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Wireless Networking Hardware

Persuading A City To Go Wireless? 168

Posted by timothy
from the what's-your-value-proposition dept.
An anonymous reader submits "We keep reading about cities dishing out free wireless; Philadelphia, San Francisco, Austin, TX, and many, many others. But how does one go about forming a group to get their city to go wireless? Looking around, there are a few articles out there, but most deal with selling it to businesses. I haven't been able to find a definitive guide to "Getting your city to go wireless". So I send my plea out to the Slashdot community - just how does one go about getting your city to go wireless?"
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Persuading A City To Go Wireless?

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  • Need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by regjoe (772900) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10351050)
    The first point you need to sell on is need. Can private business fill the need in the area, if not, then Govenment has the responsibility to listen to its citizens and make an informed decision. I would personally like my ton to offer this, but we already have companies providing it. Govenment should not compete with private business over such matters.
    • Re:Need (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Govenment should not compete with private business over such matters.

      Why not?

      • "Why not?"

        If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

        Right now, in San Francisco, we have free wireless access points provided by private individuals for free, and they're working just fine. But if the government gets involved, there is no guarantee that the system will remain free, and by free I mean (free as in beer) and (free as in freedom to browse any web site I want). In my book, money from taxes, and money from bonds, does not mean it's free.

    • Re:Need (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pigscanfly.ca (664381)
      The best way is to bypass your city and instead go after the individual business that would benefit from this. Citys tend to be fairly beurcratic, but if you can go to say a coffee shop and say X more poeple would buy coffee from you if you had wireless which would cost Y dollars (where Y is less than X multiplied by there marginal profit over the span of 3 months) then they will almost always go for it because they can increase there profit
      As for convincing an entire city, unless its really small I think y
    • Re:Need (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RollingThunder (88952) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:25PM (#10351181)
      Govenment should not compete with private business over such matters.

      I disagree. When things are best provided as a localized monopoly, I would rather the government (yes, with it's inherent inefficiencies, which are magnitudes less than rabid conservatives would have you believe) have that monopoly, than a for-profit company that will eventually abuse that monopoly.

      You can prevent the company from abusing the monopoly with government regulation, true - but then you're spending money to regulate the industry. Better you just do it yourself, via the government.
      • Re:Need (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Skim123 (3322)
        When things are best provided as a localized monopoly, I would rather the government (yes, with it's inherent inefficiencies, which are magnitudes less than rabid conservatives would have you believe) have that monopoly, than a for-profit company that will eventually abuse that monopoly.

        While I agree that in a service that is "best provided as a localized monopoly" that, yes, gov't is much better than privitization. But must there be a monopoly? Why can't there be multiple wireless service providers, com

      • Re:Need (Score:3, Informative)

        by zorander (85178)
        I would say that "magnitudes" is unreasonable. Many government programs have high levels of administration overhead. This is a fact. Government overheads are also much higher than corporate ones, in general. Logically, a company with a profit motive has much more reason to be efficient than a government program run by bureucrats with no personal stake in the matter.

        Conservatives often claim numbers like 70% as far as administrative overhead goes. "Orders of magnitude" would imply that the real numbers are
      • Re:Need (Score:2, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054)
        This is NOT (yep, yelling) something that requires or even suggests a monopoly, any more than cell phone service requires a monopoly.

        So your arguments are moot from the start.
        No service providers other than water an sewer (and in some places Electricity) can count on a monopoly anymore, and as a consequence people can vote with their pocketbook.

        Such is not the case when the government steps in, and abuses of power happen far more frequently when the government is involved than when people are free to take
      • Re:Need (Score:3, Informative)

        by stephanruby (542433)
        "I would rather the government..."

        If the government takes care of this instead (instead of private individuals, non-profits, local businesses, and coffee shops). It will be run just like your local Public Library. You won't be able to access porn, games, and mp3s (even legitimate ones). Your access will be monitored and tracked for "security" reasons (remember the story about Homeland Security complaining about free wireles access points). And just to err on the safe side, your wireless connection will be

        • You won't be able to access porn, games, and mp3s (even legitimate ones).

