Receive new posts as email.
This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator.
Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2009 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.
Wi-Fi spectrum to be auctioned off: John C. Dvorak discovers that the U.S. Congress has voted to sell the unlicensed spectrum in which Wi-Fi works by 2012. In the meantime, a license code will be needed, purchased from the FCC, and coded into your devices' SSIDs. Microwave ovens won't be exempt; a $10 per month "potential interference fee" will be collected. Think this is too hard to regulate? Remember that TV detector vans drive around Britain fining people who lack a TV license!
Exploding head: An English schoolteacher's head exploded due to electromagnetic radiation at his school in Cotswold as part of an experiment gone awry.
The twist? This time, wires are involved: The Wi-Fi Alliance is poised to provide certification for a quietly developed flavor of 802.11--one so quietly developed that its true implications weren't understood, and few impediments were put in its way, such as internecine squabbling over esoteric details. The new flavor, 802.11af, will be ratified as Wi-Fi Over Ethernet (WoE), an unfortunate acronym that shouldn't bode poorly for the standard's future. (It's probably better they opted against Wi-Fi over Wires, WoW, which many geeks would have confused with World of Warcraft.)
Wi-Fi over Ethernet combines electromagnetic resonance--the ability of a EMF to excite signals in wires--with excess wired capacity in a manner similar to how broadband over powerline works. Where properly equipped 802.11af Ethernet switches and adapters are available, coupled with WOE-capable Wi-Fi systems, the Wi-Fi signals will simply be picked up and carried by the Ethernet network. Switching and transmission then become limited to the extent of the wired network--which will improve throughput and range. (A future standard might allow passive powering of lightweight devices from Ethernet, which is a neat reversal.)
This is in the same category of new convergent standards such as Bluetooth over 802.11 and FireWire (IEEE 1394) over IEEE 741-2007: ways to provide better specs on one standard by combining it with another that has a complementary purpose.
Now, of course, modern computing systems tend to include gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi, so why do we need a third modality that combines the two? Partly because of new devices like the MacBook Air and smartphones like BlackBerrys with Wi-Fi built in. Without an Ethernet adapter, the range of these devices can be limited, and throughput restricted.
You were waiting for the magic number: How fast is WoE? Nearly 1600 Mbps raw speed, and about 30 Mbps of raw throughput. Before you scoff, remember that you might be able to use WoE over hundreds of meters across a switched Ethernet network, where a Wi-Fi signal might stretch just a hundred or two hundred feet. If Wi-Fi beats WoE, a computer will use Wi-F.
The Wi-Fi Alliance hasn't set the date of their certification yet, but I'm told it will happen any day. The mark will be added to the list of A, B, G, Draft N, WMM Power Save, and other symbols, as AF. The industry is considering a campaign around the phrase, "WoE is me(tm)!" trying to capture the excitement of the new synergy. Again, unfortunate acronym.
The IEEE has finalized and approved a draft, but final ratification isn't expected until 1 April 2009.
A report in TidBITS dated April 1 explains Seattle's recent coffeehouse ban: As we all know, Wi-Fi commonly operates in the 2.4 GHz band, the same band used by microwave ovens to heat food through the bipolar effect in which rapid switching causes friction in water molecules. (Not resonance as is often mistakenly stated.)
This can apparently lead to dangerous results not previously seen as the density of Wi-Fi usage increases. At a local coffeeshop, an ill-advised gateway placement and too many Wi-Fi users resulted in the espresso machine's boiler exploding from too much pressure. Several were injured, only one seriously; all were bloggers.
Seattle has formed the WTF (Wi-Fi Testing Foundation) to better understand this incident, but has proactively banned Wi-Fi until the results come in.
Broadcom and Atheros drop conflict, team up for interference-free Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi industry closed ranks today when a long-simmering dispute between Broadcom and Atheros over interference caused by competing high-speed products was dropped in favor of joint development.
There's a history of this form of cooperation in which companies that otherwise compete cross-license patents and develop standards so that each can offer products that benefit the consumer.
As Tom's Networking reports, the new SuperBurner-AF technology overcomes both physical obstructions that can reduce the range of wireless networks while also eliminating the interference caused by nearby wireless LANs.
In related news, Tes-La has introduced Wi-Fi-based laptop charging. The Tes-La wireless power system allows hotspot operaters to add a TCP/EP (TCP over Electrical Power) to their access points, while users add an adapter to their power jack. TCP/EP allows a hotspot to meter and charge for electrical use over Wi-Fi.
Tes-La's leading competitor, Noside Connections, claims Tes-La technology could cause death and injury, which all business travels know is a small price to pay to keep one's laptop charged.
In an entirely unrelated story except for the name "Connections," but which happens to fit in this space, prisoners in the UK get free Wi-Fi. It's the latest innovative approach to rehabilitation coming from the country that brought us debtor's prison and jail time for failure to pay television license fees.
Meanwhile, Doc Searls of Linux Journal forwarded this item: Reuters reports the discovery of a Wi-Fi hot spot "about the size of Turkey" in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of the Canary Islands. The dimensions of the spot were determined by combined reports of communications officers on-board container cargo and cruise ships. Asked to comment on the quality of the connection through the hot spot, Ozmo Zdilmidgi, who works with the Maersk Sealand company, said, "I dunno. It was WEPped and we couldn't get on."