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Wireless Networking Hardware

Estonia Embraces Wi-Fi Wireless Internet Access 175

Posted by simoniker
from the eurovision-wifi-contest dept.
securitas writes "BBC Technology's Clark Boyd reports on one man's efforts to make free 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless Internet access ubiquitous in Estonia. An estimated two-thirds of Estonia is now covered by wireless hotspots according to Veljo Haamer, who convinced Estonia's major oil companies, Neste and Statoil, to install free hotspots at gas stations. Two-thirds of Estonia's approximately 280 public hotspots are free to use, all of which are marked with signs. But Haamer still wardrives for dead-spots and next plans to get free wireless access to public parks and green spaces. Last year Slashdot covered Estonia's legislation declaring Internet access a human right."
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Estonia Embraces Wi-Fi Wireless Internet Access

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  • by darkewolf (24563) <draoidh@iinet.net.au> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @04:49AM (#9071550) Homepage Journal

    A anti-geek as it may sound, I really can't see a need for 100% wireless coverage of any country large or small.

    When I got to parks or outdoors, I do it to relax and escape the technology that I work with and live with. I go find a tree in a nice park near the river and sit quietly and listen to the water, the wind and the birds.

    I really don't want to sit there and hear some guys talking about how they can watch their stock prices change second by second now, or some brat fragging a buddy whilst enjoying nature.

    Oh well, I am safe from it in Australia at least.

  • by grisken (776441) <heno@helges.net> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @04:56AM (#9071573) Homepage Journal
    Companies like statoil (which is a norwegian state owned company) might release this service as free in a certain "test" period. But i doubt they wont charge people for this if wi-fi really takes off. Statoil did this in norway too. You coud access free wifi hotspots, but after a couple of months you had to pay for it. (About a dollar pr. mb transferred). Though Estonia and Norway are two different countries (here, gas makes only for 13% of gas stations income profits. The biggest is actualy sousages and soda)... but as i said. Im skeptical.
  • by darkgreen (599556) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @04:57AM (#9071577) Homepage
    Actually, I think it's a great idea. The fact that it's wireless lets you get it out of the 'view' of the public - no place to plug into means no lines for an outlet, or crowding around just one place.

    You can take any idea too far, granted, and having wireless everywhere doesn't mean it's ok to use at every chance you get (similar to having coverage for your cell doesn't mean it's alright to start yelling into the phone (and my ear) during my dinner, or commute, etc. Compared to that, I'd take a commute on the train with 50 people clicking away instead of chattering cell phones any day.

    Technology is great, it's courtesy we're lacking.
  • by absquatulatrix (768250) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @04:58AM (#9071578)
    By two-thirds-coverage, they must mean proximity to a hotspot, right? Like being in the same town as a cafe with one? Maybe I'm seriously misinformed about the current range of these things, but I can't imagine 280 hotspots covering two-thirds of the total area of the country. But no matter how the country is covered, I don't see the problem, especially if wireless just happens to be the simplest way to get everyone Internet access. As long as for most people the Internet remains a means to various ends, rather than an end in itself (hm, perhaps this isn't something I should be expressing on slashdot!)
  • by jpu8086 (682572) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:02AM (#9071593) Homepage
    how in the world do 280 public hot spots cover two-thirds of a country (that is 45,226 sq km [cia.gov] in area)?

    what is the technology behind these super hot spots? or is this just another case of aggrandized mathematics?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:03AM (#9071601)
    Well, Estonia is bathing its people in 802.11 waves. In a few years we'll know if there are any problems. Thank you Estonia for your large-scale human experiment!
  • by manavendra (688020) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:08AM (#9071612) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure where this is leading to. Certainly other /.'ers haven't said much about this. Yet.

    Education is declared a human right in several countries, specifically the developing countries, but do they get it? Even with government-funded schools and subsidies? Isn't this a case of stuff-in-your-face?

    OTOH, it's good to have Wi-Fi access points at as many places possible. This is truly a step towards the ever-shrinking, connected, global society. But then again, what would be the impacts? How will such a culture change us? With easier and faster access, it isn't far when the only sport would be "surfing" - and the one that doesn't involve any boards !
  • Mission Impossible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dutt (738848) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:09AM (#9071617) Homepage
    It's got to be a hell of a job to try and administer a fully open network, covering 2/3 rds of a country.