          Amen. I've been telling this to everyone in Philly who will listen. The whole network will be run through some kind of censorware, and a suspicious number of sites critical of the city government will be listed as "hate groups". Sure, you'll be able to get a site taken off the blacklist, but it'll involve spending whole days on the phone with City Hall.

          The other alternative is that they could have some kind of registration system
    • I don't disagree. I just like to think about it differently.

      I wouldn't focus on need, but on the win-win aspect. The things government does best are things that benefit society as a whole, but don't benefit the people do it. If you can figure out the total value of an open wireless network and the total cost, the decision becomes obvious. Of course you need to ask why a business isn't doing it. If business doesn't do it because they can't turn enough of the benefit into income, you've got a place where g

    • I agree. Local Governments have their hands full just meeting their mandated responsibilities and providing services. I could see a role for a city providing interim wifi service if there were an issue of coverage or access in an area neglected by commercial interests because of a perceived lack of demand, or because of an area's demographics, but to compete with commercial interests, I think there may be laws in certain states prohibiting this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10351052)
    I'm serious. Cities have better things to spend the tax money on, if you really want it to happen then find other people that feel the same way and offer to fund it.
    • by FauxReal (653820)
      Yes, take the Personal Telco [personaltelco.net] approach.
    • by fyngyrz (762201)
      I disagree. The government currently has the role of maintaining transport infrastructure. With good reason: It is critical, and it is very darned big. I'm pretty sure that in addition to transport of land, air and water vehicles, cargo on same, water supplies, and pedestrians, that the transport of electricity, heating fuels and information/communications are appropriate for the government to (a) manage the infrastructure of and (b) ensure that everyone has the opportunity to use the resource without surch
  • Tourist hot spots? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoInfo (247461) * on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10351055) Homepage Journal
    I'd start by trying to get the most touristy areas covered by wireless. Beaches, Main street, historic district, etc.

    It's much more likely to happen there since most cities have no problem providing this sort of support to non-citizens.

    Over time, this might grow to your local parks and hang-out areas.

  • by mind21_98 (18647) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10351060) Homepage Journal
    Except that it doesn't usually make a profit. Just convince it that it'll bring in business people and the like and increase city revenues. Of course, if your city's a hick town in the middle of nowhere or fairly small, it might not be popular, especially if it's going to be geared towards business people (no offense).
    • by captnitro (160231) * on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:26PM (#10351184)
      Your point is correct, but I wouldn't necessarily say that people in the middle of nowhere wouldn't benefit or want it.

      For example, I live in the New River Valley (Virginia), where the entire place is practically nowhere. However, we're expected to grow immensely within the next 10 years because of, among other things: suburban sprawl, low cost of living, cheap real estate, and so on. While the town I live in has a poverty rate of 43% (!) as of the 2000 census, the population is split between poor farmers and businesses attracted by nearby Virginia Tech, which has been very active in the past few years in advertising "you could be home by now" for business because of the aforementioned reasons, as well as the proximity to a Top 30 research institution.

      In this case, wireless has popped up all over in the past year because our town council is smart and realizes that if we want to attract business, we should offer business perks comparable to that in a larger area. Similarly, it gets the townfolk out and about and spending money because whereas they might not be able to get DSL at home, they *can* get wireless anywhere downtown. It also costs less in terms of coverage area, despite the startup costs taking a bigger chunk of available funds. Several years ago, towns in the area decided to pay for an assload of fiber, most notably Blacksburg, where VT is located. By doing this they lessened the cost for private owners to roll out wireless, among other connectivity, around here.

      The point is, I think there's an even bigger incentive for smaller areas to roll out wireless, or at least the connectivity to make it happen. In a large area, a greater percentage of persons will have broadband, or even Internet access in general, so the argument could be made that wireless is a benefit mostly only for visitors. But in a small town, it can benefit the entire community with a much bigger payoff.
    • A city is not a business. The goal of a business is to make money. The goal of a government is to serve the people. (Of course, in practice the government might acquire greedy people who wish to control the government for their own personal profits, but that's not what's supposed to happen.)

