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« Free Weekend Wi-Fi for T-Mobile Customers | Main | Piggybacking Neighbors' Networks »

March 3, 2006

Open Thread

We're trying an experiment in participation: Here's an open thread in which to comment on anything Wi-Fi related. Feel free to post. It's moderated (we have too much comment spam and other problems to do otherwise) but anything germane to Wi-Fi will be posted. Enjoy.


any one have comments on webnet cwn, a Converged Wireless Network, planning 125 'footprints' over n. america with high speed internet connection, voip, ip mobile, iptv, ip security, video conferencing, home entertainment. see
it's a franchisor seeking franchises and investors. minimum $5000. already operating in canada.

What's the deal with 802.11n?!?! If it's finally got the green lights and the chipsets have been announced, WHERE ARE THE GOODS???!

We've been suffering too long while the consortium has been arguing back and forth over the spec, ITS TIME TO DELIVER DAMMIT!!!

Being a newbiew to the smartphone wifi,I would like to know if I have to purchase a contract from my cell carrier to use wifi in and around town..Thank you

What kinds of security/ authentication system (if any) are going to be used in the big muni wireless deployments like Philadelphia and San Francisco

[Editor's note: EarthLink, for one, has said they will use the robust 802.1X authentication method with EAP-TTLS. Translated, this means that every user will connect using a special client (called a supplicant) that will use an encrypted channel to provide a username and password. Each logged-in device will be assigned a unique encryption key; no two users will be able to sniff each other's data. Windows XP has 802.1X built in but not the EAP-TTLS flavor. EarthLink will need to make real efforts to have that flavor embedded in client devices (higher-range bridges for indoor use) and distributed to mobile users.--gf]

How does the SF WLAN look to affect existing WLANs? What about the businesses that are in and around SF that already have WiFi? Is this new network going to stomp all over the existing networks? Causing co-channel and adjacent channel interference? Are employees of these networks going to connect to the free network while still connected to the wired ethernet cable of thier company�s network. Possibly opening up a security hole?

Many companies have invested a great deal of time and money into putting up wireless networks in thier offices. This new network may cause a whole host of problems for them. Did Google consult with any of the existing businesses in downtown SF and/or Mountain View as well? Should citizens and businesses have a say in how thier �airspace� is used?

It sounds honorable and good but, well I live here in SF and nobody asked me nor did they put up a votable resolution, They are just doing it. This was proposed years ago for a fraction of the cost it would take to implement now by the BAWUG folks but was dropped. Why?

I still have to pay for Water, Trash, Phone, Streets, Schools etc. Why should I get free wifi? I would rather get free trash pickup, or lower local taxes. (We liberals love taxes ;-)

If Gavin has so much buy-in, or Mountain View as well, then why are so many of the companies in these areas scared to death that thier investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars might have just been for nought. I have personally spoken to several IT people in Mountain View that really do not want Google�s WIFi to tempt thier users to connect to it instead of the encypted and authenticated network that is provided for them.

I also have heard that folks in Philly cannot use thier internal WLAN because the free city WLAN is MUCH LOUDER than thier own (Caps are intended). So now what do they do? The tropos APs that are being considered are 4 Watt transmitters. thats 40x more powerful that a default configured Cisco unit (which comes at 100mw). Additionally, there are only 3 non overlapping channels, so chances are 100% that this network will stomp all over the internal WLANs of Wells Fargo, PG&E, Charles Schwab and whoever else has offices downtown.

Besides, in SF we have around 100 APs per block, residentialy. We have been unwired for years. Heck, every coffee shop in town, of which there are legion, has free wifi. So why do we need all this other wifi drowning everything else out?

[Editor's Note: I'll let other folks reply to the majority of this, but note that Philadelphia residents can't be complaining about their Wi-Fi being drowned out because the network hasn't been built at all. The contracts were just signed. As far as interference: valid questions. In general, if the Tropos or similar mesh devices are used at 1W (effective 4W) maximum power, that still will be very faint when penetrating buildings. Philadelphia will have a 15 sq mi test network built by EarthLink; I believe we'll get some answers then.--gf]

Is there a WiFi certification from an industry association?

[Editor's Note: Yes, Wi-Fi is a trademark owned by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which certifies equipment through rigorous laboratory testing. No device is allowed to bear the Wi-Fi mark if it doesn't pass these tests. About a quarter of all devices fail testing on their first pass through the labs. Wi-Fi incorporates a number of IEEE standards, including 802.11a, b, g, and i, and equipment can state that they comply with those engineering standards without saying they're Wi-Fi devices.--gf]

Wondering what people are thinking about printing over all these hotspots. Don't you want to print out some important document, email, or travel plan when at a hotspot without going through a centralized service like printerOn or printMe? What if we had a peer to peer, authenticated, secure connection? What are the barriers to deploying such a thing?

Apparently, Apple's new intel-based MacBook Pro has a different wireless client from the older models; MBP users report lots of problems connecting to LEAP or PEAP based networks even when older PowerBooks are connecting fine. Some users report that enabling "interference robustness" solves the problem, but others report no benefit. Not good for Apple.

[Editor's Note: I'll check this out. I have a MacBook Pro in hand for testing and a test network running PEAP in my office.--gf]

Wifi comments. I was always wondering the readership of wfnn for advertising purposes. Regarding the MacBook Pro - I wonder if the new OS drivers (for the atheros chipset instead of the broadcom) will be for all models, since there is availability of higher-powered mini-pci radios. Of course, the MacBook Pro would use PCI Express Mini, so that shorts out any possibilities there.

Just tested a MacBook Pro with PEAP authentication; worked like a charm.

Anyone know of a free Radius server that can run on Windows XP Pro? I'd like to use WPA-Enterprise at home, with my desktop acting as the local radius server, but all the versions I've found online don't seem to work for wireless encryption.

Right now I'm using for radius, which works great, but ideally I could run my own radius server at home.

Any suggestions appreciated...

Comments are cool, thanks for doing this. I'd read your blog more often (than once a day) if your colors were something other than white-on-black. Any chance of changing your color scheme or at least adding skins so we can read without eye strain?

[Editor's note: Great idea. I'll get on an alternate color scheme with a cookie-stored preference for that scheme--gf]


I think you may mean a tech cert. Like CWNA, CWSP, CWAP from Planet 3 wireless. Try here:

FreeRADIUS ( is the most common open-source radius package, but it requires a *nix platform. If you have an old desktop laying around, try downloading a Linux installation and see how you like it.

Three MacBook Pros that I've tested thus far do not pass IP traffic using either PEAP or LEAP. They authenticate (seemingly) fine, using PEAP I receive my certs, and Internet Connect shows me as being connected, however they can't receive an address using DHCP or pass traffic given a static. IMHO Apple has not shown solid regression testing in any release of their OSes and the same tune is heard here with their new platform.

Another MacBook Pro report. MBPs currently don't work when connected to our wireless 802.1X network. PowerPC PowerBooks (10.3, 10.4) and Windows laptops (using Secure W32 or Aegis s/w) are fine and the MacBook pro I tested connected fine to a regular (static) WEP encrypted network. The MacBooks authenticate rapidly but never get an IP address. (Always self-assigned - 169.x.x.x.) They get the correct subnet mask assigned. I haven't gone through logs yet because the machine I saw was a student's and I couldn't spend much time with it. We're using TTLS with PAP as the inner authentication. I'll post more as I find it.

U of Iowa reports Apple has acknowledge the problem: