isn't set up to require it.
A poorly chosen PPTP password can be cracked, too, even with MS-CHAPv2, which is a reason that SSL and IPsec-over-L2TP have been emphasized lately. Even HotSpotVPN.com, which originally offered just PPTP tunnels, enforced strong password selection by assigning a strong password. (HotSpotVPN now offers a variety of strong encryption with an SSL VPN as their main "rental" service.)
Portland, Oregon, is seeing interest by bidders in plan to cover city with Wi-Fi service: Favor will be found with vendors who can incorporate limited no-cost access either by time or day or through a low-speed throttle. The proposal involves no city funds, much like Minneapolis's plan. The goal is to have downtown online by mid-2006 and the rest of the city by 2008. The city will guarantee certain kinds of business to the winning bidder.
This plan has generated virtually no organized opposition by competitive carriers possibly because the city lacks an intermediary such as in Philadelphia's situation. In Philadelphia, opponents claim that the non-profit that will deal with raising funds and operating the network through a contractor has no experience and will fail leaving taxpayers holding the bill. In Portland's situation, with no intermediate organization to which it will be committed, a private contractor failing to meet the goal would result in that contractor being replaced. And it's hard to argue that EarthLink or Qwest lacks the technical expertise to build or run such a network.
The Personal Telco Project has some objections as it's worried about interference with its existing community wireless footprint. This seems quite ridiculous as the Portland service will be primarily outside (and require bridges for inside use), and Personal Telco is unwiring mostly inside with a few outdoor venues. Channel selection and other factors should really make this issue moot. Nigel Ballard, a long-time member of Personal Telco, recently left the organization (where he volunteered) and his full-time day job to join Intel, which is a big backer of the plan happening in its own background.
The Personal Telco spokesperson said in the article, "It's like two cars driving on the same lane at the same time." That's a fundamental misrepresentation of Wi-Fi even through oversimplification. Rather, even when multiple access points are using the same channels in very close proximity--which will likely not be the case in Portland's rollout--it's more like a highway with many lanes and occasional congestion. The farther apart same-channel access points are placed, or the more directionally different their antenna radiation pattern, the less congested the highway.
It's like Kerbango all over again, except it's going to ship and it works: The Roku unit reminds me very much of the ill-fated Motorola Kerbango, which never saw the light of day. (I've seen a production unit, but one of the rare ones in the wild.) The SoundBridge Radio is an Internet radio tuner with dozens of presets that can play thousands of radio stations, and which works over Wi-Fi only using 802.11b.
The radio can be used without a computer nearby, but you can also stream music from a Mac or PC using a variety of software and services, including iTunes (AAC or MP3, but non-DRM files only), Rhapsody, Windows Media Connect, Napster, or Musicmatch.
The SoundBridge Radio tunes AM/FM in addition to Internet radio, and can play music back (unprotected files only until a future software update) via Secure Digital (SDIO) cards inserted into a slot. It has built-in speakers, including a subwoofer. For those who want a $399 Internet radio on their bedside, the Roku device has a clock and alarm. The time is updated over the Internet.
Two massive lacunae in its Wi-Fi choices, though, especially sad for its price tag. No WPA support, and it's 802.11b-based. The Philips chip they use supports WPA, but the software isn't finalized for WPA support yet; it may still make it into its November release. The 802.11b choice is more complicated as for the kind of architecture they're using, they have only 802.11b options; it was a forced choice. On a busy network, adding a very high-use streaming 802.11b device is likely to reduce normal 802.11g network's throughput by double digit percentages, although proprietary extensions from some companies help mitigate 802.11b speed bumps for 802.11g clients.
It ships in November, and they're offering $50 off for orders placed before Oct. 31; they won't charge your card until it ships.
Concourse expands coverage from Terminals 8 and 9 to Terminal 1 at JFK: The new Wi-Fi service starts up on Oct. 1. Concourse covers Newark and LaGuardia quite extensively, and there are a variety of reasons--none of them publicly available that I'm aware of--that have kept the firm from unwiring all the JFK terminals. JetBlue runs its own service from its gates there.
Atlanta, by the way, will finally have its long-awaited Wi-Fi service across nearly 4 million square feet by Oct. 1: As previously reported, it appears that an original plan to unwire Atlanta has gone by the wayside and a new contractor is responsible for this massive Wi-Fi installation.
The article erroneously states--using an attributed comment from an airport official--that the vendor-neutral service it provides is first among major airports. Concourse, Wayport, and other operators offer host-neutral deployments to their partners. Even major airports, like Denver, that used to be host-dependent--you had to pay AT&T Wireless--now have several partnerships for lower-cost access using an existing Wi-Fi or cellular account.