      As a result, businesses will try to have their profit margins as large as possible, whereas governments should not, because serving the people is their end goal, not making money off of their services.
  • If I remember correctly, and indiidual known as the Blue Fairy is rather good at removing wires from things.
  • Austin is wireless? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:10PM (#10351078) Homepage
    Living in Austin, I was quite astounded to find that the city had gone wireless.

    Clicking on your link, I learned what I already knew -- many businesses offer wireless access. Oh. Hardly news.

    So, to answer your question, you do not convince a city to go wireless. You convince indivual businesses to do so, or if you run a business, you do so yourself.

    • There is one respect in which Austin is going wireless: Verizon is offering citywide wireless coverage for Austin [bizjournals.com]. However, this wireless access is neither fast nor free [thestandard.com]; the proposed price is $80 a month, and the speed is 300-500 kbits/sec down, 50 kbps/sec up. Therefore, this is yet another case of an individual business offering a sort of wireless access, but they claim to cover an entire city, and they charge.
      • Citywide, wireless Internet access is nothing new. I recall going to a NNO (Nerds Night Out) 12 or so years ago here in Austin where Albert Nurick (since moved to Houston) set up a web cam with a laptop at the bar that we all congregated at.

        (Names, dates and locations may have been changed at the whim of random neurons in my head that may not be connected the same way there were in the past.)

        He had a PCMCIA card that gave him 19.2kbps access to the Internet. I believe the service was through AT

    • You convince indivual businesses to do so, or if you run a business, you do so yourself.

      And you don't even need a business to do this. Many of the free access points in San Francisco are run by private individuals that share their broadband connections. That's all. It's just like P2P. You simply share the resources that you're currently not using.

  • Angry mob (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JorDan Clock (664877) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:10PM (#10351081)
    You could try the good ol' angry mob o' citizens :) Some other, less angry methods include: - A petition. Get enough people to sign a petition (get some tourists too) and someone's bound to consider it. - Resarch. Conduct your own research/study (or hire a research/studies firm) on the desirabiliy and benefits of wireless access points through out the city. Be sure to include cheap methods. - Set up a small wireless network at a local park to demonstrate to the city that people want it.
    • I think the idea of demonstrating smaller ones and showing research to a government is good in theory, but then again, the governement isnt always interested in the benefit of the people.
      • Meh. It's atleast something to try. Besides, if you show that there's a substantial chance what's good for the people is also good for business, they might be interested. When dollar signs start showing up, people pay more attention.
  • Muniwireless (Score:4, Informative)

    by YeOldeGnurd (14524) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:12PM (#10351095) Homepage Journal
    A few of us in Medford MA have just begun discussing how we would go about convincing the city to offer wireless. We've all been reading the reports at MuniWireless.com" [muniwireless.com]

  • You don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbelle13013 (812401) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:14PM (#10351110)
    No offence to any government working /.ers that operate the computers, but having the government offer "free" wireless internet is a horrible idea.

    Besides tax dollars being used to kill the competition, you'll end up with a low quality service. The same types of people that work at the DMV will work at the Municpal Internet Department. I'm not talking about the techies that know what they're doing, I'm strictly talking customer support.

    Also, why would you want to give the government easier access to your internet data? Most of the folks here are adamently against the Patriot Act, but free governemnt sponsored wireless seems to be okay?

    My company uses Verizon with the EvDO cards and have "wireless" everywhere we go, at near cable speeds. Its $80 a month and I get a real human to answer the tech support line after i prompt for English. AT&T and others have very similar solutions.

    I can only imagine tech support through the government.
    • Re:You don't (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dogfart (601976)
      I actually find that many government agencies provide better customer service than many for-profit entities. Perhaps because government customers are voters, while private sectors customers are a cost to be minimized (e.g. post-sales support).

