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Wireless Networking Debian The Internet Hardware

Australia's Great Linux-Based Satellite Network 170

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-a-network-that's-a-network dept.
yBshy4 writes "This article may interest the Slashdot folk. LinuxWorld Australia is reporting on Australia's largest satellite network, covering some 800,000 square kilometres, or most of the state of New South Wales, has gone live. The network consists of 75 Linux-based satellite routers that provide Wi-Fi (802.11b) connectivity to country towns that are unable to get DSL. The routers are engineered by Ursys and run Debian providing gateway services such as DNS and mail. According to the article, Ursys chose Debian 'because of its packaging support, which facilitates the ability to push updates to the routers remotely.' Ursys tried to use Windows but it was 'too unstable.' Hopefully this is an important step to providing better Internet access to regional areas across Australia. Anyone know of similar Internet access projects around the world?"
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Australia's Great Linux-Based Satellite Network

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  • by irokitt (663593) <archimandrites-iaur.yahoo@com> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:27AM (#8723107)
    "$3500 per month for 1GB per month"
    Now surely that's in Australian currency, but that still sounds expensive to me.
    • $3,500au=$2,658.50us or 2,171.13 euros. Pretty pricy
      • At least it's cheaper and faster than DSL. It probably pings better too.
        • by pe1chl (90186) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:06AM (#8723269)
          Depends on what DSL you have, and what you call "better".

          Here in the Netherlands, standard DSL service via the ex-state-monopoly DSL provider pings at about 10ms nationally and 160ms to the USA (west coast).

          This is not bad and completely unachievable via satellite, because of laws of physics.

          For any geostationary satellite solution you need to add 260ms for one-way and double that for two-way solutions, plus any delays incurred by time-division multiplexing (if applicable).
          That is a huge increase compared to the above numbers.

          The only satellite solution that can be faster is a LEO constellation.
          • 1) I was being completely scarcastic referencing the silly high prices for DSL here in the USA and the crappy ping times they provide. I can understand how I was misunderstood.

            2) The article refers to satellite WAP access with b speed wireless. Not actual satellites.
      • Very true. Australian bandwidth stinks. Sure, the Southern Cross Cable [southerncrosscables.com] linking Oceania with the U.S is pretty phat, but it's costs are too big. ISP's here tend to run transparent proxies (I have a ADSL ISP blacklist of ISP's I won't go with for that reason. At least my dialup ISP, iPrimus [iprimus.com.au] isn't stupid enough) in order to keep costs down. Well, instead of trying to cut costs on the ISP side, why don't they try to make Australian->US bandwidth less expensive?

        It's probably cheaper to dump a server in a US [theplanet.com]
        • by obeythefist (719316) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:02AM (#8723250) Journal
          Hello, welcome to the internet.

          The reason US traffic (and most internet) costs are so high for Australian users, besides Telstra of course, is that US companies expect Australia to bear the cost of both incoming and outgoing traffic to the USA. This is standard US policy.

          Thanks for coming along, we hope you enjoy your stay here. Unless you aren't american.
          • by Jack Porter (310054) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:12AM (#8723295)
            Yeah, that policy sure seems to be affecting the 50Mbps internet connection I have at my apartment here in Seoul, South Korea.

            I have no bandwidth limits and it costs me about $US30 a month. There is a transproxy in the middle for HTTP, but I can still BitTorrent at 500KB-1MB/second. And for HTTP stuff that hits the transproxy cache, I regularly get 4-5 MegaBYTES a second.

            I'm an Australian who's been living in the US and now Korea. The price of wholesale bandwidth in the Australia is insane and has barely decreased in the 5 years since I left...
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:32AM (#8723532)
              Or, in other words, we have a nice duopoly (Optus and Telstra, with Telstra doing most of the running these days, it would appear), where the incentive is to keep prices nice and high to have a nice high revenue stream. The barrier to entry is high -- have you tried running an undersea cable across the Pacific lately? -- so the risk of competition undercutting the prices is fairly low.

              As you can see [whirlpool.net.au], Telstra recently dropped its retail pricing rates below its wholesale pricing levels. This caused a major ruckus in the telecommunications industry, and a competition notice from the ACCC. As far as I can tell, Telstra does the bare minimum it can to keep the ACCC off its back, whilst slugging Australian users as much as it can get away with.

