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Recent Entries

Wee-Fi: Option's GlobeSurfer III, Amtrak Un-unplugged, Forbes's Yawn
Wee-Fi: Wi-Spy DBx, Auckland-Fi, WeFi Hotspot Directory
Wee-Fi: Intel's Wi-Fi PAN Released; Eye-Fi iPhone App
Wee-Fi: Bullet Train-Fi, Curve-Fi (No 3G), Minneapolis Delays
Wee-Fi: Cities That Work, Boingo iPhone App
Wee-Fi: Virgin America Formal Launch, Heathrow Coach-Fi, Laptop Recovery
Wee-Fi: News from Meraki, Violet, Qualcomm
Wee-Fi: Houston's Burst Bubbles; BuyAnotherCupYouCheapskate
Wee-Fi: 3.65 GHz Webinar, Meru's Virtual Wi-Fi Ports
Wee-Fi: Clearwire's New Name, Challenges; $3b in Wi-Fi; Meraki Offers $10K 1 Sq Mi Kit

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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.

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January 23, 2009

Wee-Fi: Option's GlobeSurfer III, Amtrak Un-unplugged, Forbes's Yawn

By Glenn Fleishman

Option offers up another cell gateway: The GlobeSurfer III is the latest release from Option for a cellular gateway, in this case featuring the fastest HSPA flavors. The device seems unique in offering networked support for those connected via Wi-Fi and Ethernet to USB hard drives and printers. The GlobeSurfer III also handles SMS messaging. With all these features, there's no battery-only option, which is becoming a common feature among simpler wireless WAN gateways.


T-Mobile disembarks Amtrak: No press release was sent, but our eagle-eyed informal correspondent Klaus Ernst once again spots the lacuna. He was unable to find T-Mobile service at Penn Station in New York City, contacted T-Mobile customer support, and was told that the service was no longer available. T-Mobile offered Wi-Fi in five Northeast corridor stations; Amtrak still lists them as their provider. A T-Mobile spokesperson didn't respond for comment (yet), and a perusal of the company's hotspot listings show no Amtrak stations. T-Mobile was the third provider to operate this service: Ernst notes Pronto/Urbanhotspots was once a provider, then AT&T Wireless ran the service (prior to the Cingular acquisition), and finally T-Mobile. One would think that with a captive audience often waiting Wi-Fi would be a big seller. Apparently not.

We're No. 1! We're No. 1! Whatever! Forbes has released its annual nonsensical top 30 wired cities report, which, of course, includes wireless services like public Wi-Fi hotspots and Clearwire's pre-WiMax and true WiMax. The methodology is ridiculous. They're measuring percentage of homes with "high-speed connections," without showing a historgram or other data about speeds, counting Wi-Fi hotspots, and looking at the sheer number (not scope) of broadband providers. Seattle comes in at No. 1, for whatever that's worth.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:25 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

January 20, 2009

Wee-Fi: Wi-Spy DBx, Auckland-Fi, WeFi Hotspot Directory

By Glenn Fleishman

Metageek releases 2.4/5 GHz spectrum analyzer: The $799 Wi-Spy DBx, designed for network engineers, started shipping a few days ago. Metageek has long offered a 2.4 GHz analyzer ($399); this devices adds the 5 GHz band. I had a brief demo from a beta tester a few days ago, and it's rather slick. This might be a terrific tool for those building large-scale networks, trying to determine interferer sources. As with the previous Wi-Spy tools, graphical analysis software is included that allows the import and creation of profile to characterize common patterns, like cordless phones or microwave ovens.

Auckland fires up Wi-Fi service: Service was turned in preparation for the America's Cup regatta starting later this month. It's not free: NZ$3 (US$1.60) per hour, NZ$6.50 (US$3.50) per day, and NZ$30 (US$16) per month. But it's considered pretty affordable within the context of the local economy. Service is in zones rather than seamlessly across the town.

WeFi offers hotspot directory: I'm not impressed. I checked out Seattle in their database of 14 million networks and growing, and found a handful of networks across the city, even looking at both close, open, and authentication-required networks. Pretty paltry. There have been many attempts to have user-generated hotspot directories over the years. They have all faltered or failed because there's a lot of hard work in not just finding and cataloguing locations, but cleaning the data and updating it correctly over time. My usual disclosure: I own a very very small number of shares in JiWire, which built one of the first hotspot directories and still operates it. But, despite that disclosure, JiWire's the only directory that's usable; I've tried them all, and I try each new one, too.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:05 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

January 7, 2009

Wee-Fi: Intel's Wi-Fi PAN Released; Eye-Fi iPhone App

By Glenn Fleishman

Intel releases driver update to create simultaneous peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network and local area network connection: Intel started talking about its Cliffside project months ago, and EE Times reports that the silicon manipulator has released software for Centrino 2 laptops that allows simultaneous PAN (Personal Area Network) and LAN (Local Area Network) use.