      I get a much prompter response from the California DMV than I do from SBC Global, Earthlink or just about any other private entity.. It actually shocked me that I was able to set up a DMV appointment so effortlessly without being on hold for 30 minutes, going throu

      • Re:You don't (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darth_Burrito (227272)
        I dunno. People, myself included, have hated dealing with the DMV for as long as I can remember. Long lines, complicated fee structures, very few if any online capabilities.

        I've seen people wait in line for 15 minutes, then, after being served, be told they had to go wait in a different line for something else. I've gone to DMV stations where I've been told they only offer a subset of services there, and I'd have to drive 15 miles to a nearby town to take care of the rest.

        That said, I also hate d
    • Re:You don't (Score:3, Insightful)

      by josh3736 (745265)
      First of all, why would a city government offering free wireless even have tech support??? If you can't figure out how to pop in a 802.11 card and connect to "CityWireless" that's your problem-- you get what you pay for!

      Second, there is no law forcing you to use the government-sponsored wireless connectivity. If you don't want them to have "easier access" to your internet data, connect a VPN or SSH session back to your box at home. Problem solved.

      I'm not going to pay Verizon $80 a month so I can check

      • why would a city government offering free wireless even have tech support??? If you can't figure out how to pop in a 802.11 card and connect to "CityWireless" that's your problem-- you get what you pay for!

        The problem with this logic is it assumes the citizens aren't paying for the "free" wireless via taxes.

        Second, there is no law forcing you to use the government-sponsored wireless connectivity.

        If the government offers a "free" wireless solution that everyone pays for with taxes (no opt-out),
        • The problem with this logic is it assumes the citizens aren't paying for the "free" wireless via taxes.

          You're paying for the infastructure with your taxes. You're not really paying for service, per se, becuase service would include support. You pay for the trasportation infastructure (roads) with taxes. The government doesn't have a number you can call when you are lost and need directions. (That would be support.) You buy a map or pay for a third-party service (AAA, OnStar). Yes, you can call the

          • Good point with the infrastructure comparison. Since part of my job is support, it's hard for me to think of a successful isp offering without accompanying support. However, I guess someone could try it. There would be nothing to stop third parties from offering limited support in terms of helping people get connected. Also, people are becomming more and more tech savy. The idea of a public information infrastructure without direct support might be a lot more plausible in a world where broadband is as
    • Besides tax dollars being used to kill the competition, you'll end up with a low quality service. The same types of people that work at the DMV will work at the Municpal Internet Department. I'm not talking about the techies that know what they're doing, I'm strictly talking customer support.

      DMV quality service? Thats better service than I get at most companys customer support lines. Heck, its about as good as the average retail outlet these days. I'm sold!

      As for killing competition- wireless and oth
      • The problem with the DMV versus a real company is that, usually, to do anything involving the DMV, I have to go there during normal business hours, wait in line forever, wait in another line forever, etc.

        Meanwhile, if there is something I need to do involving a company, odds are I can do it online without getting my ass out of my chair.

        The percentage of events that need to be escalated to actual human contact with the DMV is much higher than it is with most companies I deal with.
    • No offence to the Libertarians, but check out Click! cable [click-network.com] which is owned by the power company in Tacoma, WA. If they'd offer service this far north I'd gladly buy my broadband and cable from their "low quality service". People in Tacoma love the fact that their government competes with Comcast.

      Government doesn't have to be inefficient just as business doesn't have to be corrupt. Just because there's not an Enron and a Worldcom and a Tyco on your block doesn't mean that Verizon (to use your example) isn't
    • Look, this is a myth, folks, that needs to be beaten with a stick until it's good and dead.

      1. When you think "wireless utility", how about you think "water utility" - yeah, that stuff that pretty much just works, so much so you take it for granted. Designed and run by gov't employees.

