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Wireless Giving

Supporting 802.11b Networking News: It's been a while since I've noted the icons for PayPal and Amazon.com's honor system at right. In order to write articles for this site and keep up to date on news, I devote a relatively significant part of my week to talking to people, reading stories, and writing. Some of that winds up in journals that pay, like the New York Times and Macworld magazine. Much of it winds up just in these pages. (Yes, I subsidize my interest in Wi-Fi by writing professionally. It's a sad life.)

If you find this Web log useful and you read it regularly consider a subscription donation of . From enough people, that kind of support goes a long way, and makes it increasingly possible for me to continue to devote the time I have to this site. Thanks for listening to this brief pledge break.

New Windows Tablet PC has Wi-Fi as only interface: Steve McLaughlin notes: There are no serial or parallel ports, just USB folks. And all Tablet PCs come with built-in 802.11b WiFi as standard.

Steve Outing on Starbucks and Tablet intersection: Steve's a noted commentator on electronic journalism of all sorts, and he points to the increasing likelihood of ubiquity of Wi-Fi access (or any kind of wireless access) where businesspeople work and travel and comingle as part of a trend that may finally bring news to a tablet-like newsreader. Like the Microsoft Windows Tablet PC. He points out the irony that devices like a tablet newsreader have been predicted for years, but that no one quite figured it wouldn't be a dedicated device, but rather an all-purpose computer.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:49 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/27/2002

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Cheap, up-to-30-device Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi generic bridge from Linksys: Not only is the device I've been predicting and wishing for, but it's cheap: suggested price of 9. The device accepts a single device or a hub connection and can retransmit up to 30 downstream devices. 3Com sells a competing device that works with up to four Ethernet devices for about 0 street price. The unit supports WEP.

Broadband Wireless Alliance forms FCC committee: In another sign of increasing maturity in the industry, members are doing it for themselves (to quote the Eurythmics). The committee is an attempt to create a formal channel between wireless ISPs and the FCC, to better communicate the industry's needs. At the same time, the BWA is working on creating a method for multiple wISPs to better sort out the kind of problems that happen when multiple networks start impinging on each other. Because the FCC doesn't offer guidance in that area for unlicensed devices, and rightly so, a formal alliance of interested parties is an excellent way to reach consensus.

Seattle Times on cooperation: Nancy Gohring filed this report on the contretemps in the last week or so about Wi-Fi frequency conflict with T-Mobile. T-Mobile appears to have taken the classy way out of the situation by simply upgrading their software. No new reports have surfaced since.

Barron's on Wi-Fi's disruptive effect on 3G [paid subscription required]: Bill Alpert writes in Barron's about Starbucks and T-Mobile's Wi-Fi hot spot rollout, and speculates that although there are a flies in the ointment (shared bandwidth problems with free networks, spotty coverage, signal overlap), that there's still some potential for hot spots to take advantage of 3G's initial expense and its ongoing tardiness. Alpert makes just a couple of mistakes, implying that Wi-Fi is 2 Mbps (later he says that 802.11a could be 25 times faster); and that all the shared bandwidth used for free networks is not being shared under the terms of providers' agreements.

At the end of the piece, he notes that Intersil's share of the market is still 65 percent, which is remarkable for an incumbent in the middle of a disruptive market change. Alpert points out that Marvell, a little-known dynamo, just announced a set of Wi-Fi chips that eventually could sell for as little as . Such chips today cost to . Marvell's radio and PHY single-chip design is all in CMOS, a very cheap alternative to the more exotic silicon germanium and other compounds often used in radio technology. (The MAC chip is still separate, but those are pure commodity items.) CMOS chips can be made in many plants and on extremely large wafer sizes, which reduces costs. Five dollars is a great target, and a surprising near-term one, but when they hit full-scale multi-million chip production, the cost will certainly hit even lower numbers.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:10 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/26/2002

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Rafe Needleman says T-Mobile turns up heat on smaller hot spot providers: I agree with part of his sentiment, in that T-Mobile's more confident entry and commitment into the field signals the first real U.S. test of whether enough revenue and cross-selling can be extracted from Wi-Fi hot spots. As I've said before, T-Mobile, as the number six U.S. cell carrier, has a lot to gain by picking up cell customers at Starbucks, and can probably realize substantially more revenue off those signups than it can in the next 12 months from hot spot revenue.

Rafe argues that T-Mobile's upsurge in locations may threaten smaller hot spot operators, like Surf and Sip. I disagree with this slightly, only because I consider T-Mobile's deployment to still be extremely tiny. I would lump the current and future Starbucks network with the dozens of other smaller networks. Yes, it's a bigger footprint, but T-Mobile doesn't have many airports, it doesn't have partnerships for roaming, and it doesn't offer enough ubuiqity to matter. It's very clear that the main market for the Starbucks service is going to be people who pay a month for unlimited region-based access. People who roam around town are more likely to be good customers than people who roam around the country unless they are on a very specific set of routes that takes them to T-Mobile-enabled cities.

More likely, the T-Mobile announcement lifts all boats, as it gives entrepreneurs the kind of hard evidence that allows them to hit up investors for more capital for expansion. When you can walk into a meeting and use the installed outlets of Starbucks and the projections of Boingo, Go America, and others, then you can explain how it costs T-Mobile ,000 to ,000 per Starbucks to install their service and ,000 to ,000 a month for T-1 service and other support.

You then turn the tables and explain your entrepreneurial vision is sleeker, requiring just 0 or 0 per outlet, which you make the outlet pay most of, and 0 per month for support and bandwidth, which, again the outlet pays most of. Because you can partner more cheaply with venues that don't offer branding and national advertising (see Starbucks's ad in today's New York Times), and you can set up to broadcast your service a little more indiscriminately, so that nearby Starbucks, other cafes, and other public places can get access, you sweep the net a bit wider for potential users with substantially lower cost of acquisition. Investors find that kind of math attractive, even as companies continue to disappear: the ones that are left behind spent most of their money on paying for infrastructure; the ones that last will have their partners pay for most or all of it. (hereUare and WiFi Metro gave themselves two weeks starting July 22: are they still operating? Their sites are.)

On the missing in action front for larger deployments, I'd like to know what happened with British Telecom's plans to have 400 hot spots this year and 4,000 within a few years (April), the two South Korean telcos combined 25,000 hot spots this year, Go American's announcement at CTIA a few months ago about 1,200 hot spots, and Boingo's Sky Dayton's prediction of 5,000 hot spots in Boingo's partner network by year's end. How much of this has materialized? Sparse information on the various sites and no major milestone announcement, as far as I can tell. [Original link via Kevin Werbach's Werblog]

MIA update: A colleague wrote in with BT's info. They have a page with their coverage area, which is pretty skimpy. The restated goals are 70 hot spots by end of 2002; 400 by June 2003.

Free the D.C. Wireless 11 (Mbps)!: In Washington, D.C., the CyberStop Cafe lit up a free high-speed Wi-Fi network throughout its two floors and outdoor patio. Here's where to find them, about a mile from the Mall. [Via CyberStop's Paul Scutt – thanks for letting us know!]

Reporter listens to single account, writes story: I hate to critique the poor daily reporter whose specialty is not technology who, when faced with a good story and corroboration from various sources, writes something that's totally uninformed, but it's impossible for him or her to know. Nonetheless, this piece conflates many trends, mostly innocuous, into rampaging, wardriving, warchalking crackers, roaming the streets! Its final paragraphs are certainly right on: nobody with anything to hide, from credit card numbers to corporate data, should expose more information than needed. Via Cory Doctorow, who tears the reporter a new Wi-Fi antenna port.