PANs are used for gadgets and syncing: cameras, keyboards, printers, and such; LANs are used for network connections for file transfer, Internet access, and applications. Combining PAN and LAN into Wi-Fi without making a tradeoff is an interesting strategy, but it assumes that everything you'll want to use in a PAN has Wi-Fi built in. Bluetooth still has an advantage of both chip size and power usage over even the most efficient Wi-Fi, and most compact Wi-Fi chipsets are now being sold as integrated packages with Bluetooth on board.

Eye-Fi to offer iPhone application: Eye-Fi will offer a free application that lets owners of its Secure Digital (SD) format Wi-Fi memory card to upload pictures from the iPhone to computers and online sharing services. Eye-Fi is also working on direct video-to-YouTube uploads from its memory card.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:11 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

December 18, 2008

Wee-Fi: Bullet Train-Fi, Curve-Fi (No 3G), Minneapolis Delays

By Glenn Fleishman

Japanese bullet trains will gain the Internet service originally promised in 2006: The service wasn't delayed, but tied to new trains arriving for the Tokyo to Osaka line. The 270 km/hr line will offer Internet access over Wi-Fi, and will use leaky coax for its backhaul. Leaky coax is a kind of purposely undershielded wiring used to create a linear antenna for train lines and subway lines. WiFi Rail plans to use leaky coax to deliver Wi-Fi directly to passengers on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in California. NTT is handling the bullet-train service, which is expected to offer 2 Mbps downstream for from ¥500 (about US$5.50) for day pass to ¥1,680 (about $19) for monthly access.

AT&T will sell BlackBerry Curve with EDGE, Wi-Fi, no 3G: The Curve 8320's reliance on EDGE (2.5G) allows AT&T to offer a sort of bargain BlackBerry. It's just $150 with a two-year commitment, and the data contracts for EDGE are usually $20 per month (or less with corporate deals) instead of the $30 for 3G. AT&T will bundle its free access to its domestic hotspot footprint, as well.

Minneapolis stuck at 82 percent coverage: The city network that's the poster child for privately owned, anchor tenanted, public access Wi-Fi can't seem to get to its full footprint. The Minn. Star Tribune reports that the city and US Internet, which operates the network, failed to consult the park board about putting transmitters and poles on park grounds. Input is also needed from the state's historic preservation office and local groups about the visual impact.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:44 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

December 8, 2008

Wee-Fi: Cities That Work, Boingo iPhone App

By Glenn Fleishman

The Wall Street Journal takes a brief look at four cities for which Wi-Fi is working: I wrote a piece for Ars Technica a few weeks ago that's a superset of the cities mentioned here: Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. But it's good to see the coverage about what's working in a national newspaper. The reporter is on the ball about what's different and useful about the networks that got built and are running. In 2009, we'll see how what we think is working in 2008 proves out. So far, so good. Expectations are lower, but projects planned better, than in 2004 to 2007.

The only nit I'll pick is that for Philadelphia, the reporter says that 28,000 unique users connect to free Wi-Fi in the parks each day, which is entirely impossible. (A typo that's there right now says "28,0000," but I'm assuming the number is 28,000 instead of a plausible but high 2,800.) Could there be 28,000 unique users over a month? Maybe. But just in the parks?

Boingo releases iPhone, iPod touch app: The free application lets you enter your account information once, and then connect by selecting the Wi-Fi network and letting Boingo do the work.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:32 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

December 2, 2008

Wee-Fi: Virgin America Formal Launch, Heathrow Coach-Fi, Laptop Recovery

By Glenn Fleishman

Virgin America formally launches: Last week, Virgin America offered free Wi-Fi on its single Internet-equipped aircraft, My Other Ride's a Spaceship. Today, the service goes commercial ($10 for flights 3 hours or shorter; $13 for longer flights), and the rollout to other planes begins. Virgin has a special URL-- takes you to a tracking page showing which flights in progress have Wi-Fi, but they don't yet tell you how to determine whether a given flight you'll be on will offer the service. With 24 planes and a plan to add service one per week, that shouldn't be a problem for long.