              Case in point: one big problem with Bigpond (aka Bigpong in some circles), and the reason I would never take up an account with them, is that you are charged for both download AND upload traffic. This has resulted in more than a few stories of thousand dollar plus (including at least one in the multiples of thousand dollars) bills in a month from P2P traffic (amongst other things).

              Telstra. "This is your monopoly calling." *spit*

              • by SlightOverdose (689181) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @07:07AM (#8724018)
                Not to mention telstra's new cheap broadband plan has a 200mb download limit, after which you are charged 0.15c/mb. Off the top of my head that comes to something like a possible monthly usage bill of over $24,000 for a 512k plan. And yes, this has happened in the past and telstra has sent debt collection agencies after every last cent, even when the traffic was generated by worms.

                This from the same company that advertises "cheap" mobile phone calls for only 25c- a quick glance and you think 25c per minute, but no, it's 25c per 30 seconds. And of course that rate is only available sometimes (i.e. "Never"). The normal rate turns out to be $1/minute.

                On top of the .25c call connection fee.

                So instead of the nice cheap .25c/minute you think your getting, your actually paying four times that. Plus the cost of your monthly mobile phone rental. All because of deceptive advertising.

                They force people into 24 month plans with exceptionally good deals and change the plan halfway through (uncapped, unmetered 10mbit cable for $69/month. Until we decide to cap it at 10gigs. And have "technical errors" slowing the network 70% of the time. And oops, our mail servers don't work. Sorry about that. We don't care- your stuck on this crap for 2 years)

                If you took Microsoft, Real, SCO, De Beers, and the Russian Mafia, and rolled them all into one big monopoly, they would still be less evil than telstra.
              • Or, in other words, we have a nice duopoly (Optus and Telstra, with Telstra doing most of the running these days, it would appear)

                What about PowerTel's entry in to the market? I know they provide a feed to Macquarie (in adition to Optus) for example. Still, the biggest complaint I hear from IT peers downunder is the lack of choice for providers.
            • Can I sleep on your couch? I'm clean and can cook ramen. I also have a special way to do laundry that saves time. I put it all in togather.
            • Of course the US and Australia both share the same primary language which results in far more US traffic than South Korea. Add in the people per capita, Telstra [bigpond.com] and South Korea's pro broadband government and that explains bandwidth costs in Australia.

              Of course the price of bandwidth has resulted in a lot of peering exchanges [waia.asn.au] meaning that while I can only download 8 gig of "premium" data a month on my 512 account, my ISP [iinet.net.au] lets me download from itself and other peered ISP's in my state for free.
            • A lot of the reason you have a great link is because the US probably isn't trying to charge SK for both ingoing and outgoing traffic. Of course, as I said earlier, besides telstra.
          • I would say more correctly that Telstra is dumb in general. If you were to meet magor ISP in the US in multiple places and source and sync a decent ammount of traffic they could become a tier 1 and stop paying for bandwith. But considering that Telstra seems to refuse to have a real network and try to mess up the worlds BGP tables to avoid it I doubt that will happen. If you dont know what I mean Telstra used to public 30k+ routes to the internet basicaly trying to avoid backhauling any customer data. T
        • I can get 2mb 1:1 from Melbourne from a number of providers for AU$3000/mo including tail charges. The costs of the .5 km to the major link is about $800/mo of it. Once your on the top end of filling up a T3, your up for about AU$200 per megabit (vs $150/mb in the US). On top of that I can get a 622 mb fiber link thanks to NDC & Telstra for about $3k/mo between to points in the cbd. The reason bandwidth costs so much is not enough people push the price down.
    • plus 1GB is an annoying amount of data.

      far too much for "just emailing the family".

      far too little for downloads.
      • For 200 bucks you can get an apacer 1gig ht202 thumbdrive and fill it up with shit and freaking mail it to your family members, then keep mailing it back and forth.
      • Indeed, i've found (working at an isp) that 99.5% of people with broadband use less than 500 meg a month. Ah well, they got to make their money somehow.
      • ...but enough to allow a remote community to access the internet for moderate email and web access, considering the only other choices are an ISDN line (hideously enxpensive to install, considering the distances involved to the end users) or a modem at 9600 baud (which is all a lot of the rural lines can handle; some won't even go above 2400)