New Zealand firm claims RoamAD offers non-line-of-sight, mesh-like service: The claims in this press release seem a bit broad for what is currently known about 802.11b and similar networks, but they have a test network up and running. In essence, they've achieved part of the holy grail, if it checks out, which is creating seamless areas of network access without installing thousands and thousands of access points. Note that in the article, the committed data rate is up to 330 kbps.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:08 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/24/2002

Get the Linksys wireless Wi-Fi access point with 4-port 10/100 Mbps switched Ethernet with free shipping for just 0 or the WAP11 for just 5 from Amazon.com


The above would be a paid, sponsored link if it were an ad. Contact us for more information. Free shipping is for slower, Super Saver method within the US.

Burning Man Wi-Fi: Raines Cohen, veteran Mac god and doer of good deeds, signed his latest post to the BAWUG wireless list with the following tech detail from Burning Man: from Black Rock City, Nevada (site of Burning Man) via Tachyon satellite wireless (thanks to Cliff Cox of Oregon Country Fair Embassy), current initial 802.11b coverage (SSID "internet", open) covers about 2/3rds of the city (soon to be Nevada's fifth largest) from a single node on Playa Info's tower "downtown" at Center Camp, will be upgraded through addition of repeaters as the city grows and as PlayaNET public-access kiosks and intranet network comes online.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:43 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/23/2002

Get the Linksys wireless Wi-Fi access point with 4-port 10/100 Mbps switched Ethernet with free shipping for just 0 or the WAP11 for just 5 from Amazon.com


The above would be a paid, sponsored link if it were an ad. Contact us for more information. Free shipping is for slower, Super Saver method within the US.

HP's Starbucks-related non-news: In case it was unclear why HP's participation in Wednesday's Starbucks was purely for PR value (the former Compaq head, now HP's president was there), just read the requirements for their wireless configuration software: Any notebook system running Microsoft Windows 2000, using a Compaq 802.11b WL110 wireless card [or] Any Pocket PC running Microsoft Pocket PC 2002, using a Compaq 802.11b WL110 wireless card. Essentially, it's a configuration tool for their own gear, but they managed to get press as if it were a generic tool like Boingo's. (An aside: I just checked Boingo's compatibility chart for their software, and they've added a few dozen pieces of hardware I was unaware of, including my cheap Linksys PC Card.)

Insecure enough for you?: If you still thought that your wireless networking was safe without a VPN or other encryption, think again. This excellent column by Lincoln Stein in New Architect shows just how easy it is to kipe content. A few months ago, I had the fear of grep put into me by a perl god (not using perl, of course, for that particular task), and I am fully SSH tunneled on my mail connections and otherwise locked down before I sign onto wireless networks even in my office. (For more on SSH tunneling, a way of creating a secure connection from a local machine to a remote host, read the several articles at O'Reilly Networks, or buy SSH: The Secure Shell, a Definitive Guide.)

Stroh blogs: Somehow I missed Steve Stroh's new (?) blog. Steve publishes Focus on Broadband Wireless Internet Access, a highly targeted editorial newsletter that aims to shed light on the emerging market in its title. His blog is equally illuminating. Steve is technical, and understands the little things to do with FCC licensing, radio transceivers, and protocols that baffle most of we journalists. He was one of the first (and is still one of the only) people to cast shadows over RF (radio frequency) illumination, warning that it may severely impact or disable the current generation of 2.4 GHz data communication systems, like Wi-Fi.

He also has a lot of good insider knowledge that he brings to bear on the field. For instance, I said MobileStar was not using 802.11 in its early Starbucks deployments, and it turns out they lied to me and told him the truth: they put in some Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) installations early on to meet contractual obligations. They told me that no Starbucks anywhere had anything but Wi-Fi. Ah, well, they're gone now, aren't they? (Also, Steve noted that 802.11 does not equal FHSS: of course, he's right. There are plenty of Part 15-complaint non-IEEE-protocol devices operating in the 2.4 GHz band.)

Tim Pozar on the FCC and antenna systems: a pithy but interesting interview with microwave consultant Tim Pozar. Tim refs his paper, presented a few months ago, in this interview, which is good reading if you want to understand the regulatory and technical framework surrounding 2.4 GHz.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:48 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/22/2002

Get the Linksys wireless Wi-Fi access point with 4-port 10/100 Mbps switched Ethernet with free shipping for just 0 or the WAP11 for just 5 from Amazon.com


The above would be a paid, sponsored link if it were an ad. Contact us for more information. Free shipping is for slower, Super Saver method within the US.

Happy Co-existence in Portland, Oregon: Nigel Ballard reports from Portland on the T-Mobile/Personal Telco channel conflict: ...Personal Telco now has clear channel 1 usage at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Oregonian spoke with T-Mobile today, and as a result of the co-channel usage issue, T-Mobile has done the right thing and moved their Pioneer Courthouse Square node to Channel 11.

Yes that's a victory for us, but it also shows that the big Telco's aren't unmovable, literally or otherwise. Of course the tremendous "David & Goliath" press coverage helped things along I'm sure...

If PTP ever moves into RF space that is already used by a T-Mobile or another user, I've stressed to the press that we will always endeavor to seek a vacant or non-interfering channel because we believe in the good RF neighbor policy.


Slack time not slackers: Yesterday's joint announcement by Starbucks and T-Mobile marked the end of a long, long beta cycle. I wrote an article for The Seattle Weekly in May 2001 when MobileStar had just started to light up Seattle-area outlets for testing, and Starbucks was a bit snippy with me about it.

I completely understood their problem with the article: the baristas and other employees weren't trained, the system wasn't tested, and they weren't even sure yet whether the whole thing would work out long-term. I sympathized, and I'm not an investigative reporter, but given that the network was live and reachable, it made sense to write about the early steps. (I would have been less sympathetic if they were just trying to manage PR, but it was more about operations than press.)

Ann Saunders, Starbucks vice president of interactive and new ventures, told me in an interview yesterday, "We have very quiet in the past about letting customers know about the stores." Starbucks now feels that they're ready to turn up the volume. Stores will have collateral materials and stickers that brand the star as a T-Mobile HotSpot, the new name for the service.

HP's involvement in the announcement was somewhat symbolic. I asked Saunders if the press event was a coming-out party for the partners who have taken over their original partners (MobileStar and Compaq), and she agreed that the real news was the increase in the number of stores with wireless access.

HP will have a more direct role in the future, potentially. In Seattle, during a brief time, there were Compaq iPaqs and freestanding kiosks. HP may be involved in bringing those back. "We have a test market in Denver where we have a handful of kiosks in stores," Saunders said. "We’re learning more about that. It’s definitely something we’re experimenting [with]."

T-Mobile will handle all technical support, as expected, with limited information available in the stores. "It’s a T-Mobile service, and they’re the folks that operate the network and can answer technical questions, and we think that’s the right way to talk about the service," Saunders said.

Saunders also helped explain a cryptic remark by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on Monday, when he said the new hotspots would make stores the "antitheses" of a cyber cafe. Saunders said, “hat we do is provide a terrific environment for people to come into, and either take a break and unplug, or, if they want to stay connected, they bring their own devices in and connect to the service that’s offered. If you say cyber cafe, you envision 15 monitors and computers lined up against the wall with uncomfortable chairs next to them." More specifically, she said, "We’re making a network available."

The new wireless users don't worry Starbucks. "We’re happy to have our customers in the stores, and what we learned in tests, is that most usage of our network happens outside peak hours and outside our capacity constraint time," Saunders said.

Who did the what to the who now? Starbucks partner in wireless networking is T-Mobile International's T-Mobile HotSpot service, according to the press release issued yesterday. The fine print says, "VoiceStream Wireless Corp. is one of the fastest growing wireless service providers in the United States. Its new T-Mobile brand debuted in the U.S. with the launch of service in California and Nevada in July and VoiceStream will transition its current VoiceStream brand to T-Mobile nationwide by the end of the year."