      2. The reference to the California DMV is exactly right. It's impressively low hassle, and has been for some years - but before that, it was hell-on-wheels, fulfilling every bit of that myth. It's pretty clear that what happe
  • I know a great deal of smaller towns are getting it for the economic development 'buzz'. The biz-dev guys say 'we gotta have wifi in the downtown area to attract the high-tech crowd'

    So the city council approves the spending on the hopes that having a free wifi network will attract new business downtown. But it's not only new businesses it's foot traffic. Got wifi in your park? then perhaps the businesses and restaurants around it will benefit somewhat.

    Sometimes the development is pretty easy since they
    • You have to love it.

      Here is Southeastern Virignia, Cox Fibernet runs one of the two Fiber optic MANs that I know of (Verizon being the other). Their prices are pretty high, it makes it hard to compete with other regions. A DS3 on verizon copper can be had for much cheaper than Cox's advertised DS3 circuit+loop price. The worst part is, they have weekly outages that hit some of their bigger customers (like Hospitals). I've heard of business customers getting notices that their service may be interrupted
  • Justification (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Agilis (796661) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:17PM (#10351124)
    A good part of it is justifying the cost of doing such a project for what might be little benefit to city budget committees who are always strapped for cash. Other than "hey look we're tech savy come here!" what benefit do you derive from paying for free wireless upkeep in a metro area?
    • I think allocating money for say, an economic development department, to organize some meetings with the area chamber and wifi providers would be reasonable. Beyond marketing the opportunties to both businesses and access providers, I wouldn't want my city to go into the wifi business.

      I could also see transit stations/centers, airports, etc. as places that local governments put bids out for wifi provisioning contract being reasonable.

      Only place I would have issues with wifi might be in parks **near s
  • I live in Duluth, Minnesota (great white north), and we are making a lot of progress througth tech kiosks and access points in touristy areas to become more and more of a wired city, unfortunatly duluth is geographically a huge city since it is about 50 miles from one end of town to the other despite that we only have about 85,000 people. Since I am in the hinterlands on one end I woul never be on an access point, and even if they did set one up it would only be able to serve about 20 houses. And since, de
  • Simple .... Money! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by polyp2000 (444682) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:23PM (#10351160) Homepage Journal
    But how does one go about forming a group to get their city to go wireless?

    Tell them that its a great way to make MONEY...

    $$$$$
  • Resistance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:29PM (#10351197)
    Wouldn't mobile phone network providers lobby against this sort of thing? If a city went wireless, portable WiFi VoIP devices could be used as an alternative to mobile phones, without the call charges. Since mobile phone carriers have deep pockets and people wanting a city to go wireless wouldn't have as much influence, chances are politicians would go in favor of maintaining "soft money" lobbyists protecting their source of revenue.
  • by neiffer (698776) * on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:29PM (#10351198) Homepage
    I think the article author might misunderstand what it means for a "city to go wireless." Many of the cities mentioned don't have any sort of universal infrastructure, but rahter a network of patchwork wireless ranging from free hotspots from ISPs promoting their service to wireless home users who intentionally (or unintentionally) allow people in their area to use wireless. As for a city, Spokane, Washington has a large, city-supported and funded wireless hotspot in their downtown area which they greated to give public servants (from parking ticket writers to police officiers) a data network using cheap, off-the-shelf technology. You many want to consider that route.
  • by nenya (557317) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:33PM (#10351211) Homepage
    Talk about your massively insecure network...

    Do we really want to encourage everyone in an entire city to take part in a single network which seems almost inherently insecure? I can't imagine they'd use any kind of WEP, as that would defeat the purpose of having a city-wide network. I know I feel a lot safer behind my router's firewall than I ever do warchalking.
    • Do we really want to encourage everyone in an entire city to take part in a single network which seems almost inherently insecure? I can't imagine they'd use any kind of WEP, as that would defeat the purpose of having a city-wide network. I know I feel a lot safer behind my router's firewall than I ever do warchalking.

      Why couldn't you just treat it with the same trust as you do the internet? That is, always have a firewall between your system and the wireless connection.

    • by OrangeSpyderMan (589635) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:57PM (#10351360)
      Talk about your massively insecure network...