        Besides which, it's likely that the data is billed as .35c/MB. A few years back I worked in satellite networking, and that is how all the providers charges for data.
    • Quoth irokitt:
      "$3500 per month for 1GB per month" Now surely that's in Australian currency, but that still sounds expensive to me.
      Even for Australian currency ($1 AUD ~= $0.75 USD), that's bloody expensive.
      Considering that most broadband plans here cost between $50 and $100 dollars a month, this is very, very pricey.
    • by Agent Orange (34692) <christhom@CHEETAHgmail.com minus cat> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:39AM (#8723169)
      It is very expensive, no matter what currency it's in. Standard cable/broadband connections cost somewhere between $40-80/month, with transfer caps of 500MB - a couple GB/month. Plus there's all the usual jockeying with numbers, rolling over bandwidth and the games you'd expect. But this is a satellite-based service, so you're paying for the infrastructure.

      Looks like they're using ISDN for upstream and satellite for downstream - did I read this right?

      It's a shame they can't leverage the bandwidth of AARNET, which has fibre running right down the newell highway (N-S in country NSW). This is academic stuff and I wouldn't expect that the economics would add up in country NSW for commerical ventures - just not enough people care about the internet there.
      • by Some Guy in Canada (758074) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:16AM (#8723313)
        It's a shame they can't leverage the bandwidth of AARNET, which has fibre running right down the newell highway (N-S in country NSW). This is academic stuff and I wouldn't expect that the economics would add up in country NSW for commerical ventures - just not enough people care about the internet there.
        That's a similar problem with getting commercial providers to bring internet out to the many rural areas of my province (Alberta, Canada). But the government is currently installing a massive fibre network to all schools and gov't offices (even the tiny hicktowns), and when it's done commercial ISPs will be able to hook in. Already there are companies preparing to use this to offer dsl/cable in small towns.
      • Wasn't AARNET sold to Telstra?

        From my understanding, AARNET rapes universities by charging for traffic. (According to an e-mail I received from the central IT management at a uni I was working at a couple of years ago.)
        • No. From it's website: "AARNet Pty Ltd (APL) is the company that operates Australia's Research and Education Network (AREN). It is a not-for-profit company limited by shares. The shareholders are 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO."

          AARNET provides all the internal infrastructure for the universities (and CSIRO). Well, not quite true. Each state has a regional network organisation (RNO) which runs the state network. These are connected through some dedicated fibres and private virtual circuits (PV
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, it's at least as expensive as GPRS (~2.1e/MB).
    • by gassendi (93677) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:12AM (#8723296)
      I think it's just badly written. My take on it is that it's bandwidth not download limits. So it's probably 1 gigabit connection. The article says "can be shared between 12 to 20 people for "normal" Web access". I suppose 1/20th of a gigabit connection is "normal" access.

      Also if you look at http://www.nswnet.net/rurallink/costs/
      you'll see they quote AUD$189.00 for a 1GB download limited connection.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I moved to Australia 2 months ago, and New South Wales is pretty much useless when it comes to internet, DSL is expensive as hell, and you probably end up with a 200MB download limit per month. If you are really lucky, pay lots of $$$ and signs up for 12 months, then you might get 1 GB per month.. thats about what Im used to downlading i one night on my ADSL line back home..
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Errr, I'm on 1500/256 ADSL and I get 16GB/month download allowance (which is MORE than I'll ever need) and I pay $89/month, oh, and it's a month-to-month contract. Where did you get your information from? Even with other ISPs like TPG you can get a flat-rate 512/128 connection for less than what I pay. Where abouts in America are you from?
      • I don't know which ISP you're with, but I'm on 1500/256 for AU$80. After you hit your 10GB limit, you're just bandwidth shaped to 72kb/s rather than charged per MB. I lived in Boston last year and this was pretty comparable to what I was paying there.

        This is who I'm with - iinet [iinet.net.au]
    • But the article says:

      "The satellite data service costs $3500 per month for 1GB per month and can be shared between 12 to 20 people for "normal" Web access."

      3500/20 = 175 AUDs = 120 USD. This figure still looks expensive for just 1 GB traffic. But maybe an upgrade might be not to expensive.

      All in all

      "The Rural Link network is intended for country community groups, health facilities and council and community technology centres ..."

      So it's not sold to the individual consumer but to public/private org

    • I can safely say that it is supposed to be $35.00 instead of $3500.