Various articles written about Wednesday's announcement called the company T-Mobile USA, VoiceStream, and other combinations.

Sarah Kim, a wireless analyst at The Yankee Group, said in an interview yesterday that this change in branding makes T-Mobile the clear winner in this partnership because of Starbucks better brand.

She cogently said, "The anchor point no matter what happens is Starbucks brand. Voicestream clearly has identity issues right now. They’re sort of the ugly duckling in this whole mess. It doesn’t really bode well for any real end of their business, especially something that’s new and really cutting edge. One of the things any big carrier could bring to this market is their brand name and their commitment as a brand name that there’s a consistent experience anywhere you go and the commitment that they’re continue to exist."

Needless to say, that consistency doesn't exist right at the moment.

Starbucks "is a pretty good logistically safe company to be rolling this out with. Not only is their brand strong, but they clearly have very good operations and customer service beyond everything else," Kim said.

Kim has some skepticism about the speed that revenue will come in from the venture. She noted that Wayport has raised over a 0 million in funding over its lifetime and is not yet close to breaking even. (Wayport recently said they hit 1 million connections, which could represent to million in revenue over the history of the company from single-day connections.)

Kim's response to Schultz's "antithesis of cyber cafes" remark focused on the image that a cyber cafe brings to mind. "The unfortunate part of the cybercafes that all went under in the early years is that they all focused on a business that was not core to coffee," she sad. "And unfortunately coffee tends to be a very very lucrative high-margin business, so I can see where he [Schultz] wants to make his shareholders and Wall Street confident in this idea that the coffee is not going to be an adjunct to connectivity. Connectivity is going to be complementary to a visitor—an enhancing technology or tool."

When you hear cyber cafe, she said, "You think of Linux programmers hanging out or gamers. Starbucks is all about trendy 20- to 30-year-old yuppies of the new cities, with high tech jobs. Coming in, coming out. It’s completely antithesis of the Linux programmer."

Despite the doubts about the current pricing and market, Kim said, "For Starbucks, it’s a no-brainer. It’s all part of their overall wireless strategic initiative, which includes wireless LANs but isn’t limited to it.”

Ding, Dong, T-Mobile Calling: The Rosai Group, a Macintosh reseller and network consulting company, just happens to be next door to a Starbucks in the Mission District of San Francisco. And that Starbucks just happened to be the anointed location for yesterday’s joint announcement by Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Hewlett-Packard of the expansion of T-Mobile’s service in Starbucks outlets, and HP’s new configuration software.

A few days before the press conference, Kyle Emerick, the co-founder and co-owner of The Rosai Group, received a visit from T-Mobile’s installers. "They came over and asked, you have this Apple AirPort network, and can you turn it off for a day or change the channel," Emerick said in an interview yesterday.

Originally, this account sounded like an aggressive move, but after talking with Emerick, it's clear that the T-Mobile installers were more concerned about PR than technical details.

"They were worried about the CEO of Starbucks being there and seeing these other locations. When they did their demonstration, our network showed up as one of the choices. They didn't like that.

"Maybe it’s my growing up in New York, but they probably could tell they were not going to get very far with asking me to do this. If they had come over with an envelope of money, okay, I’ll turn it off for the day."

Instead, Emerick changed the channel. Meanwhile, Surf and Sip's founder Rick Ehrlinspiel had heard of the demo and he knew the two owners of The Rosai Group, Emerick and Carlos Rosai. On Tuesday, Ehrlinspiel installed a Surf and Sip hotspot in their offices, and was on hand to give out coupons for 10 hours of free access as the press arrived on Wednesday morning.

The event itself disrupted The Rosai Group's business. "They had parked a convertible Mercedes in one of our parking spots, and the whole block roped off with the San Francisco Police Department," Emerick said. "They should have approach us with a little bit more finesse." He added, however, "The Starbucks people have been nothing but nice." He and his co-workers frequently use their private network while working at Starbucks.

Emerick noted an interesting phenomenon while T-Mobile predecessor MobileStar was bringing that Starbucks outlet online, and the network didn't require authentication to access. "We would have these old hippie relic campers parked in front of our office with about 14 dogs, and they had these brand-new Apple laptops with the glowing Apple," Emerick said. "I went up and asked what he was doing. He was hitting the Starbucks network."

"Here’s a guy who, I don’t even know how he got the money to buy the laptop, and here he is on the Internet surfing the Net. We had so many of those in the neighborhood it was unbelievable."

Word spreads fast.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:06 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/21/2002

Get the Linksys wireless Wi-Fi access point with 4-port 10/100 Mbps switched Ethernet with free shipping for just 0 or the WAP11 for just from Amazon.com


The above would be a paid, sponsored link if it were an ad. Contact us for more information. Free shipping is for slower, Super Saver method within the US.

Today's Stories

Starbucks and T-Mobile announce 1,200 hot spots; 800 more by 2003
HP unveils wireless configuration software
T-Mobile reconfigures to avoid stepping on other networks
Coverage from other publications
How the Swedes handle co-existence of networks
Tomorrow: T-Mobile knocked on the Rosai Group's door and said, would you mind turning off your private LAN?

Starbucks, T-Mobile, and HP reveal 1,200 hot spots, new software: Today's joint announcement, scheduled at 10 am, but announced in a press release at 4 am this morning, shows the future of what is now called T-Mobile HotSpot service. The press release says that 1,200 hot spots are now up and running in these cities and states (Connecticut's an awfully large single item): Atlanta; Austin, TX; Boston; Connecticut; Denver; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Houston; New York; New Jersey; Philadelphia; Portland, OR; the San Francisco Bay area; and the Seattle region. (The Texas, New York City, SF,and Seattle service was all up and running before fall 2001.)

By the end of 2002, these locations will also be lit up: southern California, including Los Angeles; Chicago; Maryland; Pittsburgh; Virginia; and Washington DC. The service has already expanded to Europe with certain London and Berlin stories active; the company said additional stores and cities will be lit up. The stores will have a T-Mobile HotSpot brand to identify that access is available.

HP's connection software can be downloaded here, and the company is offering off a Wi-Fi card here, which, at , is not a bad deal for what appears to be an OEM rebranded Agere Orinoco card. (Agere recently sold this product line to Proxim.)

Meanwhile, T-Mobile is offering free day passes. They also have a NetGear Wi-Fi card for with certain plans when you sign up. Currently, the link from Starbucks's page that says to click for a free day pass takes you to T-Mobile's HotSpot information without any free pass mentioned.

Starbucks's wireless store locator is merely an extension of their current store locator (select wireless from the popup menu), and it doesn't appear to offer a simple way to, for instance, find all activated stores in a geographic area -- only city by city. T-Mobile's location finder is sluggish this morning, and it's clear that they've just modified MobileStar's old location finder code (the page names are the same). However, it allows you to select entire categories.

Analysis: This isn't a bold move, but it's a welcome one that will continue to raise the boat for the entire wireless ISP market. As customers come to find ubiquity, they also start to expect ubiquity. The same trend happened with cell phone service, and hotel Internet access. This announcement is a reiteration of earlier deals with Compaq (HP's merger partner) and MobileStar, and a reaffirmation of Starbucks of agreements in place since winter and spring 2001. By not announcing partner networks today, however, T-Mobile definitely sent a signal that it is continuing to go it alone, confident in its expanding footprint that will allow it to set terms for roaming.

Boingo's Network Size: Boingo's aggregated network still stands at under 700 locations, making it an interesting catch-up for the company to meet the 5,000 hot spots earlier predicted by year's end. A few big deals could change that, but until then, T-Mobile rules the roost.