      Wake up and smell the coffee. The internet is as insecure as it comes - anything you don't feel comfortable sending across WiFi you shouldn't send across the Internet either. WiFi has the advantage that only people in your neighbourhood can break in - that's heaven when you compare it to the internet :-) Encryption exists, use it, you should do anyway if it has to go through the internet - no difference.
    • A concern some communities might have is the access the wifi network might allow minors to have to sites prohibited by their schools district and at home.
  • "Backbone" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lkstrand (463964)
    The wireless "backbone" could be running OLSR [olsr.org] - as described here [tldp.org].
  • non-US cities? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saville (734690) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:46PM (#10351277)
    This is off topic, but this discussion really made my curious. All those cities listed are American.

    How do cities in other countries compare? London, Paris, Tokyo, Toronto, Athens, Seoul.
  • by valmont (3573) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:48PM (#10351285) Homepage Journal
    the city i live in has been unwired since this summer [blogspot.com].
  • by wikinerd (809585) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:51PM (#10351306) Journal
    Instead of whining and trying to persuade "the dad" to provide us with wireless, isn't it easier to build it up by ourselves?
    There is no need to persuade them to go wireless if they don't want. They see the initial infrastructure cost and are afraid of it, but I think we (the ppl) can volunteer to build up a city network.
    Just sacrifice some of your $$ to buy equipment and find some friends in the neighboorhood to start a small wireless network. Then, find more friends to join the network and collect money to buy more equipment. Be sure not to break any laws and not to allow piracy etc, so that your network will survive. After your network grows, startup a nonprofit to collect donations etc and buy a fatpipe to connect it to the Internet.
    There are already many projects working like this and they succeed. When they grow up, they even get the gov support and if they are lucky they may even get founding etc :)
    volunteerism is always better. This is clearly shown in cases like BSD and GNU and Linux and open content encyclopaedias where unpaid volunteers create much better products than business solutions etc.
    See an example in EU: http://www.awmn.gr/ [www.awmn.gr]
  • Have the city actively assist the deployment of private wifi networks by giving tax cuts to individuals and companies that participate and rework the zoning laws to make filling in the gaps easier. In this surveillance state age, do you really want to be getting internet access from the government if you can avoid it? They'll take your privacy and say that since you got it for free, you are bound to their arbitrary rules.

    The best way to approach this is for the city government to actively help private citi
  • Find/Start a company (Score:2, Interesting)

    by g3head (771421)
    Last year my community went wireless thanks to a small start up. 802Link [802link.net] started by going to the chamber of commerce and the various downtown improvement groups and convinced them to launch a wireless network, working a lot on tourism (the community has 3 or 4 big festivals a year).

    His original plan was to sell the service like an ISP but last time I talked to the owner he had made it more reliant on consulting and setting up wireless networks. Now the business is attracting as many industrial clients as c

  • I'm off to Philadelphia next month for the first time. Can anyone from the area suggest good spots to jack in as i'm sure I will need my /. fix.
  • by crazyphilman (609923) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:17PM (#10351465) Journal
    The popularity of wireless mystifies me. Although it is riddled with problems, from poor security to unreliability, people love it. Even when they're in their own homes, and all they have to do is run an ethernet cable to have a completely reliable, secure LAN, they STILL go with a wireless solution -- usually at a much higher price (paying for a base station, wireless card, etc).

    Before anyone responds to tell me how wonderful wireless is, until you can convincingly make the following issues go away, you won't get anywhere with me:

    1. Security: Anyone with a net stumbler can see your network's parameters and possibly use them to play with you. Even if you're using WEP, it'll only be as secure as your implementation. And don't forget, someone can just log all the packets you're sending and try to decrypt them later.

    2. Reliability: weather conditions can screw up your wireless signal, as can anything else that causes interference, from electrical equipment to thick walls. Furthermore, someone who doesn't like you can jam your signal fairly easily. Which, by the way, would be a lot of fun if you didn't like your neighbor. Wait for him to look really busy at his computer, and turn on your jammer. Hilarity ensues. Great fun for the jammer, not so fun for the poor sap who loses his net connection right in the middle of a download.