Heathrow Airport Coach Link adds Internet service: Icomera, a leading transportation Wi-Fi firm, has added free Wi-Fi to FirstGroup's RailAir coach service that connects Heathrow Airport with Reading in England. RailAir runs every 20 minutes for a 50-minute route. FirstGroup handles 3 million passengers a day across all its routes, which makes it a plum market for future expansion.

Awareness Technologies adds Wi-Fi positioning for laptop recovery: Awareness is the latest firm to partner with Skyhook Wireless to use Wi-Fi positioning to its products, in this case Laptop Cop, software designed to aid in recovery. The software starts at $50 for a 1-year license, with discounts for quantity.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 4:25 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

November 18, 2008

Wee-Fi: News from Meraki, Violet, Qualcomm

By Glenn Fleishman

Meraki offers wall plug, solar unit, apartment package: Meraki has added two products to its line up. A wall plug ($179) can be screwed into an outlet's center screw hole for theft prevention and stability, perfect for hotels and public venues. The long-awaited solar product is nearly ready, with a 4-December ship date ($749 with no solar panel up to $1,499 with highest-end panel).

Meraki switched battery technology to lithium iron-phosphate during the year-long delay, partly due to an increase in cost and shortage in solar panels. Meraki's also got a new bundle: $5,000 for a set of nodes designed to cover an apartment building.

Over at Ars Technica, I wrote a long recap of the state of municipal Wi-Fi, noting that Meraki seems to be on the winning side of the equation with its start-small approach. A number of municipal wireless projects (not all Wi-Fi) are getting rave reviews. We may be over the hump: applications (purposes as it were) are now driving network building rather than networks seeking reasons to be.

Violet prepares to ship an RFID tag reader, Mir:ror: The new device plugs in via USB to a computer and can read standard RFID tags, as well as new ones offered by the company. Some of Violet's tags look like postage stamps and are adhesive; others, like tiny versions of their Nabaztag/tag bunny. It's weird, but interesting, like all their stuff.

Qualcomm brings in Skyhook's Wi-Fi positioning: Qualcomm becomes the latest GPS giant to add Skyhook Wireless's technology to their platform. The gpsOne system, found in 400 million cell phones, will be enhanced in future versions with an option for Skyhook data to assist and integrate with GPS lookups. Qualcomm's sold so many chipsets due to E911 requirements for location finding.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:13 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

November 12, 2008

Wee-Fi: Houston's Burst Bubbles; BuyAnotherCupYouCheapskate

By Glenn Fleishman

Houston, we have a problem: While the city reports its Wi-Fi-connected parking meters work great doubling as Wi-Fi hotspots downtown, their much-ballyhooed "bubbles" efforts to unwire housing projects seems to have narrowed in scope. The headline on the story in the Houston Chronicle, in which yours truly is quoted, is perfect: "Houston's Plan for Wi-Fi Bubbles Has Burst." The city now plans to use Wi-Fi only to connect up community centers rather than bring service to residents. As far as I and the reporter I spoke to for this story could figure out, the networks will be running as password-protected clouds that only computers in central locations will be able to access. I have no idea why anyone would think this is a good idea. Bringing Internet access to libraries, schools, and community centers is a perfectly marvelous idea, but in low-income neighborhoods, the notion of putting free or affordable Internet access in the home, paired with programs to offer inexpensive or free refurbished computers along with training, is to deal with the commensurate problem that kids can work from their homes instead of being out on the mean streets. In many neighborhoods that are both poor and high crime, parents keep their children in to avoid trouble. Thus, community centers aren't the logical way to ensure greater access and bridge the digital divide. These efforts should be trying to bring access parity across income levels to match the ecumenical availability of information to rich and poor.

buyanothercheap.jpgFreakonomics notices funny network names: A Dutch cafe using a service from a company called They displays messages via network names (SSIDs) that remind freeloaders to buy something: BuyAnotherCupYouCheapskate. I confess to finding this story amusing, but not above the threshold to share, until the New York Times's Freakonomics blog picked it up. That's partly because even though the cafe is in the Netherlands, all the messages are in English. Are Brits and Americans the only freeloaders. They, the company, not an inchoate group of people, told me that they use a technique to change the text display name of the SSID, while the underlying network identifier remains the same. This keeps customers from being booted off even as messages are dynamically rotated.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:01 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

November 10, 2008

Wee-Fi: 3.65 GHz Webinar, Meru's Virtual Wi-Fi Ports

By Glenn Fleishman

The open-license 3.65 GHz band could be a great opportunity for startups: The band is available in a good hunk of the U.S. under a licensing regime that allows anyone to obtain a license, and providers in the same geographic areas have to work to coordinate among themselves. Redline Communications and the extremely sharp Monica Paolini of Senza Fili Consulting are offering a free 45-minute Webinar (Web-based seminar) on 12-November at 11 am PST/2 pm EST on the topic. Redline is one of several firms offering 3.65 GHz gear.