Surf and Sip Guerrilla Tactics: Literally as I write this while the conference is underway in SF, Rick Ehrlinspiel is handing out Surf and Sip coupons for 10 hours of free access to journalists and others as they enter. Rick called me this morning to tell me that he installed a hot spot next door to the press announcement Starbucks yesterday at The Rosai Group. Commercial guerrilla Wi-Fi?

News.com reports that T-Mobile upgraded its software to avoid conflicts: With a different set of starting assumptions than the Oregonian article two days ago, News.com reports that T-Mobile upgraded its Cisco access points to avoid using Wi-Fi channels already in use, solving the Portland problem. (True, Personal Telco members?)

How the Swedes Handle Co-Existence: I asked Carlo Cassisa, the business development director of Sweden's Telia Homerun wireless provider, how they handle wireless access point overlaps. Telia has one of the most extensive networks in the world, and they're in a tighter geographic configuration than, say, Wayport: Up til now we have been able to use the old "Swedish Consensus" in the few cases we have had "problems". As we mostly have hotels and only few cafes we have had little interference problem. Our guys normally scan the band to see if there are any networks already and try to choose one that is least "contaminated". ( A chat with the others is not bad if you can figure out who they are).

Infoworld on Starbucks/T-Mobile: I've emailed the reporter as two facts are in error: MobileStar's network was never shut down; and there were 500 stores unwired. Today's official announcement boosted the number by 700 stores, but many of those new stores were quietly available in the last few months.

Some Wi-Fi philosophy with your coffee: A brief musing on Wi-Fi's ubiquity, and the right to take bandwidth without knowing where it came from.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:23 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/20/2002

Get the Linksys wireless Wi-Fi access point with 4-port 10/100 Mbps switched Ethernet with free shipping for just 0 or the WAP11 for just from Amazon.com


The above would be a paid, sponsored link if it were an ad. Contact us for more information. Free shipping is for slower, Super Saver method within the US.

New encryption may become Wi-Fi's future: A standard known as CCM developed by Hifn may be the contender for WEP's replacement.

Starbucks announcement speculation and history: This article speculates on what Starbucks, HP, and T-Mobile might be announcing tomorrow (I'm covering it for a newspaper), and discusses the history of the Compaq (now HP) and MobileStar (now T-Mobile Wireless Broadband) partnerships. One analyst quoted performs a backwards reductionist view of T-Mobile's revenue potential: X people with laptops, X percentage of which have Wi-Fi cards, X percent of which go to a Starbucks, X percent of which pay for service. Rather, it's of the people with Wi-Fi cards, which choose specifically to go to Starbucks to use the network and pay for it? That's an additive number, and it could be large.

A few errors: MobileStar only used 802.11 with frequency hopping, a non-Wi-Fi standard, in hotels. Their Starbucks deployment was Wi-Fi (Direct Sequence) from the start. Deutsche Telekom acquired MobileStar's assets, not the company. T-Mobile isn't just running on the 2.4 GHz band in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, but on the same channel as Personal Telco. Users might find themselves by default on Starbucks network only if they don't have an option to choose a network by name. Finally, and this isn't an error, what's the antithesis of a cyber cafe, Mr. Schultz? A place where you pay people to not use their computers?

Slashdot weighs in on community v. Starbucks frequency problems: The discussion degrades into ignorance quite rapidly, but the early posts are excellent examinations of the issue.

David Sifry says Cringely is an idiot: I wouldn't be so direct, but I'll let Sifry speak for himself. Sifry is a techie and a smart guy, and when I talk to him, I hear the light of reason in his voice (as it were). He understands the deep structures of Wi-Fi, and also its business potential.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:45 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/19/2002

Would you like your message here? You can sponsor 802.11b Networking News for a week at a time and reach thousands of daily readers


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Hey, you, get offa my Wi-Fi cloud: Starbucks and Portland, Oregon's community network PersonalTelco are sitting on the same Wi-Fi channel in one area where their networks overlap. This Oregonian story neatly captures the conflicts involved. Of course, one or the other could move without giving up anything but their pride, but principle is involved, and whoever blinks first might find themselves blinking quite rapidly in the future. [via Nigel Ballard]

Starbucks announcement on Wednesday: Starbucks has scheduled a press announcement at 10 am on Wednesday morning, at which time it's expected they, along with T-Mobile, will announce future cities (which apparently include Portland) and plans. HP, Compaq's merger partner, will also be on hand.

Cringely decides Wi-Fi isn't hip because of some anecdotal experiences: Oh, it's rough being fickle, but Cringely uses first-person reasoning to decide that Wi-Fi won't be the big thing. He's so bloody wrong because he's relying on his eyes and fingers instead of talking to the millions of people who are actually using this technology in their homes and offices. It's clear he's off base because he writes things like:

There are real problems with WiFi for home use. It is insecure, for one thing. Yes and no. It's not actually insecure; rather, it's broken because of flaws in the encryption methodology and algorithm. You can break a WEP key, but you need a sufficient amount of data collected to break the key. WEP actually works well enough for home use, and it's subsequent version will, in fact, make it good enough for most SOHO (small office/home office) use as well.

The failure could be laid at a higher layer, too: SSL and similar protocols are available for free or cheap, and some mail servers and clients support them, as well as other protocols. I use SSH, which is a bit techie, to secure my connections when I'm running wireless, but application developers should essentially assume untrusted links and make it a simple option to use SSL over any kind of TCP/IP connection. It's too complicated to install and configure now.

But here's why Wi-Fi really doesn't work, he says: For example, my home network uses wireless access points from Apple, D-Link, and Linksys, and each vendor uses a different WEP access scheme. Running multiple APs with heterogeneous firmware is probably not a routine consumer activity. But even if it were, a little bit of Google research would reveal that they are not using different WEP access schemes. Rather, you have to enter the same key in more or less the same form. If he's got an older Apple AirPort Base Station, it only does 40-bit WEP; 128-bit WEP is not much more secure, if someone really wants to break in and can capture enough data to do so over a reasonable period of time. The Apple Base Station requires a WEP key entered with a dollar-sign ($) in front of it if you're entering hex. The other two APs, as far as my experience with them, use WEP identically.

I guess I object to Cringely suddenly going off Wi-Fi because his experience is too idiosyncratic. If you're going to dismiss one technology in favor of another -- in his case, the HomePlug electrical networking system over Wi-Fi -- then you need to find out whether your problems are generally experienced or not.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:49 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified | 1 Comment

News for 8/16/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Warflying or warstorming: spotting networks from the air: Over Perth, they spotted 90 networks. Does this mean we now need warweatherballoons to mark networks? Jason Jordan wrote to note: I reckon we're the first to brag about going "War Storming". That's a phrase I've coined to describe a combination of war driving and barn storming.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:18 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/16/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


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Slashdot weighs in on FBI's note on warchalking and wardriving: Some comments on the subject.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 5:32 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/16/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Ricochet resurrected: cheaper, more government focused, soon more extensive: In an interesting bit of timing, Aerie Networks has relaunched the Ricochet network in Denver as part of its new rollout. Aerie spent about M to buy B in capital expenses, so let's hope they can make a go of it. The new service rate is /month for unlimited access. The company is pushing the public agency aspect of it by giving Denver piles of free modems in order to keep using the poles and utility locations for their radios, and by emphasizing its utility to government. The next nice step would be an Aerie/Wi-Fi partnership to allow roaming, even with different modems or cards, between Wi-Fi and Ricochet networks. Hello, Boingo?

Ultrawideband's history and future: This in-depth articles from Technology Review analyzes UWB's past and its potential, including problems suggested by others in the industry. (The whole article requires membership or purchase; you can read a brief summary online.)