    Some will say that with improving encryption, squirt transmissions, better equipment, etc, wireless will improve to the point where the two issues I mentioned will go away. Fine. But this requires more processing to handle the connection, which slows the connection down. And the FCC limits how strong your signal can be.

    I just don't see how wireless is ever going to be a good solution. People will continue to use it -- of course. But people still use Windows 98, too.

    • world.

      I will start by saying I do not have a wireless network. For me, there is not enough benifits to justify the expense.

      1. Most p[eople don't care because most people will never have this problem.

      You need someone with motivation. It is not easy to configure a tool to grab somneones packets and 'decrypt' them later. That take work, sklill and knowledge. Depending on the encryption may be futile.

      Also, someone has to take the time to go looking. most peoiple have better thjings to do.

      Indoors weather pa
      • Well, let me address some of this:

        1. Hackers already play around with wireless networks. They do it all the time. Why don't you google for "Warchalking" or "Wardriving" sometime? It's a leisure activity for them, they do it because they can. It's fun and interesting. THAT is their motivation.

        2. It is only "not easy" to do these things until one motivated hacker produces a tool. Then everyone does it after a two minute download. Remember the concept of the "script kiddie"? Who do you think writes the scrip
      • Oh, and I forgot:

        During a thunderstorm, the interference affects you indoors as well as outdoors. Because it's the electric field produced by the charged clouds (and locally, by lightning strikes -- a huge current causes a huge EMF) that's causing the problem, NOT the rain.
    • Martha Stewart once described Bill Gates' mansion, and how it had all the rooms wired for high speed networking, with Cat 5 and better running inside concrete channels. Se made some sort of joke about how maybe Bill hadn't heard of wireless. (Sorry I don't remember the exact quote - if anyone has it, please post).
      One of the two people mentioned above has been sentenced to a federal prison, and one of them hasn't. That COULD reflect their actual conduct, or it COULD be just random luck.
      • I suppose Bill's house is magnetically shielded too, eh?
        • Actually, that's kind of a cool point. Although, nowadays most computers use LCDs, which don't put out as much of a signal, hence (I hope) they'd be harder to try and monitor.

          Here's a link to the Van Eck writeup (although you've probably read it, maybe the others haven't); it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen:

          http://www.shmoo.com/tempest/emr.pdf

          BTW: I bet Bill Gates' house IS shielded, although not deliberately. Poured concrete is generally reinforced with rebar, which might mess with the signal
      • That's cool... Interesting side note: if Bill Gates himself isn't using wireless, but rather cat5 in concrete channels (!!!), and he knows as much as anyone about the two technologies, well... Maybe he agrees with me about their relative merits.

        I bet he put the wires in concrete channels to prevent anyone from trying to sneak in a sniffer...

        • I figured that sneaky or honest, Bill knows that when you're worth 60 billion dollars, SOMEONE will realize it's worth a cool million just to read your e-mail. If he's not saying or doing anything the DOJ could use against him, he still has corporate rivals.
          Martha, on the other hand, is definitely worth enough for someone to spend a few tens of thousands trying to snoop on her. She spoke like that wasn't a consideration (even for Bill, let alone lil' ole' her), and I'd argue that she actually believ
    • answer:

      community and social responsibility .. efficient wireless networks require interaction with your neighbors to ensure true security and reliability .. numerous times, when my connection goes down, i'll jump on my neighbors connection, and likewise .. sharing of information requires trust, and if you can't trust your neighbors - i feel sorry for you.

      someone could just as easily sit outside your house and trip you every time you walk out to go to your car, or penny your front door .. judging from you
      • Sigh... How typical.

        People who have lived comfortable lives, accepted by others and popular in school, usually have your attitude: "People love me, why would anyone pick on me, everything's okay and people who aren't like me are different and wrong".

        People like ME, on the other hand, who have been picked on by others all their lives, think that people like you are sad and deluded.