Meru further virtualizes virtual SSIDs: This might seem a little technical, but it's fascinating. Enterprise Wi-Fi maker Meru says they've developed virtual ports, that allows each Wi-Fi connection to act as if there's a separate AP controlling it. This has been used for quite a while to create virtual SSIDs: unique network names fed by a single access point. Meru says their approach centralizes the virtual SSIDs (which use BSSIDs, the underlying network address for a Wi-Fi access point), allowing roaming without the adapter appearing to change its network association. That goes one level beyond current roaming. The connection is essentially virtualized to be independent of the access point. With a unique per-user virtual WLAN, Meru says that they can optimize a connection, including throttling and provisioning to provide guaranteed bandwidth and priority.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:51 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

November 5, 2008

Wee-Fi: Clearwire's New Name, Challenges; $3b in Wi-Fi; Meraki Offers $10K 1 Sq Mi Kit

By Glenn Fleishman

Clearwire, Sprint venture to be called New Clearwire: Along with FCC approval and the new name, New Clearwire has to build out 37,000 cells and raise money in a difficult climate--although they already have commitments from Google, Intel, and others.

Wi-Fi chipset sales will top $3b in 2008: So says ABI Research, which has a good track record on analysis and estimation. This number does not include anything but Wi-Fi chips and a few associated components; the sales figures for assembled cards and access points would have to be at least an order of magnitude higher. ABI says chip sales in 2006 were $1b and $2b in 2007.

Meraki offers 1 sq mi of Wi-Fi for 10 grand: The mesh-networking equipment vendor has a special deal for cities: $10,000 buys all the equipment and service needed to cover 1 sq mi, and includes a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:17 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 30, 2008

Wee-Fi: iPhones Get Free Wi-Fi; Another Loiterer Arrested

By Glenn Fleishman

AT&T finally gets off the dime--sorry, quarter--and opens its Home network to iPhone subscribers: AT&T had promised some kind of Wi-Fi deal for its legions of iPhone subscribers for more than a year, and at least twice posted information that was premature. Yesterday, the company pulled the trigger. The mechanism to get service at about 18,000 domestic hotspot locations--mostly McDonald's and Starbucks--is complicated. You join the network, visit a gateway Web page, enter your cell phone number, and wait for a (free) text message. The message contains a link to a secure site that, when followed, activates 24 hours of access, but only at that location. You can apparently activate service at as many locations as you want in a single day.

British lad arrested for kiping Wi-Fi: A 16-year-old was arrested for breaking the encryption on his neighbor's Wi-Fi network. The arrest was apparently "canceled" later--I don't understand British jurisprudence enough to get this part--with the boy's father fileing "a complaint for unlawful arrest and detention," The Register writes. The misuse was discovered because the fellow's network name was set to be his own (by his father), and this showed up in the Wi-Fi gateway's list of DHCP assignments.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:45 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 27, 2008

Wee-Fi: Enterprise 802.11n Rated; Au. U Illegal Use-Fi; Micro-Fi: Shorts on Cities

By Glenn Fleishman

Enterprise 802.11n gear has up to 10 times throughput of previous generation: Network World put four equipment makers' enterprise 802.11n gear through its paces, and found enormous improvements over 802.11g. However, as I've seen repeatedly with consumer-grade gear, maximum throughput is limited by internal system resources, like the system bus. 802.11n offers such a vastly higher rate of speed that firms and their engineers clearly need to move up yet another notch in designing equipment that can take full advantage. Network World examined Aerohive, Bluesocket, Motorola, and Siemens access points. Aruba, Cisco, and Trapeze declined in various ways to participate, which is a shame.

University of North South Wales shocked--shocked!--to find illegal downloads occurring: This Australian university may turn off its free Wi-Fi because students are acting like students, downloading what the IT director calls illegal content. The university fines students up to A$1000 for illegal downloads.