      A mere typo. AUD$35/month for 1gb sounds about right according to telstra's new rates.
    • by Marlor (643698) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:05AM (#8723822)
      "$3500 per month for 1GB per month"
      Now surely that's in Australian currency, but that still sounds expensive to me.


      From what I can see, $3,464 is the annual cost for an entire town to join the RuralLink network. It would be expected that the costs would then be dispersed among "member institutions" within the town (e.g. schools, libraries, and other public institutions).

      Once it is shared across a group of institutions, the cost is not all that prohibitive, although it is $171 per month extra for a 3 gigabyte limit, and $150 per gigabyte after that.

      Also, the usage is subsidised so that it is virtually free for the first year, and significantly cheaper for two years after that.

      This is not targetted at home users. It is for small towns who currently have no other option than dial-up. It is certainly expensive compared to what is available in most parts of Australia, but there are few other options available for institutions in "outback" towns to get high-speed internet.

      More pricing information is available here [nswnet.net]
    • The article is wrong, the AU$3,500 is an annual figure for 1GB of data per month including the Linux router and network management.

      see NSW Net Costs document [nswnet.net]

      Still not cheap but OK for remote rural areas that can't get ADSL. Note the Linux router suppliers make a good proportion of it ($1K pa).

      Cheers
      VikingBrad

  • by frs_rbl (615298) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:28AM (#8723109) Journal
    Wake me up when Linux is running on the satellites
  • Damn (Score:5, Funny)

    by TechnologyX (743745) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:29AM (#8723117) Journal
    "Ursys tried to use Windows but it was 'too unstable.'"
    Good thing, that would have been one big ass Clippy to deal with.
    • Re:Damn (Score:2, Funny)

      by ideatrack (702667)
      I can imagine the issues they were having:

      "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that".

      *Frantically hits the escape key*.
      • Re:Damn (Score:3, Funny)

        by TechnologyX (743745)
        "I see you are trying to link to a $20,000,000 satellite, would you like help with that?"
        *Yes I would*
        Windows has encountered a problem and needs to shutdown
        Any work not saved may be lost. We are sorry for any inconvenience
    • It doesn't take a genius to understand that they did not try to use Windows. This remark was included simply because remarks like that are required in any article representing Linux in positive light. They were either asked to say that "Windows was too unstable" or did that on their own accord. It doesn't really matter.
      • because remarks like that are required in any article representing Linux in positive light.

        And then, just like any good Linux 'Zine, you sell the advertising space on the page to...Microsoft.

        Did anyone else find it strange that Linuxworld Australia sold all the ads on that page to Microsoft?
  • $3500/GB? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by gid13 (620803)
    Yeep. Seems a little pricey to me.
    • 1 USD == 1.31639 AUD

      It's a veritable bargain at $2,658.79 US!

    • Bandwidth in Australia is very expensive compared to the US regardless of how you get it. Its still billed by the meg in a lot of places.

      I have dedicated servers colocated in New Jersey and in Sydney. In the US I pay $2.00US/gb for bandwidth, in Australia I pay $0.09cAU/mb ($0.06US/mb) which is $60US/gb.
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:30AM (#8723123)
    For sure, outback australia has some real problems getting internet access. Everyone has moaned to Telstra for ages about this, so it's good to see soemthing get done about it.

    Australia likes the idea of wireless.... or at least we don't want to have to look at masses of wires all over our skyline.

    There was a broadband cable rollout some years back, and a lot of residents complained that the extra overhead cable would wreck their view and lower their houses values due to the nasty look of an extra cable floating above them. Several local councils petitioned to have the cables dug underground, but after a feasibility test was done, putting the cables underground was found to be too expensive.... so the phone company did nothing in those areas. Now the local governments that protested the cable roll-out are all stuck using dial-up modems.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There was a broadband cable rollout some years back, and a lot of residents complained that the extra overhead cable would wreck their view and lower their houses values due to the nasty look of an extra cable floating above them.

      The Australian Federal Goverment decided not to step in to force Telstra to share it's cable with Optus. So Optus ran their own cable right next to the Telstra cable. Our street has two overhead cables.

      And now roughly 80% of Australians have coverage twice, whilst the remaing 2
    • Well they did drop the price of adsl ports by 40% today. Thats a significant step for internet access in oz!
    • Too many goverments around the world seem to thing that they're doing businesses a favor by allowing them to operate. When they place undue restrictions upon those businesses, the citizenry loses out.