Interview with Microsoft's mobility group head: The head of Microsoft's mobility group, responsible for the direction of the PocketPC, talks quite a bit about Wi-Fi and Bluetooth's role vis-a-vis mobile devices. Very thoughtful stuff, including the utility of using small devices with lots of network power.

Macintosh Bluetooth mailing list: The coming of OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) also opens the way for full Apple support of many Bluetooth devices. This mailing list could help sort out equipment and pitfalls.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:58 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

Three New A Players

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

News.com reports FCC approval of Cisco, Intersil, and D-Link's 802.11a gear: More players to party, including Intersil's (reference design?) for an 802.11a PC Card.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:39 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

Warchalking on FBI Radar

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Warchalking plus wardriving equals potential warcrime: We'll need a new term, like warjailtime, for someone who combines surveying wireless networks with marking their presence and then using them. I think the FBI agent who wrote this email is entirely reasonable, especially when identifying a widespread survey that might be used by folks other than mere wireless enthusiasts for technical interest.

Note, for instance, the very specific case in which he says that there might be a problem: Identifying the presence of a wireless network may not be a criminal violation, however, there may be criminal violations if the network is actually accessed including theft of services, interception of communications, misuse of computing resources...

One implicit connection should be explicitly severed, though: Wardriving is accomplished by driving around in a vehicle using a laptop computer equipped with appropriate hardware and software...to identify wireless networks used in commercial and/or residential areas. Upon identifying a wireless network, the access point can be marked with a coded symbol, or "warchalked." This symbol will alert others of the presence of a wireless network. It should be clear that many uses of warchalking will identify open community or personal nodes specifically available for sharing.

This shouldn't spread a chill over us: the FBI is a great resource to help businesses and individuals avoid being victims of crime, and their associated cybercrime division, NIPC (National Infrastructure Protection Center) is a good technical and legal resource. What we should do is watch our own activities: are you using resources that don't belong to you? You may still not be violating the law, but there are more eyes watching now.

Give me an A, give me a B, give me a W-E-C-A: News.com's Ben Charny interviews WECA (Wi-Fi's certifying trade assocation) head Dennis Eaton. Eaton runs through a number of the issues confronting future Wi-Fi branding and WECA certification, as well as the state of various 802.11 committees.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:52 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

She Ran Calling Wiiiiiild Fiiiiiire

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Today's titlebar headline is courtesy of Michael Murphy's catchy old song Wild Fire.

What's that giant sucking sound? Another Wi-Fi operator into the cell telco maw: Another sign of things to come (or, rather, things coming) - Australian cell telephone company Telstra purchased SkyNetGlobal's Wi-Fi assets, which comprise about 50 hotel and airport hot spots. SkyNetGlobal was in the cash spiral, although they had had some better news lately, while Telstra had a billion profit last year, according to the article. Back in the days when talk was bigger than action, MobileStar was proud of their roaming agreement with SkyNetGlobal (and vice versa: SkyNetGlobal has a press release on their site still about how they suddenly increased to 500 hot spots worldwide through the partnership). There's no trace on either T-Mobile Wireless Broadband's site or SkyNetGlobal about that partnership now. [via Alan Reiter]

The Associated Press weighs in on a variety of Wi-Fi issues: This overview ranges from the effects of Wi-Fi on cell companies to theft of services to Intel's plans to embed wireless, but all accurate and interesting. [via Alan Reiter]

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:58 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/11/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Warchalking worries security experts: We've gone from idea to whipsaw wild-fire spread to (some?) implementation to fear in just a few weeks. I'm quoted sounding rather sensible in this article.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:26 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/10/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


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Denver airport has free Wi-Fi trial via AT&T Wireless and Nokia: Kevin Werbach, tech policy expert, was in the middle of a coordinated set of attacks by his computer on his sanity when he found the Wi-Fi network alive and free at Denver airport (known as DIA). The airport's PR folks told me that Nokia had fully tested the network in July 2001. They told me this last October through some terse email -- polite to me, but many cc'd individuals, and some obvious exasperation at having a network ready to party and no one to run it, because Nokia couldn't find at a partner at that rough time in wireless ISP history. This may also have something to do with the airport authority's expectation of revenue sharing or minimum upfront franchise buy-in costs. Likewise, Nokia had unwired Vancouver and Ottawa. Their Vancouver partner got out of the business (my last trip up in April showed a network, but no way to get on, but it might have been my personal firewall preventing me as I later figured out in another network situation) and Nokia took it over; Ottawa, they partnered with Sky.Link Internet Plus, a wISP that disappeared over the Net for several months earlier this year but now appears to be back. (Their Calgary airport listing disappeared in the interim, though.)

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:00 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/9/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Tell Me When: contribute to the open-source Wi-Fi timeline with the dates of significant events from the industry or your own organization. The timeline is open source in that anyone can cite it, copy it, add to it; just send me back changes and improvements.

Bob's your Wi-Fi: Mr. Cringely on the exciting future of wireless: Cringe gets the Intel decision wrong, I believe (they announced in March that they were dropping HomeRF from their consumer products), but his thesis is terrific: the combination of disruptive high-speed technologies means more and interesting complications and resources.

Speaking of disruptive, report indicates 3G delays due to Wi-Fi's success: According to this internetnews.com story, US Bancorp Piper Jaffray runs the numbers and explains how Wi-Fi's success has pushed 3G cellular back. The report also contains some interesting numbers about the price elasticity of busines travelers for high-speed access.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:38 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

Wi-Find.com

Announcing Wi-Find.com

Add/Search for Free Wi-Fi HotSpots throughout the USA! - We currently have over 250 free hot spots and are growing every day. List your business that offers free wi-fi and get a months worth of free advertising on our site.

We pride ourselves it not having any pop-ups and only listing those locations that are truly free - so no Boingo and the likes.

Phil Palmieri
Founder, Wi-Find.com

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:19 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

Wi-Fi Timeline

This is the definitive copy of the Wi-Fi Timeline, an open-source collection of the events that define the creation and maturation of the Wi-Fi networking protocol and movement, and related wireless developments. Please submit changes or additions.

Yes, this is sparse. I'm hoping the community jumpstarts entries. Updated March 6, 2002. (Switched to reverse chronological order for better sense.)


2003

Mar. 5: San Francisco International Airport gets unwired. SFO's cord is cut through T-Mobile USA, which plans to offer service throughout all terminal areas by the end of 2003.

February

802.11g's draft 6.1 approved.

2002


Nov. 4: Vivato demonstrates phased-array anntenna. Vivato took the wraps off their secret project, and showed how their antenna and access point solution could light up entire buildings or parts of a city from a single location instead of requiring individual access points densely arrayed.


Oct. 31: WPA to replace WEP as interim step to 802.11i. The Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) as an interim solution for link-layer security based on the work in progress at the IEEE 802.11i task group. WPA fixes most of WEP's fundamental problems, while also requiring 802.1x and EAP support to be baked in. Certification of WPA as part of Wi-Fi is to begin in Feb. 2003; mandatory inclusion is scheduled for fall 2003.


Oct. 14: Boingo Wireless official support for dual mode cards. First card: Proxim's 802.11a/802.11b ComboCard.


Oct. 4: Wi-Fi now includes 802.11a. The newly renamed Wi-Fi Alliance changes the Wi-Fi trademark to serve as an overall symbol of interoperability coupled with specific annotations below the mark on products to say whether they are 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band based.


Oct. 2: WECA changes name to Wi-Fi Alliance. The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance bows to the power of its trademark and changes its name to The Wi-Fi Alliance.


Aug. 5: Proxim completes Orinoco product line acquisition.


June 25: Warchalking coined. Matt Jones combines hobo signs with wardriving to create the term warchalking.


June 17: Proxim to acquire Orinoco product line from Agere.