Micro-Fi round-up: Hillsboro, Ore., gains Wi-Fi through effort of local resident with Meraki boxes; Birmingham (UK) has extremely limited free-Fi, choosing to have residents, visitors pay for access via BT, criticized by Flickr's visiting community manager; Niagara Falls gets 12 square blocks of free wireless; Portsmouth, NH, accepts $350K in Cisco gear for downtown service with few strings attached.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:05 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 22, 2008

Wee-Fi: More Geolocating with Google, Boingo Ups Count, Nationals-Fi, Free AU Mickey D-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

Google announces update to Geolocation API with Gears: The company's browser engine allows extending JavaScript beyond what's possible by itself, and their library for geolocation (finding oneself through information a Web page can query the browser for, in this case with your permission) now includes Wi-Fi positioning data. This is true for both laptops, where the Geolocation API now works, and mobile devices that support Google applications. Google wouldn't say how they've developed their own Wi-Fi location database. Read my full account at Ars Technica.

Boingo says they've broken 100,000 (103,749, to be exact): The Wi-Fi aggregator signed up 2,600 hotspots from Telefonica in Spain and Argentina, while sharing 7,000 of their locations with customers of the telco networks. The 2,200 Spanish locations are online now; Argentina's 400 follows. Last month, Boingo folded in 1,100 Swisscom locations, typically supremely high priced even in Europe for stand-alone usage.

Baseball team gets lots of coverage for future add-ons: The Washington Nationals installed an 802.11n network from Meru at their ballpark, and I've seen articles all over about both their choice of N as well as their plans to add Wi-Fi-accessible instant reply clips for fans, an ability for fans to send in photos and text messages, as well as internal applications. The installation sounds cheap: $280,000 for 200 access points and all the planning and deployment. So far, the network has been used for wireless ticket scanning to add capacity where needed at gates, and to provide service for reporters and photographers.

McDonald's service goes free in the antipodes: Australian McDonald's stores will offer free Wi-Fi starting in December. By March 2009, 720 outlets will be available for use at no cost through a partnership with Telstra. McDonald's charges for service in the U.S. at its 10,000 equipped company-owned and franchise restaurants, but has a variety of partnerships and bundles that enable many users to access the network at no cost.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:03 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 20, 2008

Wee-Fi: Quantenna In Depth, WalkingHotSpot, T-Mobile's 3G Footprint, Devicescape's Easy Wi-Fi. Boingo on Moto Q 11

By Glenn Fleishman

In-depth on Quantenna: For Ars Technica, a great technology site for which I recently started a regular writing relationship, I wrote up a long interview with Quantenna's founder, in which I examine more detail about how they achieve 1 Gbps with standard Wi-Fi. The secret? Lots of radios, lots of antennas, deployed in what they say will be an inexpensive fashion. Could shake up the market, even if Quantenna isn't the winner, but they appear to have a real lead over established chipmakers.

Taproot releases WalkingHotSpot: Yet another software package for turning certain smartphones into Wi-Fi hotspots using the built-in cell data service as backhaul. The $7 per month or $25 per day software license turns on the service on Symbian S60 or Windows Mobile phones. There's a 7-day trial, too. Only WEP security is supported because ad hoc mode is used; infrastructure mode isn't available.

T-Mobile clarifies 3G availability: T-Mobile must have gotten tired of explaining that 21 markets doesn't mean 21 cities. For instance, in Los Angeles, they note via email, that market includes Anaheim, Irvine, Long Beach, and Pasadena. For clarity's sake, they're now saying 92 major cities across 21 markets now; Wednesday, with the G1 with Google smartphone launches, they'll be up to 95 cities. They say by the end of November, 120 major cities.

Devicescape expands platforms, renames software: Devicescape announced its availability on HTC phones, dominate in the Windows Mobile market worldwide; on a Fujitsu phone sold in Japan by DoCoMo; and as part of DeFi, a global VoIP over Wi-Fi calling service that's soft launching. The company also said that it's software will now be named Easy Wi-Fi across the board, and they've split their platform approach into devices, laptops, and handsets, to make it simpler for development and licensing by partners. Easy Wi-Fi is now available on a pretty large selection of smartphones, including those made by Palm, running Windows Mobile or the Nokia E60 platform, the iPhone and iPod touch, among others.