      LK
    • "or at least we don't want to have to look at masses of wires all over our skyline." They still don't have power in australia yet?
  • by Quebst (263980) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:34AM (#8723145) Homepage
    I have heard of this also happening in parts of South America and, I think, Africa. But this leads to another question.

    Is this sort of access going to be used in the US? I live in a rural area, and I cannot live on a farm and have DSL or cable. The only access I could use outside of town is DirectTV's access, which is very expensive. I even live in a populated area compared to Alaska, Wyoming, or Montana for example. Anyone know of a similar idea being done in the states? I for one would move and sign up.

    As far as this being used in South America, I find it ironic they have wi-fi access but lack much more important technologies, such as better roads or medicine. Of course, the information and education provided by such access may lead to better conditions. This is a huge experiment in putting the cart before the horse.
  • by arduous (91558) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:40AM (#8723173) Homepage
    As an IT consultant (and formerly an ISP guy) I am doing the end-customer support and installations for one of these POP's on the VIC/NSW border.

    The Ursys guys run their own internal APT repository that all the BusiBox's update from (Yes, the BusiBox's are just normal rackmount PC's), allowing then to easy automate updates.

    Their "web interface" is just a custom version of webmin.

    I have no idea what the $3500/month for 1GB is about. I dont deal with the billing side at all.

    But the service appears to work well. I am looking forward to see how much range we can get out here with the 802.11b gear, as ADSL is unlikely to come to most of these towns for many years.
    • I know of one group up and running with satellite/wireless in rural southern france! There is no info on their website as yet though. I also know of someone else setting up a satellite/wireless solution in rural Italian locations in the next few months.

      http://www.cyberporte.com (French)
      http://www.cyberporte.co.uk (English)
    • I know that in rural Iowa and similar locations in the US, enterprising communities set up multiple homes using 802.11b and antennae, so that farms that are even as much as 5 kilometers apart can share a single "broadband" (I hate that term) line.
    • .35c/MB seems to be Telstra's default cost for data. This figure includes both transport of the data, as well as providing the data; some satellite network providers will give much cheaper transfer rates but you need to somehow supply the data to their uplink for them, meaning you need to pay extra for an internet link. (assuming you want the remote sites to have internet access)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If Teledesic had been able to get to launch, Bill Gates, Craig McCaw, and some Saudi dude would be able to provide broadband to the Earth, and thus owned a global backbone. Low-Earth Orbiting Satellites would have been nice except for completely confusing astronomers. Put Al Gore in there somewhere to make it official. Anyone actually know why Teledesic didn't get off the ground?
    • Are you serious? I'm getting major shades of L. Bob Rife here...

      I think if Bill Gates OWNED the network backbones, I would move to Mars.
    • Teledesic didn't work because it was INSANELY EXPENSIVE. I mean, their original plan called for something like 480 satellites in a low Earth orbit. Then they scaled it back to two hundred or so satellites with reduced functionality and coverage. And then, shortly before they withered away, they were saying something about *maybe* a dozen satellites in a higher orbit with even less coverage. I think at that point they looked at the plan and said: "Oh shit, this has been done before and it was called Iridium"
  • by JohnA (131062) <johnanderson&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @02:47AM (#8723200) Homepage
    Here in the states, every telecom subscriber is required to pay into the Universal Access Fund, which provided subsidies for those living outside of an economically viable service area to receive POTS.

    This seems like a perfect application of said UAF funds...,
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The Universal Service Agreement with this is part of, only covers voice calls and modem speeds upto 28kbps (??) and until a couple of years ago only covered 9600 bps.

      Australia Communication Authority - [aca.gov.au]
      Universal Service Obligation

      Looking at the scheme more cynically, it is designed to provide Flo average citizen from Wagga Wagga with the impression that the government is protecting her from the Big Bad Telco's (Telstra is 51% owned by the Federal Government). Its primary aim is to cover the un-timed l

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not quite - we have a government-owned (well, 51% government owned, and only till the damn fools convice us to let them sell the rest of it too) telecom. The idea is that there are regulations in force making sure telstra (aforementioned telecom) maintains a certain degree of service to remote areas of australia, but in practise (and especially since the sale of 49% of telstra to the public), service to remote rural areas is average at best.