May 5-10: Newer firmware fixes part of WEP problem. Interop Labs (iLabs) configures and demonstrates cutting-edge interoperable 802.1x solutions at the Networld+Interop trade show in Las Vegas. In the course of configuring demos, the iLabs team finds that recent firmware revisions fix the weak IV problem that allows WEP cracking.


April. Musenki ships beta units. Musenki ships beta embedded Linux units.


Mar. 18: Sky Dayton keynotes CTIA conference. Sharing stage with VoiceStream/T-Mobile CEO John Stanton, Sky predicts that Wi-Fi and 3G will coexist -- "It will be like 'my chocolate fell into your peanut butter.'"


March:


CTIA million-square foot hot spot. CTIA, Boingo, SmartCity and the Orange County Convention Center work together to bring Wi-Fi to the CTIA conference in Orlando. Hot spot encompasses more than one million square feet of wireless access -- believed to be the largest indoor deployment of Wi-Fi to date.


Concourse launches Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Concourse Communications rolls out its first installation.


Zhrodague WiFi Mapserver started. Maps wireless networks to street maps using Netstumbler output.


Feb. 6: 802.1x flaws uncovered. William Arbaugh releases "An Initial Security Analysis of the IEEE

802.1x Security Standard," the first paper to seriously question 802.1x's integrity, including susceptibility to man-in-the-middle attacks, and a lack of a mechanism to certify access points.


Jan. 21: Boingo Wireless launches service. Services launches in hundreds of cafes, airports and hotels. Boingo's smart client software includes automated authentication, built-in database of hot spots, and personal VPN in addition to the sniffing, profile management and a point-and-click interface.


January. Instant802 releases OpenAP. OpenAP is a Linux distribution for select access points.


2001


December. Boingo Wireless announcement. Boingo Wireless announces its existence after several months of secrecy. Boingo owns no hot spots, but has created a client software package to aggregate partner hot spots into a seamless, single sign-on network.


Oct. 11. MobileStar lays off staff according to c|net News.com report. MobileStar lays off staff, keeps network mostly running, puts itself up for sale. A few months later, through a bankruptcy filing, VoiceStream (part of Deutsche Telekom) purchases its assets, and rebrands them T-Mobile Wireless Broadband.


Aug. 20: AirSnort is released.


Aug. 7: Practical demonstration of breaking WEP. Avi Rubin announces that he has been part of a team that has broken WEP, with Adam Stubblefield and John Ioannidis. The paper, AT&T Labs Technical Report TD-4ZCPZZ, is the first dislosed attack against WEP that uses the Fluhrer/Mantin/Shamir attack.


Aug. 1: Breezecom/Floware rebrands as Alvarion.


Early August. RC4 flaw. Fluhrer, Mantin, Shamir stun the world by finding a flaw in the RC4 algorithm that leads to a devastating attack against WEP. Their research is published as "Weaknesses in the Key Scheduling Algorithm of RC4" and is presented to the 8th Annual Workshop on Selected Areas in Cryptography.


July 16-21: At the 7th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, a team of researchers from Berkeley (Nikita Borisov, Ian Goldberg, and David Wagner) publish the first serious paper that receives a great deal of press attention about problems with WEP, titled "Intercepting Mobile Communications: The of 802.11."


July 9: BB2W files for bankruptcy.


June. 802.1x ratified.


Apr. 12: Wardriving coined. Peter Shipley or Kevin Poulson coins the term and starts the wardriving craze.


Apr. 16. BB2W's Airora launch. BB2W launches Airora service in Boston with broad 1.5 Mbps service area claims, and a migration path to 54 Mbps. /month and a 0 antenna with a one-year service commitment.


April. BreezeCOM and Floware unite in a merger of equals in a 9M stock swap.


Mar. 30: Early academic study of Wi-Fi/WEP weaknesses. Bill Arbaugh and two students publish "Your 802.11 Wireless Network Has No Clothes," one of the first academic studies of 802.11 .


Mar. 21: Nokia launches 11 Mbps gear.


Mar. 5: Broadband2Wireless coverage: wireless access from cars.


Feb. 21: New York Times Circuits cover story on public space wireless ISPs. Wi-Fi blogger Glenn Fleishman authors an enormous piece on wireless ISPs. Several of the companies mentioned disappear over the next six months.


Feb. 5: Cisco completes acquisition of Radiata. They have been silent ever since.


February. Boingo Wireless founded by Sky Dayton under the code name "Project Mammoth." Sky founded EarthLink in 1993 after 80 frustrating hours trying to set up his first wired Internet connection. After a similarly frustrating experience with Wi-Fi, Sky pursues a vision of making Wi-Fi hot spots ubiquitous and easy to access.


January. Musenki founded. Their goal is to build open-source wireless networking equipment.


Starbucks picks MobileStar as wireless partner. Starbucks announces that MobileStar will build out all of its freestanding stores over about three years.


2000


December. AerZone shuts down. AerZone, a contender for the leading airport hot spot wireless ISP, shuts down despite signed contracts to offer service at United and Delta waiting areas, and across certain major airports. The parent company cites a concern about raising funding, and also puts Laptop Lanes on the block, a company they'd acquired in early 2000.


Cisco finalizes Aironet acquisition.


Nov. 13: Cisco announces acquisition of Radiata.


October. WEP failure. As part of the standards process, Jesse Walker of Intel publishes "Unsafe at any key size; an analysis of the WEP encapsulation." It is document 802.11-00/362 (select year 2000, document 362 from here).


1999


December. Early 802.11 engineering book published. IEEE Press publishes "IEEE 802.11 Handbook: A Designer's Companion" by Bob O'Hara and Al Petrick.


Nov. 9: Aironet to be acquired by Cisco.


Sept. 14: Nokia unwires N+I. Nokia unwires Network+Interop.


Summer.


Apple AirPort. Apple Computer using Lucent Technologies Orinoco (formerly WaveLAN) equipment becomes the first operating system maker to include support for Wi-Fi, which they call AirPort. Apple also ships the necessary hardware for clients for 0 a pop, and the AirPort Base Station, an access point, for 0, a price they maintain until 2002 through a single product revision.


Spring.


Wayport switches to Aironet. Wayport begins swapping out to Aironet 11 Mbps gear.


Feb. 18: Nokia acquisition. Nokia announces InTalk acquisition.


January. Pittsburgh's wireless community network founded.


1998


Sept. 27: Wayport's funding. Wayport gets Series A funding.


1997


June. 802.11 finalized. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) finalized the initial standard for wireless LANs, IEEE 802.11. This standard specified a 2.4GHz operating frequency with data rates of 1 and 2Mbps. When deploying a wireless LAN using the initial version of 802.11, you could opt for using frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) or direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS). Since the ratification of the initial 802.11 standard, the IEEE 802.11 Working Group (WG) has made several revisions through various task groups.


Spring.


Wayport's first hotel. All back-ends built on Linux; system uses Breezecom frequency hopping. The hotel had all wired rooms, with wireless in the lobby and bar area.


1996


Spring.

Wayport incorporates.


1995


Wayport/MobileStar predecessor founded. Plancom, Wayport and MobileStar's predecessor, founded with the intent to offer public space wireless access.


1993


Wayport's genesis. Idea for Wayport occurred to Brett Stewart while he was working at AMD after a licensing deal with Xircom for what became the original 802.11 MAC technology.