Boingo adds Moto Q 11: Boingo's software for connecting to its aggregated worldwide hotspot network is now available on the Moto Q 11 phone in the Boingo Mobile flavor ($8/month worldwide). All owners of this model can get a free month of service to test it out.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:46 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 16, 2008

Wee-Fi: Broadband Test Fairness, Network Magic 5, Manassas BPL, Wi-Fi Thermostat

By Glenn Fleishman

Virgin Media says broadband speed tests underperform: Sure, an ISP would like to tell you that the numbers produced by speed tests aren't accurate, that they undermeasure, but there's definitely truth in the statement. Virgin claims, via the BBC, that the faster the broadband, the less accurately the tests perform. Tests typically send large files or series of files of different sizes and measure throughput. Right now, Virgin says, the file sizes are too small to be meaningful. They're talking about latency here: latency and bandwidth are related but distinct properties. Bandwidth measures the diameter of the pipe, or its capacity to carry water, say; latency is the measure of how long it takes for water to reach the faucet after you turn on the tap. There's also the issue of congestion between a user's system and the testing location, which can have nothing to do with real-world performance for downloading media files or handling commercial Web sites. With 50 Mbps service on the way in the UK, they're apparently a bit anxious about being told they're slow.

Cisco releases Network Magic 5 for simplified network setup: The software's designed to take the frustration out of increasingly complicated home networking setups, where users don't want to take IT classes to get devices to talk to each other. Versions from from $30 to $50, with Mac support adding $25.

Manassas, Virg., takes over broadband over powerline network: The previous operator was unable to sell its network as planned, and about 700 customers would have lost service. The city wants to use the network to test automated meter reading, and thus makes sense to continue running. Manassas was the site of several complaints by amateur radio operators who found varying levels of interference from BPL gear. While the FCC wasn't highly sympathetic to the hams, BPL just hasn't played out as a viable, competitive technology. Every major use of BPL has been scaled back or dropped; smaller networks are starting to disappear, too.

Ecobee pairs thermostat with Wi-Fi: The Ecobee Smart Thermostat doesn't rely on a powerline network connection, but uses Wi-Fi to communicate. This lets the thermostat be programmed and controlled from a computer instead of through a mystifying front panel. I have a decent touchscreen thermostat installed last year, and even with my decades of programming and electronics background, I'm still confused at times about what button to push. The unit costs $385 and ships in 2009, but could be distributed by utilities, which could provide remote management and messaging through the units. The company claims the cost could be recovered through intelligent use within 12 to 18 months.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:51 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 15, 2008

Wee-Fi: Cablevision Expands, Burbank May Go Free

By Glenn Fleishman

Cablevision doubles Wi-Fi network area: Cablevision continues its inexorable march to install Wi-Fi for its cable customers across its territory. The company said this morning that they had installed Optimum WiFi in more areas, including Connecticut and Westchester/Dutchess counties in New York. Cablevision's plan calls for them to spend $300m to install thousands of Wi-Fi nodes for outdoor use only by their current cable data customers at no additional charge.

Burbank airport might go free: The local paper says that the airport authority might switch to free Wi-Fi to attract more passengers. But the paper gets the details wrong on the finance side. The three cellular providers who pay the authority a fee of about $30,000 per year would remain, operating their cellular voice and data services. Rather, T-Mobile is the Wi-Fi provider, and the regional authority would have to work out a deal with them, ostensibly. No other airport authority in Southern California provides free Wi-Fi, but it's an increasingly common option among 2nd and 3rd tier airports that attracts hundreds of thousands to millions of passengers a year, such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Sacramento.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:24 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

October 10, 2008

Wee-Fi: Mass. Train-Fi, iPhone App Location Awareness

By Glenn Fleishman

Massachusetts expands trial of train-Fi: The state's train authority will spend $1.4m to expand a trial program for Wi-Fi on certain state commuter lines to all 258 coaches. The program's formal launch is Wednesday. The annual cost is estimated at $300,000, but the authority didn't try to estimate savings or other expenses involved in shifting people from cars to trains as a result of the service.