      Before I get tarred and brushed as one of those 'dirty socialists'
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If someone forgot to get the needed IP licences for Linux, the Australian data infrastructure will eventually be SCO's property.
  • And here I am, 15km (10miles or so) out from Brisbane City (in Queensland, Australia), and I can not get cable or adsl :( and i *really* dont want satelite
  • When I am on a skiing-holiday in Austria, I mostly stay in small villages somewhere far down the valley. If I am lucky, those towns only have a crappy expensive ISDN-connection. It would be awesome if I could just use my laptop with WiFi-card in my chalet or hotel, en put my skiing-pictures online, check my email or find out the weatherconditions for the next day.

    Will the solution mentioned in the article also work in an area with high mountains and deep valleys, where there's only a few small villages w

  • by hibachi (162898) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:12AM (#8723496)
    The company I work for, SSI Micro, [ssimicro.com] has provided full-mesh frame relay and Internet services over satellite throughout northern Canada, well into the high arctic, since early 2000. We continue to expand the number of communities we service across the north all the time. The Outback almost sounds like a walk in the park by comparison - assuming you don't mind snakes. We also recently deployed a six site satellite network in Zambia to provide Internet services to an international development organisation there. Certainly each of these remote regions provide their own set of challenges.

    In addition to dial-up, we have always used wireless technologies as a last mile solution. We used 802.11 for many years in those applications, and continue to do so. Currently we are also working with Inukshuk [inukshuk.ca] to roll out MCS wireless services, as mentioned in an earlier Slashdot story, [slashdot.org] and it is simply an amazing technology. The broadband picture keeps getting better and better up here all the time.

    Satellite is definitely here to stay. It is going to be a long time before every nook and cranny of this world is wired, and frankly, I hope it never is.
  • I work for one of the most intelligent people I know. Jim built his wireless network up from the ground by ordering $5,000 radios, ripping them apart with screwdrivers and plyers, and really learning how to get the job done.

    I don't get told a lot about our network, but we have a combination of 802.11b and g from my understanding, running across links of up to 13 miles.

    For the controlling servers, my understanding is that we're running a mostly Linux layout, but that's speculation as I've currently got
  • Is it really as bad as all you people say it is?

    Sure 3.5k aus is a bit, but the internet has a whole lot more to offer than .avi .mp3 .torrent
    In rural Australia there are many farms. With the internet automation of farming procedures could be achieved.Ie Feeding stations, gates, harvesting....


    Surely this would lower the cost of farming and make it worthwile.
  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:33AM (#8723537) Journal
    A company proposed an 802.11a wireless broadband network sharing a 2Mb leased line for our '6 village' area on the South Coast of the UK. We're not a million miles from civilisation (nearest big town is about 6 miles), but we're 'rural' and so our phone exchanges were not likely to be broadband enabled for a short while.

    Monthly charges were about the same as POTS-based broadband, plus the client kit costs, but I felt that since there were quite a few small businesses in the area POTS broadband would happen eventually and so I stuck to my single channel ISDN.

    At a kick-off meeting for the network, I raised concerns about the likelihood of POTS-based broadband coming to the area and diluting the wireless user base (it needed to maintain a certain number of subscribers to pay for the kit maintenance costs, power and also keep up the rental on the leased line), but was dismissed by those excited (IMHO) by the technology aspects of the system and perhaps the thrill of having a funny-shaped antenna on their roof!

    Guess what, the company providing the infrastructure went bust before the roll-out was complete. I understand some of the kit may have been taken by creditors and so the system's now not intact and no buyer for the network installation could be found because many of those approached (about 10) realised that there was a local phone exchange likely to be broadband enabled 'sometime'. The final (post-going-bust) nail in the coffin was that broadband came to the area in December 2003 (2 months after the wireless provider went bust) via the local phone exchange.

    The Australian solution looks like the right thing for the right demographics, the solution proposed in our area seemed to be pandering to the impatient and the technophiles, and not well thought out business-wise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:40AM (#8723556)
    For what its worth, http://www.latis.net.au uses around 200 linux based satellite routers to cover an area of some 1,349,130 sq km (520,902 sq miles) or so to provide internet services to primary and secondary schools across the Northern Territory in Australia...

    For comparisons sake, the American state of Texas covers about 267,277 sq. miles (about 692,244 sq km)
  • Ursys tried to use Windows but it was 'too unstable.'