Contributors (remove arglebargle and a dot from their addresses to email them): Kem McClelland, Musenki, Inc.; Drew, Wireless Anarchy; Alexander S. Curtis; Matthew Gast; Drew of Zhrodague; Christian Gunning, Boingo Wireless; Glenn Fleishman, Editor, 802.11b Networking News


This page is licensed under the GNU General Public License This means that it's not public domain, but rather any changes to the timeline must be folded back in to the main project by being emailed back to me. Likewise, any research I do will get folded into the definitive version. Anyone can reprint the timeline as long as they include a reference to the definitive page in this form: "This timeline is an open-source project maintained at http://80211b.weblogger.com/wifi_timeline.html." If the timeline moves, there will be sufficient notice for the new URL. If you have questions about how this works, email the timeline maintainer, Glenn Fleishman.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:39 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified | 1 Comment

News for 8/8/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Open source Wi-Fi timeline: All of our memory is better than some of our memories. Thus I am starting the open-source Wi-Fi timeline project: it's got a modest goal - establishing the definitive dates and events along the history of 802.11b and related wireless specifications to the present. I realized in trying to put one together that many of the dates are hard won information, or require reading hundreds of press releases for me, but would be top-of-mind for others.

The open-source deal is this: I will retain the copyright for the work and offer it under the GNU General Public License. The GPL isn't exactly open source, but rather defines the terms under which a work must be collaboratively shared, and that no fee is required to use it, nor can anyone take it private. The GPL allows a creator to maintain rights in the work that open it up to all users. It's not public domain, but rather any changes to the timeline must be folded back in to the main project by being emailed back to me. Likewise, any research I do will get folded into the definitive version. Anyone can reprint the timeline as long as they reference the license or the definitive page. If you're putting together a book or a Web site, you can always use the timeline free of charge forever. If you research materials using the timeline as the basis, then you need to contribute the results of the research (individual events) back into the pool.

Start emailing me events. Try to include a title, the date (month and year at least), and the importance of the event. This could include the founding of a company like Wayport or Sputnik, the release of a protocol, or a defining event like the RC4 weakness paper.

An empty box containing only snake oil: In talking with colleagues in the last few weeks, we all agreed that there's a rise in the potential-snake-oil segment of the wireless industry. The story cited above was reported back in May 2002, and it's a good one to recollect: a cleverly handled demo fooled technical people who weren't able to touch the hardware. To quote Harry Potter's friend's father's advice, "Never trust anything that thinks for itself, unless you can see it's brain." Show me the hardware (and the FCC license)! Or better yet, show it to an independent testing lab.

Wi-Fi Radio, Radio: Doc Searls wants his: Doc wants a Wi-Fi radio that can handle audio broadcasts.

Rabbit Ears? Hammer Down! Nigel Ballard of the Joejava Wireless Consultancy once testified about the UK Rabbit service, discussed yesterday, an early mobile phone service that required proximity to a very few branded transceivers. Nigel wrote: You failed to mention the reason Rabbit failed, and it is so clear and obvious, it needs to be told. Rabbit was one-way! You could call out, but NOBODY could call you! Ha ha ha.


Up, up in the air in my beautiful solar-powered transceiver plane: Solar-powered transmission of 3G/UMT cell phone signals and HDTV were proven to work in tests of a solar-powered plane. This idea is gaining frequency (as it were) as a way to deal with final mile issues: everyone could have line of sight to a plane. [via Boing Boing]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:26 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/7/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


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There will always be an England; or, Rabbit Redux: The BBC notes that an early, short-range, mobile phone service called Rabbit flopped. The ties between Rabbit and Wi-Fi hot spots appear limited to metaphor, though, as Rabbit was probably killed by ubiquitous mobile phone service. Wi-Fi hot spots could suffer from ubiquitous 3G high-speed cell data networks, except that 3G is still a pipe dream that is only slowly showing the first parts of its potential. (3G is shared bandwidth, people!) Even ultimately, Wi-Fi is cheaper and easier to build out blanket coverage than 3G could ever be partly because of the expectation of service.

Virtual balloons fall from the ceiling: Wayport tops 1 million connections: it sounds like marketing news, but it's actually a good milestone, especially since we know that Wayport charges about per session in airports and per day (with partnership split) in hotels. These hard numbers help refute a bit of the analyst's suppositions in the previous paragraph. (By the way, I paid for .0005% of that million.) [via Jacques Caron]

A Yankee Group analyst quoted in the article noted something that I think is invalidated by market research of travelers: [Adam] Zawel was also sceptical about the potential audience for such wireless services. The numbers of businessmen using data services on the move was low at the moment and was unlikely to be boosted by the creation of point specific services, he said. I hope this was misquoted or out of context, because it's clear that millions of business travelers use a variety of data services, focused on dial-up because of its availability. It's clear that when high-speed data service is available, business travelers flock to it; education about hot spots and how to connect appears to me to be the bigger block than an audience traveling with the right equipment. [via Slashdot -- good discussion]

Spring's 1xRTT service: Alan Reiter provides his usual detailed and cogent analysis of Sprint's data cell service rollout asking the right questions about what their advertising means, what their service really is, and what the actual costs entail. It's amazing to me that businesses think they can offer services without showing prices and assume that customers will roll over and just pay when they get the price tag. Retail shows that you need to show people the price and tell them that it's on sale or at a discount: only then are they motivated to plunk money down and buy.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:16 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/6/2002

Today's 802.11b Networking News is sponsored by the home address for Wi-Fi and mobile data in the Bay Area: BayMobile.com


The above is a paid, sponsored link. Contact us for more information.

Kermit sings a different tune: Rainbow disconnection?: A reporter tries to nail down the New York Times story of a few weeks ago of a grand alliance for a national Wi-Fi/cell convergence network involving Cingular, Intel, and other players. He gets nowhere, and concludes that if the alliance exists beyond hype, it may be much farther off than suggested. (The other option, I hate to say, is that the Times reporter has sources deep inside these firms willing to talk more openly -- or to hype more openly.)

Balticization of Wi-Fi: The city of Tallinn, Estonia, is full of Wi-Fi. A beautiful sentence ends the home page, describing Wi-Fi's appeal: That’s the good thing about compelling technology: you don’t have to think too much about it. We did. It’s that simple, and it works. Estonia has a warm spot in my heart because it is a hop, skip, and a Latvia away from my father's grandparents' homeland: Lithuania. [via Warchalking]

Mac legend Andy Ihnatko weighs in on warchalking: Andy's a very funny guy but also has a great perspective. About warchalking, he focuses on the community it could help create. (Amusingly, too, Andy's name is misspelled in the byline as Ihntako. There's nobody in the computer industry whose name is as often and inconsistently misspelled.) [via Warchalking]

Canary song: connecting islands: Alejandro Camara Acevedo wrote in noting that a 70.5 kilometer (km) link was just established on Aug. 3 between Tenerife and Gran Canaria i the Canary Islands, which is part of Spain. His email noted that this link beat previous records in Spain (not sure who is tracking these records) of 35 km and then 54 km, the latter broken by the ACRI (Asociación Canaria de Redes Inalámbrica or Canarian Asociation of Wireless Networks) just a few weeks ago. The event was marked with a video conference using a 1 Mbps streaming connection, although Sr. Acevedo noted that two days earlier, a 5.5 Mbps streaming connection worked. (This seems problematic: I'm not sure you can actually get more than 4 Mbps throughput even on two devices sitting next to each other.)

Sr. Acevedo writes, The hardware used during the event was 1 Dell and 1 Asus computer laptop both with D-Link wireless cards and two 24db grid antennas. He adds, The world record was organized by a party of Internet users belonging to ACRI and a group of Linux users that happened to be in a computer congress in Gran Canaria. The association's aim is to link all seven Canary Islands with wireless technology; a backbone is being built at the moment and several access points are already active.