    Just imagine how tight you would have to have the security, and even then it would be hard to keep control over it all.

    Administration of it all sounds like a impossible mission. We'll maybe not impossible, but very hard.

  • by targo (409974) <targo_t@NoSpAM.hotmail.com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:12AM (#9071622) Homepage
    A anti-geek as it may sound, I really can't see a need for 100% wireless coverage of any country large or small.

    I really don't want to sit there and hear some guys talking about how they can watch their stock prices change second by second now, or some brat fragging a buddy whilst enjoying nature.

    How is this different from having 100% cell phone service coverage? You could similarly say that it would be bothersome to have people talking on their cell phones everywhere and all the time.
    This has actually nothing to do with coverage and everything to do with people's culture.
    Estonia has had 100% cell coverage for a while now but I must say I find Estonian cell phone users less obtrusive than say, Americans (I live in the US most of the time but visit Estonia every now and then).
    America is about 5 years behind Estonia and other frontrunners in Europe when it comes to embracing cell phones and going through the same problems Europe did (people using their phones as status symbols and showing off and being a pain in the ass). However, people have really embraced the cell phone culture and gotten over the initial growth pain, there's much more respect to other people, less showing off and more maturity in general. I expect America to catch up in a few years in that respect.

    Similarly, wireless Internet will evolve through the same stages, there will be a period of adolescence and then maturity. In 10 years, wireless coverage will be everywhere and we will wonder how we ever got by without it (similar to regular Internet or cell phones today).
  • by DigitumDei (578031) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:16AM (#9071630) Homepage Journal
    Don't ham radios put out a much stronger signal on the same frequency range? There was a time when ham radio's were quite popular (and in some places they still are) and I don't remember anything about ham radio's massive cancer causing properties.
  • by cozziewozzie (344246) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:39AM (#9071698)
    Education is declared a human right in several countries, specifically the developing countries, but do they get it? Even with government-funded schools and subsidies? Isn't this a case of stuff-in-your-face?

    It is, and it should be. Education is not just a basic human right, but also a basic human responsibility towards others. If you don't want to learn how to live in a civilised society, go live in a cave somewhere.

    I pity all the people who don't have access to free education, or are denied it all over the world, while some fat kids from rich countries think it is their right to sit in front of the TV and never learn to spell. Let them eat cake, I say.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @08:02AM (#9072082) Homepage Journal
    You can pay your parking lot or buy flowers by SMS. Wow, that's really advanced and even if it so, I don't see how practical it can be. Come on, lose 2 minutes to type and SMS instead of paying by cash or credit card....

    I would personally find that VERY useful.

    For a start, carrying change is cumbersome, most parking machines don't accept notes, and you can never be 100% sure if you have the right amount of change on you (or in the right denominations). Once I went to my favourite parking lot and found the price had gone to 5 from 4. I had 4 of change on me. So I went back to my car (a few minutes' walk in this particular lot) and scrambled around and found a pile of change which got me to the 5. Then I went back to the machine and put in it.. but after 20 coins it wouldn't let me put in any more!! This forced me to find a shop, buy something I didn't even want, just so I could get some change (how else do you get change? change machines are not common in the UK)

    And credit card? Gee, the only parking that takes credit cards is when you book it, or if you use some fancy expensive place downtown. For general parking, forget it. You need your change, or else.. and in a society where otherwise you never need to carry notes or change, it's ridiculous you still need it to park.

    Estonia has got it right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @08:24AM (#9072175)
    estonia is a COUNTRY, paris is one single f@#$%^& city in the big and powerful france. considering the scales its quite mentionable for one little country to push on the hi tech front like that. but all that bragging in the media about how 1337 we are actually makes me feel ashamed. think im gonna move to australia.

    but sms parking and also sms bus tickets are pretty neat gimmicks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:37PM (#9075345)
    I'm living in Estonia.

    Paying for your parking by SMS is extremely convienient - you don't have to type in an SMS every time, you may also call a 4-digit number and the counter is started. To end the parking - call another 4-digit number.

    I often start parking before actually stopping, it save me time. No need to buy any tickets if you're out of them. No wasted tickets (because parking is free in the evening and the counter is paused for that period).

    You could learn something from it.

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