    Me too.

  • ..is that they "tried Windows".
    Thats GOT to have been a management decision.
    Good for the Aussies.
  • In the UK (Score:2, Interesting)

    im doing a similar project for a bunch of villages in the midlands, using only open source software on every bit of kit under my control and its worked out perfectly and onehelluvalot cheaper than certain other alternatives....

    Ive got a job in the south of france soon to provide satellite/wireless access to 15 villages which should provide quite a challenge, 15 downpoints and ~400 clients from each downpoint ;)
  • Review (Score:5, Funny)

    by moxruby (152805) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:10AM (#8723620)
    Slashdot post review:

    [*] mentions australia
    [*] bashes windows
    [*] praises linux
    [*] mentions debian
    [*] misleading headline (only the router runs linux)
    [*] mentions wireless internet
    [*] spell checked

    Nice work, Tim!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The other day, there was a report on a german tv channel about a project in a rural area in {holland, scandinavia?}. Some people took some standard parts from the local DIY-store as antennas and extended the range to some kilometers. They have alreay built a working network in their area using this technology. May be someone has seen the same report and remembers where it was located?
  • by Dovregubbens Hall (583591) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @07:01AM (#8723997)
    It is something like this I have suggested [slashdot.org] that "we" build in areas where people are living under suppression, where the Internet is under strong control and the government can censor everything.

    A free and uncontrolled Internet could be very valuable under those conditions, and if the routers where hard to find, it could be a very powerful democratizing force.

  • So what happens when you have a hard drive failure in space? Or are they firmware? Pretty cool idea, that you can run a satellite off Linux...but hardware failures are still very real :)

    Also, my understanding is they use the satellites to get the internet TO the locations, then give it to people via 802.1... not 802.1 coming from the satellites.. am I correct?
    • you get a downpoint dish that talks to the satellite via mm-microwave i presume and a little router piece of kit, which then needs putting on a normal ethernet network. on this network you have an access point to distribute it by 802.whatever
      • Ok that's kinda what I thought... so they aren't giving it to people via 802.1x. of the 'lites. Interesting.. wonder what it costs to put a bird like one of these up? Still, it's only one way, according to the article.. blah.
    • Yup, it was a bit of a confusing headline...for 'satellite', read 'remote' - NOT 'shiny thing up thar somewhere in space'.

      Made me think though:

      OK, Mars rovers are using solid state 'disk' but if someone was mad enough to go down the hard-disk-in-a satellite route (I presume they haven't!??)
      1) Hard disks won't work in a vacuum so you'd have to seal them in airtight cases filled with..er..air, or would you use something inert like nitrogen and then would this affect the disk's head aerodynamics?
      2) How
  • Aramiska (Score:2, Interesting)

    by manon (112081)
    The Dutch company Aramiska [aramiska.com] does the same. They were in Linux User [aramiska.com].
    • Aramiska are the company i use, their routers (arcs) run linux and their support has been top after some teething problems in the uk.

      now were under the name ukbbc - uk broadband communications, have a look at ukbbc.co.uk some time later in the week there should be a website there with our pricing structure
  • by CaptainTux (658655) <papillion@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @09:55AM (#8725100) Homepage Journal
    We're doing something similar [blogspot.com] for our small town [miamiok.org] and a few other small towns here in Oklahoma but we're going the wireless mesh route. It's cheaper, easier to maintain, and isn't as confusing for the average user. It also allows for some pretty cool profit sharing opportunities for the subscribers. Even as remote as Austrailia can be, I have to wonder why they didn't use this route. IMHO, satellite seems like overkill for this. Anyone know why mesh wouldn't have worked there?
  • As noted in many other posts the current state of Broadband internet connections in Australia is a joke. I happen to live 4kms (~2miles) from the center of Canberra THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL CITY and cannot get ADSL - (due to distance from the exchange).

    I could get an ISDN line from our beloved Tel$tra but would pay more for a 64k line than people up the road are paying for 512k unlimited DSL - and i would be locked into a 1 year contract.

    Yet another reason to kick Johnny in the arse come the election at
    • due to distance from the exchange

      Have you tried reapplying today? Telstra just extended the distance allowable for ADSL just the other day. Now the most common copper can be over 4km instead of 3.5km.

      http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm ?t =177646

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