Mike Rogoway has been bulldogging the MetroFi network in Portland, Ore., for the city's newspaper: Rogoway isn't giving MetroFi a hard time, but he's keeping constant scrutiny on developments and performance. He tested out the Ruckus MetroFlex, a Wi-Fi bridge designed for this kind of market, that can connect to a larger network and rebroadcast at lower power as a virtual local network. It's a neat idea, and the price is just $99.
Rogoway found that in areas he's had trouble obtaining reception from the current MetroFi footprint that Ruckus can make a big difference, but not only. Ruckus's PR guy David Callisch, always amusing and frank (a hallmark of Ruckus), tells Rogoway that using Wi-Fi in this manner is "having a conversation across a soccer field." Callisch is quoted saying, "If it's very quiet, I'll be able to hear you on the other side of the soccer field. If there's noise, I can't. It's the same with Wi-Fi."
I've often compared how so-called interference affects Wi-Fi to a number of conversations happening among different groups of people in a room that echoes. Some people speak softly or unclearly, others are yelling and crisp. The speaker is rarely as big a problem as the listener: if there are a lot of loud conversations going on, it's always hard to distinguish one from another.