You wouldn't listen, but continued to generate products, news stories, and analysis about wireless networking in my absence: Here's the run down of the last week or so's Wi-Fi and wireless stories. (Yes, I enjoyed my time off.)
Fourth US airline to go Wi-Fi: Aircell says they have a fourth airline--after American, Delta, and Virgin America--on board for its in-flight Wi-Fi service. The aerial broadband provider's latest partner will be announced soon. Aircell's service went live in 15 American Airlines planes two weeks ago, and there's been a surprising lack of reporting from regular travelers or journalists since the big splash at the launch.
Microsoft, two universities research methods for better Wi-Fi handoff for vehicles: The researchers developed a method they call Vi-Fi, writes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Todd Bishop, which allows a system to maintain connections with several base stations at once, using a primary access point for traffic until a discontinuity is predicted or encountered. This allows seamless handoffs and continuous voice conversations.
Speaking of autos and Wi-Fi, concerns raised about Chrysler's in-car Wi-Fi option: Randall Stross wrote nearly two weeks ago in The New York Times about the problem of distraction. With the Internet at your fingertips, can you restrain yourself? The only problem with the humorous and accurate analysis is that millions of business travelers have 3G access via laptop cards already, so you'd think we'd already be seeing the bad effects of automotive area networks.
A Wi-Fi booster can't post availability signs on highway: The Nebraska town of Louisville has free Wi-Fi downtown, and wanted to post "Visitor Wi-Fi" on a highway sign as another amenity. The state highway department has a policy that doesn't allow the promotion of Wi-Fi, because they believe they'd be inundated. A resident who runs a local Internet firm installed his own signs on the highway; the roads department removed them; he remounted them; they were removed again. The idea of zoning and mounting a billboard apparently hasn't come to the city officials' minds (or perhaps they're prohibited).
The folks spreading misinformation about Wi-Fi health effects cause Ulster school to disable network: I can understand why non-technical folks might think that Wi-Fi has been proven to be unsafe, given the kind of information that's available on the Internet about wireless safety. While there are ongoing studies about the safety of cellular signals--and I'm convinced at this point there's no increased risk to an adult's health by using a cell phone--there is no specific and credible research linked to Wi-Fi, which broadcasts signals at a far lower level than a cell phone, most of the time in most uses.
Washington state shuts down rest-area Wi-Fi: The $3 for 15 minutes, $7 per day, or $30 per month Wi-Fi service at 28 of Washington's 42 rest areas has been turned off after a year for lack of use. Figures. The fees charged by Parsons and Road Connect aren't unreasonable for a nationally scoped plan, but are ridiculous for limited use. States should either bite the bullet and offer these service for free, partner with national roaming operators who can resell service into large networks of business travelers, or use ads to support the service. Highways in remote areas can typically pick up cell data networks, and ongoing costs should be minimal to operate such networks.
IEEE approves fast-roaming standard, 802.11r: This new standard is designed to improve the handoff of devices between base stations. This is accomplished in part by allowing base stations to communicate security and quality of service information so that a VoIP over WLAN phone can immediately reassociate without the delay of authentication and other handshaking.
Denver airport sees 7,000 connections on a single day last week due to Democratic National Convention: FreeFi released the usage figures recently to show how their service is operating. The network started with about 600 daily users when the switchover from fee to free happened 10 months ago, and now carries about 3,500 daily connections.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf goes free: The chain of about 700 cafes will have free Wi-Fi installed by now in all its company-owned stores (about 300).