The company is working with Spansion, a flash memory maker, to stack Wi-Fi components: The new approach of stacking components vertically could allow Wi-Fi to be a layer in a package containing memory, reducing power and space needs. Spansion is a venture of AMD and Fujitsu.
Canon showed off what Wi-Fi in its cameras will look like, someday: Canon will have Wi-Fi-equipped PowerShot cameras and PictBridge adapters for its printers. The cameras will use normal Wi-Fi networks. Remote control software will allow a computer to control the camera via Wi-Fi. The person writing up this account said Canon was resistant to offering any hints about when Wi-Fi might ship in this form.
Concourse will install Wi-Fi at O'Hare and Midway in Chicago: The folks who put Wi-Fi in Minneapolis-St. Paul, LaGuardia, JFK, and Detroit have finally secured the contract for their home turf, where the company is headquartered. Service will be $6.95 per day. These airports will be part of the roaming deals Concourse has put together with all major aggregators and operators.
The article also mentions the local political picture, including an investigation that reportedly involves a Concourse employee.
Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security and Take Control of Your AirPort Network released: I co-wrote the former, Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security, which offers extensive, hands-on, step-by-step coverage and detailed explanations of how to set up Wi-Fi security for home and small office networks for Mac and Windows. This is version 1.0 of this ebook ($10, downloadable, 161 pages), but it's an adaptation with extensive revision and new material of a section of The Wireless Networking Starter Kit. The book covers WEP weakness, WPA and WPA2, using 802.1X, and a host of other security issues. It's appropriate for someone setting up a small home network, but has sections devoted to networks ranging from about 5 to 50 users.
This is version 1.0 of this particular book, but it's adapted from two editions of The Wireless Networking Starter Kit, co-written by Adam Engst and myself. That book is now out of date, and that prompted us to release this part, extensively revised and with piles of new material.
Take Control of Your AirPort Network, written by yours truly, is now at version 1.2 ($10, 155 pages, downloadable), updated to cover Tiger, and re-organized from its previous release. It's targeted at Mac users who may be using AirPort equipment or other popular gear, and explains how to connect Mac OS 9, X, and Windows XP systems to AirPort networks, and how to create the most suitable network settings for a Mac.
Both books have large downloadable excerpts so you can see if you like our style, approach, and depth before purchasing.
The two books together may be purchased for $17.50. It's a delight to write ebooks because it's a simple matter to add material and release updates over time. So far, the AirPort book has had several minor and two major updates, but purchasers of the 1.0 edition have received each update at no cost.
The Philadelphia City Council grills Dianah Neff on Wireless Philadelphia (reg. req.; get login at Bugmenot): Let's keep in mind that some council members are opponents of the mayor; some are interested in his office. Issues were raised about whether the projections of revenue and expense will turn out to be accurate.
The issue of cheap DSL raised its head, as it has since prices plummeted in light of the wireless plan. Verizon is now offering DSL for as little as $15 per month for a full year. Neff pointed out, this article says, that these plans require long-term commitments and have no price guarantees after the initial period. Further, this $15 per month plan is 768 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up, according to Verizon's Web site. The Philly project wants 1 Mbps in each direction as basic service; that might be why access point estimates jumped from 1,000-2,000 up to 3,000.
Comcast has been briefing the council, and a public statement said the company fears the city will be putting taxpayers at risk. Yeah, right. I keep seeing these statements, and I keep asking: when did it become the business of companies that are offering competitive services to municipalities to be "concerned" about taxpayers? They're not. These companies exist to pull as much profit out of a given service as possible. That's the nature of a publicly owned and traded firm, right? So this pretense of public mindedness is total crap--or they're betraying their executives and shareholders. Drop the pretense and just say that you can't compete with municipally funded or franchised broadband, and argue the merits of that point in the marketplace.
A local firm, Closed Networks, says they serve 50 square miles of Philly already with wireless broadband offered at prices starting at $50 per month. But that's grossly not specifically correct. At their site, you can see that you have to have a specific site survey and commit to one or two years of service. There's a $50 setup fee for a one-year commitment, waived for a two-year commitment. Their site doesn't describe what you get in terms of speed for $20 per month, although it seems like you get whatever the fastest speed they can reach you with above some minimum Kbps. The site notes frankly that apartment buildings might be an issue because the landlord has to agree to allow antennas.
The Wireless Philadelphia plan differs from this offering by using a mesh instead of a point-to-multipoint approach. It also aims to provide full coverage from the get-go: interior access will require a CPE bridge, but the idea is no external antennas. Because it's a digital divide proposal, housing projects and apartment buildings are absolutely part of the target market, and will have to receive coverage. Because they can use utility poles and access, it'll be easier to beam Wi-Fi at a building instead of having to receive and redistribute it.