Skyhook says 300 iPhone apps access location: Location guru Brady Forrest breaks down the data about how many iPhone applications are aware of their surroundings. No numbers here about the number of queries per day Skyhook is handling from iPhones, which we would all love to know, but is certainly proprietary to their deal with Apple. Forrest doesn't mention another interesting sidenote: Skyhook corrects their database of Wi-Fi locations with every query sent by an iPhone, which as a highly mobile device, must have a dramatic effect on extending and enhancing their routine truck-based scanning.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:34 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

October 8, 2008

Wee-Fi: Firefox Geolocation; Apple's Starbucks Page Missing; American Filters

By Glenn Fleishman

Mozilla releases early version of geolocator technology: Geode, an add-on for Firefox 3.0 from Mozilla Labs, uses Skyhook Wireless's Wi-Fi positioning system to provide approximate coordinates for your current location. A more full-blown geolocation service will be built into Firefox 3.1, allowing choice among providers, use of GPS, and other extensions. Firefox 3.0 with this add-on supports a Web site querying a user's location; the browser prompts the surfer for whether they want to reveal this and at what granularity (exact, neighborhood, or city). Mozilla is supporting the W3C Geolocation spec in both this add-on and the full 3.1 implementation.

Starbucks page gone missing from Apple, Engadget discovers: Apple's had a page up about its partnership with Starbucks, one that's stalled in expansion the last year, where the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is available via iPhones, iPod touch players, and laptops. I speculated back in February that the move from T-Mobile to AT&T for Starbucks signaled a closer partnership with Apple, but that hasn't materialized yet. (The full iTunes Store requires a laptop with a "real" Wi-Fi connection via AT&T or T-Mobile, depending on which firm operates the store, instead of the limited free Wi-Fi used for the music-only iTunes subset.)

American Airlines joins the in-flight filtering club: Passengers aren't viewing inappropriate content, apparently, but the possibility of it--and perhaps flight attendants being able to use that to their advantage in negotiations--appear to be leading to filtering. Delta also said recently that they would provide minimal filtering when they launched trials. Knowing Virgin, they'll add 18-plus seating sections where pornography is encouraged.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:49 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

October 6, 2008

Wee-Fi: Delta Filters, Smart-Fi, Abandonment

By Glenn Fleishman

Delta has mid-air reversal on filtering Web content: Delta said it wouldn't filter its in-flight Internet system (not yet launched), but now says it will have a short list of inappropriate sites that no one would disagree were inappropriate. That might work. While filtering is impossible to enforce on a broad scale, choosing a small list of sites the airline feels are off limits, that might balance some basic interests.

Wi-Fi attraction for students: Nearly half of students surveyed would prefer Wi-Fi over beer at school. Three-quarters think Wi-Fi makes helps them get better grades. Take that, Lakehead University!

MetroFi antennas won't fall like autumn leaves: Portland, Ore., must wait until April 2009 to declare MetroFi's Wi-Fi nodes abandoned and take them down. While MetroFi gave the city a deposit, it will cost the Oregon metropolis $36,000 of its own cash to remove them, although the city's wireless go-to guy says they'll try to recover cash from MetroFi. To my knowledge, MetroFi has not filed for bankruptcy, even though the company no longer has working phone lines and hasn't returned comments.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:37 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments | No TrackBacks

October 2, 2008

Wee-Fi: Phila-Fi Developments, Cablevision Hires

By Glenn Fleishman

Philadelphia network has 100,000 monthly sessions: NAC, which took over Phila.'s network from EarthLink, has assumed full control at the end of a 3-month transition period, Wi-Fi Planet reports. The company said that sessions average 4 hours. The new owners are looking to entice Phila. to have them build a wireless public-safety network and offer business services as well. While NAC's head Derek Pew say that EarthLink didn't focus on "municipal and commercial usage," I'd argue that the statement is half right: EarthLink's plan was to offer such service, and their networks were built with that in mind; they just didn't get enough traction, such as a complete and well-functioning network, that would have allowed them to take the next step. NAC estimates a full best-effort Wi-Fi network will be finished in 12 to 18 months.

Cablevision announces Wi-Fi executives: I normally don't cover routine press releases that note that so-and-so has joined or left a certain company. But with Craig Plunkett, that's different. Craig has been doggedly building and running Wi-Fi networks in Long Island, Fire Island, and elsewhere in New York for several years, and co-developed the Wi-Fi on wheels system Wi-RAN. He's joining Cablevision, the folks with a $300m budget to build outdoor network for their cable data customers, as the VP of Wireless Market Development. Cablevision also snagged Tim Farrell (VP, Wireless Product Development), who had a similar role at Boingo Wireless. Craig and I have corresponded an enormous amount over the years, and he's the best person who could hired for this position, given his experience, especially specific to Long Island.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:07 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Wee-Fi | No Comments

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