A Bluetooth-like Wi-Fi device for serial connections: Perhaps they didn't get the memo, but OTC Wireless is introducing late this year a Wi-Fi serial replacement. Ostensibly, you plug the Wi-Fi device in on one end, although the article makes it send like you might need to attach one to either end. No pricing is noted. The company says zero configuration, so what happens when you have two of these devices running? A Bluetooth serial adapter would solve the same problem more gracefully, but doesn't come with the distance (perhaps ever) or ubuiquity (yet).

The latest ocean piracy: Bernie Dunham, the fellow behind the MacMania Geek Cruises's Wi-Fi network on the Holland-America Line's Volendam, reports in the third person on his blog about the Royal Carribean line's sudden change of heart regarding his use of Wi-Fi for his Wi-Fi 2002 training cruise. Bernie notes quite lucidly and objectively that although the cruise line is citing security concerns in not allowing him to use his networking equipment (for which he is paying hefty satellite access fees), they will be offering their own branded, fee-based service.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 6:33 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/5/2002

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Proxim completes Agere product line acquisition: It's just plain old business news, but it's part of a big change ahead for Proxim: Proxim Corporation (Nasdaq: PROX), a leading manufacturer of wireless networking equipment, today completed its previously announced acquisition of Agere Systems' 802.11 wireless local area networking (WLAN) equipment business, including the award-winning ORiNOCO (R) product line, for million in cash.

Proxim has made big pushes in HomeRF (the real force behind it) and 802.11a and b, with some early excellent 802.11a products. Acquiring the Agere Orinoco line means that they acquire a relationship with Apple Computer, a company to which Agere has been supplying AirPort chipsets and technology. Proxim has been a long-time Apple equipment maker, but never an OEM to the company.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:13 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

Public WiFi Trailer to Roam Desert

Late this August, a trailer loaded with wireless equipment and a crew of altrustic hackers are going to drive up to the temporary autonomous zone, city, and art festival known as Burning Man. From August 26th through September 2nd, the project known as the Roam-Net Public Access Trailer seeks to provide public terminals to the 27,000 person event. In the future, the trailer will visit remote locations, schools, and other events to either expand or create wireless community networks. This group of hackers seek to push the limits of wearable, nomadic, and wireless computing by using exisiting and custom built open source software with donated hardware. If interested in joining this group, or to invite the trailer to your area, please contact nym at .

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:41 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/3/2002

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Der Ur-Übergeeks: These folks at LanWa[h]n appear to have taken a heaping mess of laptops and other equipment and performed intercar Wi-Fi back in May. They have more laptops than the O'Reilly-article-writing guys, too. The LanWa[h]n title is a German joke on LAN/WAN (local/wide area network) combined with Wahn, which means delusion. There's no clever translation into English that I can think of. There's also the resonance with Autobahn to Wahn. [via a post to this Slashdot thread]

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:41 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/2/2002

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And the Award for Wi-Fi Geek Cred for 2002 Goes to...: Four guys. Two cars. A cell phone. Some laptops. And Wi-Fi. Man, they beat me to it: I've been contemplating this idea for a year, and I should have just done it. En route to a conference, these four gentleman used a combination of off-the-shelf, easy-to-configure hardware and a variety of relatively straightforward software to create a two-car mobile Wi-Fi network with a cell uplink.

It's an amusing story, but it'll get better. When cars start getting prewired for network access, this kind of story will be commonplace. (Okay, maybe not the Wi-Fi hub strapped to the center storage area.) Automobile makers will certainly opt for Bluetooth as a main driver of built-in Car Area Networking. With always-on/on-demand connections, a mobile worker could step into their car (or even reach the vicinity) and have queued and inbound email start their merry dance with no intervention. If you spend a few hours a day in a car for work, a low-speed GSM or GPRS connection is no hindrance: it sends enough, fast enough.

Better yet, when you pull up to a long stoplight, the system automatically spots and connects to the Wi-Fi network in the area, reinitializes your VPN, and sends data quite fast until you start moving out of range again.

It's not science fiction. It just requires a few connective pieces that are on the way.

Expert, in-depth analysis of UWB's near-term future: A truly superb piece explaining the past, present, and near-term future of ultrawideband (UWB). UWB has the potential to displace or replace 802.11 family protocols, but there's a lot of work between here and there.

Kevin Werbach buys a loaf of bread: the reference is obscure (see David Ives's All in the Timing), but Kevin makes an interesting point about Wi-Fi density in San Francisco and the loss of revenue opportunity for T-Mobile/Starbucks. Starbucks can be as excited as they want about Wi-Fi, but given their real-estate guidelines, they may find that free and cheap networks abound wherever they set down.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 9:02 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified | 1 Comment

Limits of a wireless access point??

What is a realistic number for the amount of simultaneous connections to a Wireless Access Point? And does a wireless access card provide just one connection?

I am looking to set up a wireless network in my neighbourhood, but am not sure about what kind of hardware I need to be using.

Harold

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 5:41 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

News for 8/1/2002

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Welcome to August: and to all my friends in Europe, enjoy your month off.

Intersil boosts and cleans amplification: According to this News.com story, Intersil is releasing a new set of Wi-Fi power amplifiers that offer greater range (15 percent, they state) and a cleaner signal at the edge. The technical specs are in Intersil's press release.

Bluetooth about to emerge with Apple, Microsoft support: It's the operating system, stupid, to paraphrase the 1992 Clinton campaign. For all of the Bluetooth industry's prognostications, the plain fact was that with competing stacks, non-standard interfaces, and conflicting applications, Bluetooth was going nowhere until we had OS integration. Apple comes first with an impression array of integration, previously discussed; Microsoft lags, but they have every reason to wait and not trendset. Better Microsoft chooses correctly, because they can't mid-course correct as easily as Apple can.

Note also how casual the Bluetooth folk are about certifying interoperable: it's more like the regular meetings of Esperanto speakers arguing on the fine points of the language -- or perhaps Unitarians -- than, say, the Academie Français. That is, certification to Bluetooth is left up the individual company's testing procedures. This is unfortunate, as the Wi-Fi mark has been one of the single biggest factors in coalescing the 802.11b protocol into something that businesses and consumers can rely on. Bluetooth will sputter if interoperability certification doesn't become one of the requirements of the mark. No consumer will want to use Bluetooth if buying two or more identically marked devices doesn't offer complete intercompatibility.

In fact, a simple prediction is that if Bluetooth SIG sticks by their lack of a certification program, they will ultimately be force to create one, or see market forces develop a new mark based on the 802.15.2 PAN subset of Bluetooth. Bluetooth SIG members will still get licensing fees from 802.15.2 devices, but the Bluetooth mark will get relegated to a backwater and a new mark that works will rise. The market essentially assures this. (Also, Microsoft and Apple's standardization on a stack will force compatibility, too: no Bluetooth device could survive in the market without working with at least MS and hopefully Apple's stacks.)

Yesterday, I received a Cingular-activated Sony Ericsson T68i Bluetooth-equipped phone on loan along with an HBH-30 Bluetooth headset. It took a few tries to get all my ducks in a row, partly because of an odd entry interface on the phone: when it asks you to enter your password to pair (or associate together) a Bluetooth device with the phone, the phone displays asterisks instead of characters. This would be fine, although who is really staring over your shoulder at that point, but there are at least three methods of entering characters into the phone, which the manual helpfully and obscurely explains. I still can't figure out which mode I'm using to enter the Bluetooth password. (I'll be calling Sony Ericsson on that, of course, to find out the answer.)

But the system is pretty amazing. Discovery works just fine, and I was able to get the phone and my Mac talking to each other, and set up the Bluetooth headset. The headset has the generic code of 0000 for its pairing password, which is fine because you have to put the headset into a specially invoked mode to associate with it. Because every Bluetooth device has a unique device number, just like every Wi-Fi and Ethernet device, this association is unique and someone can't (ostensibly) hijack your headset.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:44 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Unclassified

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