The press release avoids the word "hack," but Sputnik isn't working with Linksys, just its routers: The Linksys WRT54G is one of the bestselling routers in the world, and its firmware uses software that comes with a variety of open-source and free software licensing requirements for publishing changes. Thus, there are many projects which hack the Linksys, turning its inexpensive hardware into powerful components of larger systems, like mesh networks. (Switched WLAN is more difficult as Linksys uses Broadcom chips, which do not have open-source but only binary distributions.)
By using a commodity AP, which has always been Sputnik's plan, they allow powerful centralized network management and monitoring through their applications, and that's where they insert value and extract revenue. The AP cost becomes so low that's its efficient to deploy more of them since management time and expense doesn't grow per AP.
Sputnik's Agent software works on the Linksys WRT54G and WRT54GS. Read the press release.
Airgo announced its next-generation MIMO chips today: Airgo's newest entry in the MIMO field will hit 240 Mbps of raw throughput when communicating among identical devices. The new chips are backwards compatible with 802.11a, b, and g, and previous Airgo-based devices.
Read the rest of the story at MIMO+N News.
Five buses now, 50 in the future, have Wi-Fi in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: The city is using a combination of Motorola and Trapeze Software technology to provide continuous access--no cellular service is mentioned. Riders can use Wi-Fi, while the buses also stream video from surveillance cameras.
Central Park unplugged: Wi-Fi Salon has the concession to install free Wi-Fi in New York City parks. The New York Daily News writes that 10 parks will be unwired, including Central Park. Early reports discussed 46 or 64 Mbps (accounts varied) of backhaul into Central Park; this account talks just about limited hotspots within the park. The service is expected to be online by mid-October; earlier reports had said July.
The China National Telecommunication Metrology Station can certify Wi-Fi devices: This is the first outpost in China, and it's a big step especially after the Wi-Fi Alliance took a relatively negative stance on China's attempt to require its proprietary WAPI protocol for all domestically sold devices.
GoRemote puts T-Mobile HotSpot into its global network: GoRemote offers aggregated resale of dial-up, wired, and Wi-Fi access to its corporate partners and resellers on a metered basis. T-Mobile HotSpot's 6,000 locations bolster their worldwide access point count to over 30,000, the company says.
iPass struck such a deal with T-Mobile back in Dec. 2003.
Kissimmee, I'm Wi-Fi'd: The utility authority in Kissimmee has launched a downtown hotzone initially covering a square mile; by next summer, it will be twice as big in area, hitting about 80 percent of downtown. The northern end of a nearby lake will also have service. The hotzone is free.
The King County Metro Transit tries out Wi-Fi on a few routes: Using the locally made Junxion Box, which relays data between a Wi-Fi gateway and a 2.5G or 3G cellular network, Metro Transit will equip all buses along two long routes with Internet access--29 buses in all by mid-October. The service will be free during trials which will last five months and run on a route from south Seattle to north Seattle and another between the university neighborhood and Federal Way, a southern suburb.
Sound Transit, a larger regional transit authority working on a light-rail system and other commuter projects, plans to experiment with a Redmond (Microsoft/Nintendo HQ) and Seattle route with five buses equipped.
One of the routes, the number 48, stops within three blocks of my house and has run directly to my two previous offices, so you can imagine I'll be doing live trials. Both routes pass the University of Washington. The 48 is insanely crowded during morning commute, and I imagine someone with small hands and a PDA could use the service then.
Metro Transit has a variety of interesting online tools that tie in neatly with this project. They have a Java-based bus tracker (see figure upper right) which lets you see the current location of any bus in the system using their transponders. Their trip planner is also handy. If I were a frequent commuter with a handheld Wi-Fi-equipped device, I think I'd love to use it to help figure out the commute while underway.
Some Metro and Sound Transit routes are quite long and spend most of their time on their freeway, making it a more natural fit for working while commuting during time that's between down time and useful time. This is the argument for much of the commuter-Fi that I first wrote about last summer for The New York Times focusing on buses, boats, and planes.
Do you know what Wi-Fi is working in and around New Orleans? Post comments below if you do. Folks are asking about what's available for reporters and regular citizens. Links to stories that list this information are welcome as well.
Update: See comments below for several networks and locations. And McDonald's Wi-Fi-equipped restaurant in the area are apparently also offering free Wi-Fi. Other companies are helping, too, including iPass.
Update Sept. 15: Pronto Networks is working with SkyTel (an MCI subsidiary) and Tropos Networks to add free Wi-Fi in New Orleans, Biloxi, Baton Rouge, and associated airports.
A Gartner report suggests the majority of business travelers remain unware of and uninterested in ground, air Wi-Fi: The press release for this report doesn't offer historical information, so the fact that 25 percent of US and 17 percent of UK travelers (in a sample of 2,000) said they're using Wi-Fi on the road seems quite high to me. All the numbers from the hotspot industry show usage growing at a remarkable pace over the last year.
The report summary seems to mix up answers about in-flight usage and on-the-ground use, and airport terminal versus other use. It's a little hard to figure out what questions were asked from how they wrote this up.
Essentially, they're identifying a huge additional market potential, not a dearth of growth.
Silex Technology America shows USB 2.0 server with Wi-Fi network connection: The idea is that you could share USB 1.x and 2.0 devices over a Wi-Fi network such as printers, hard drives, and scanners. The press release mentions 802.11g and not Wi-Fi, so it's likely not certified (yet). The suggested price is $149, and it features WEP and WPA Personal support for Windows XP and 2000. It's available now.
Keyspan released an Ethernet-based USB 2.0 sharing peripheral in April 2004 for $130 which it says is Wi-Fi compatible, but would require a bridge of some kind.
Brief report from Sascha Meinrath of CU Wireless: "As of a few minutes ago I got the go-ahead for deploying Community Wireless folks within the New Orleans area. We've secured a base of operations and are working with Part-15 to get FEMA approval to operate in the emergency area. We've got people heading down starting tomorrow, so if you are interested in being part of this team, drop me an e-mail. Prometheus radio has received dispensation to set up an emergency LPFM station in New Orleans, so we're interested in anyone who would like to help with that. Finally, in addition to people and equipment, we're also going to need donations to help support the on-the-ground Community Wireless team." Their Web site has an ongoing blog.
Donate to wireless team:
Part-15.org is mounting an enormous effort and is looking for donations and volunteers. Anyone in the wireless industry should contact them if you want to help.
Of course, the Red Cross and other organizations are raising money like mad to help feed, clothe, and temporarily house 100,000s of people--and later help in more permanent ways. My wife and I have contributed a (for us) significant amount to the Red Cross. But there's a lot to be said for giving money to help bring wireless service and FM radio to New Orleans to allow communications. I want to see people fed and safe first, but part of bringing order is bringing contact.
In related news, most of the cellular operators report a significant restoration of their networks in and around the disaster areas as they've been able to restart generators and repair equipment.
Kodak's Wi-Fi SDIO card enables camera, printer docks: The $99 card was introduced as part of the overall EasyShare announcements yesterday, and I overlooked it. And, yes, it supports WPA.
The Wi-Fi card will be part of next month's expected EasyShare One camera, but the card also works as an add-on for two of the new printer docks Kodak announced yesterday. One of the docks also includes Bluetooth 1.1 as a built-in feature; it's optional for the other.
The Wi-Fi Networking News sites have been slightly redesigned: Most of you won't notice any difference, or very little, but we've redesigned our six sites to make them more compliant to Web standards. For the not-so-technically minded, one advantage of our new design is that you can print any page from browsers that support CSS styles for printing. (Try it and preview the results.)
Another advantage is that this site should work much better in portable and mobile devices, as well as display on older browsers with fewer problems. Browsers released in the last three to five years should display this site nearly as we intend. (If you see something strange, hit reload or empty your browser cache: the CSS file is named the same.)
I should also note that the various news services like Google News that appear to scrape our site instead of using an RSS feed to determine new stories now produce the correct results for what's new! Our RSS feeds continue available and unchanged from before, as well as the email lists you can subscribe to at upper left.
We've also moved the navigation among the six sites that comprise our various efforts at covering wireless data news to buttons at the top of the page below our nameplate and banner ad. Previously, we used a sidebar that contained brief snippets from the other sites, but we haven't found that people are clicking through.
Senior editor Nancy Gohring moves to IDG News Service: I bid a fond farewell to these Web pages today to Nancy Gohring, who has been the senior editor of Wi-Fi Networking News for two years, and the driving force behind WiMax Networking News and WNN Europe, as well as the three other subject-specific sites we added early this year. Nancy moved to Dublin, Ireland, around New Year with her husband when he successfully received a transfer to the European offices of his firm.
Nancy was on contract here at WNN, and I can tell you as a current freelancer, that the freelancing life has its ups and downs--and is trickier when you're six to nine hours later than the market you've been covering for a decade. Nancy's new job as one of the IDG News Service's European correspondents will allow her a greater scope of coverage and travel in her current time zone. I'll be linking regularly to her stories from our sites. (For instance, here's her first article about Kent's new broadband wireless via Telabria.)
From all of us here at WNN--that's just me, now--our best to Nancy in her new job.
T-Mobile HotSpot has been coy in the past about what they charged: Email from the company today to hotspot subscribers points to a page that fully lays out what you pay when you connect to each of their partners.
T-Mobile Europe is a whopping 18 cents per minute or over $10 an hour, in contrast to T-Mobile USA's $6.00 per hour pay-as-you-go rate. It's also odd because T-Mobile UK, for instance, charges just £5.00 per hour, which is about US$9.00.
Domestic US airports are a better deal, though, as T-Mobile has a negotiated rate of $4.99 per day (per location) with its three airport partners (Concourse, Cingular, and Opti-Fi), which is several dollars less than the walk-up price for single day sessions.
An interesting piece on the opinion page on Philadelphia's municipal plan and Verizon's response: Andy Kessler rightly points out some of the odd parts of the battle between incumbent and municipalities. Slow moving, old school incumbents are trying to push status quo (or even status quo ante), while municipalities appear to be on top of their game, and talking trash.
Philly not entirely quietly hopes that in bridging the digital divide, they also shave millions off their yearly telco bill, taking that money right out of Verizon's pockets and putting it in the hands of the non-profit Wireless Philadelphia. (Another odd point: if Verizon had decided to bid on the network and won, the money would be taken out of one Verizon hand and placed--in smaller quantities--into another.)
Kessler also notes an oft-underreported item: that cities own lots of valuable territory that can be used for infrastructure, like building tops and poles--and has the recently ridiculously increased power of eminent domain. (You have to believe that the Supreme Court acted strangely when the entire political spectrum decries a property-rights decision.)
AOL won the bid for Madison, Wisc., Wi-Fi, along with other county offerings: The company abruptly pulled out of the negotiations for the contract citing a national change in focus. This leaves the city and planners almost high and dry, but a fair amount of work in surveying and drafting contracts can be salvaged. AOL didn't explain their actions or timing to the article's reporter.
Telecommunications' firms are stepping up to the plate to help: I know there are many more stories about free cell phones and other offers of help, but I've only heard two about Wi-Fi. SBC will install Wi-Fi service in the Astrodome to aid public safety workers and media. (They're also making 1,000 phones available.)
T-Mobile HotSpot has extended its free usage to Sept. 9 in areas affected in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi that still have power and other services. SBC is also offering free FreedomLink usage in affected areas.
Vermont rest stops are unwired: The Williston area rest stops have free traveler information on their Wi-Fi networks, and $4.95 per hour Internet access. The service had failed due to a downed wire when the article was written, but the reporter gave them the benefit of the doubt that it works. More rest steps will be given networks.
Nikon's Coolpix P1 ($550) and P2 ($400) transfer photos over Wi-Fi to computer, printer: These aren't generic Wi-Fi-equipped consumer cameras, but they do use Wi-Fi (802.11b/g flavors) as a method of transferring images as they're taken or in batch mode by date. These cameras can't upload via FTP or Web sites, or access the Internet; rather, they use Wi-Fi (ad hoc or gateway) as a way to connect remotely to a computer running its Windows or Mac OS X software. (The P1 has 8 megapixels; the P2, 5.1 MP.)
The New York Times's computer columnist David Pogue generally praises the camera and the software, but rightly beats up on Nikon for its complexity in setting up a network connection--a huge package involving a multi-step installation process with a USB cable--and the limitations they've built in. Bluetooth, frankly, would almost have been a better choice for the way that Nikon restricts Wi-Fi, except for throughput.
Pogue calls this the first wireless camera; he's right, technically, but Nikon offers a Wi-Fi adapter for their multi-thousand-dollar D2H and D2X. I wrote in passing about the D2H as part of a piece on wireless photography in May 2004 for The New York TImes. The D2H allowed Wi-Fi transmission; the D2X added remote control over Wi-Fi.
Pogue also notes that Kodak's EasyShare One is due out in another month, after several delays, but will feature a more robust Wi-Fi. The EasyShare One requires a Wi-Fi adapter like the high-end Nikon cameras--an SDIO card--but this is apparently part of the $600 cost for the 4 MP camera.
What Pogue doesn't mention, and I haven't seen noted elsewhere, is Kodak's specs for the EasyShare One state it's using 802.11b--not Wi-Fi, not 802.11g. On the other hand, my understanding of its software is that you can connect to any arbitrary Wi-Fi network, including using 802.1X at T-Mobile locations (with a later firmware upgrade), and transfer photos in a variety of ways. We'll see if that turns out to be true in the shipping version in a few weeks.