        We know from experience that people are nasty and brutish by nature, and that the only reason they aren't killing each other i
    • The other concern you don't address is health effects. Modern lifestyles have added enough sources of carcinogens/radiation, that I'm not adding another is necessarily a good thing. Especially when there's alternatives.
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:23PM (#10351481)
    I don't think the goverment should be in the business of wasting the publics hard earned money on wireless internet access.
    • Curiously it's the government that also squandered hard earned tax dollars for the rural telephone systems that were formed as co-ops. Rural and quasi-rural governments would be well advised to find ways to attract affluent residents, tourists and others that would spend in the local economy. If setting up a few wifi points elevates the quality of life, increases tax revenues without increasing taxes then isn't in fact a good idea to do?
    • and if it generates more tax dollars?

      You get people out of the office more, they spend more.
      You get tourist to hang around, they spend more.
      You get tax money from equipment sales.

      You sell more wireless devices.

      The government wastes far less money then people relize. When you counter in the other factors.

      By your logic, the government shouldn't build roads.
  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:25PM (#10351492)
    I don't know about the other cities, but in San Francisco, it's not the city that has gone wireless -- it's a group of people within the city that have set up free wireless access points.

    It only takes one person to set up something like this. You set up your own free wireless access point and then you tell people about it. Eventually, you can meet with other people that have done the same, share information, and form a user group. And when enough of the people at the right locations have joined your group, then you'll have pretty good city-wide coverage.

  • In my town the rationale was to keep weekend tourists staying around during the week if they could swing it with our public access mesh. Tourist dollars pay for it and the mesh was really cheap so long as local businesses donated space for the mesh boxes. This requires someone integrated into the community to head up the project of course. You can't just walk up to a random small business in a place you aren't known and ask for the use of their attic and the inevitable visits to cycle power.
  • by mageos (793632)
    I am no expert, but I have had the oppertunity to work with public(government) IT admins. No offence, but some are fairly clueless. Most professional network admins have a hard enough time keeping spammers off their networks, but could you imaging a free, public WIFI city? That would be every spammers dream come true. Besides, I can thing of a million better things my taxes could do.
    • The networks are not provided by governments; they are local businesses who opt to host a wireless access point. In return, they get advertising on the login page. Speeds aren't fast enough to be usefull for serious spammers, although it would be useful for hax0rs to infect windows boxes with virus/worm software for spam gateways. This is a problem with wires or without though.
  • Seems like technicians would realize the benefit of a wireless network pretty quickly if we started attacking all the wires.

    (Don't try this at home.)
  • We've celebrated the radio, television, microwave oven, wireless telephones, and now wireless internet... among countless other devices controlled or manipulated by transmitting data through electromagnetic waves.

    My question: what health effects (defects?) will this have on us, our children, and the rest of the world as electromagnetic waves that have historically been absent from our planet's atmosphere continue to saturate our lives?

    Just curious.
  • by gtoomey (528943) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @09:07PM (#10352127)
    In Australia we have a numerous local wireless meshes that are being joined to make a mesh spanning a continent.

    The infrastructure you need included:
    - IP assignment policy across the continent
    - a node database [uq.edu.au] that has a Geographical Information System to tell you where to point your antenna to find neighbouring nodes
    - local interest groups [ddwireless.net] that help businesses & individuals go wireless & advocate at the local level

  • Gay hippy nerd tattoo factor.
  • It is unfair for tax money to pay for a service that is useless for most of its constituents. Only the people who can afford laptops will benefit from this. Do you really think that people living in poverty should have their taxes raised so rich people can get internet access in more public areas?
  • "We keep reading about cities dishing out free wireless; Philadelphia, San Francisco, Austin, TX, and many, many others."

    AHhaagg! Wrong answer! Nothing is free when it comes to the government. THANK YOU for helping increase our taxes.
  • We, as geeks, have to realize that very little of what we create has a long shelf life -- 20 years from now, just imagine the mess as a "wireless" city band-aids and duct tapes layers of new wireless technology ontop of the ancient 802.11z network that seemed such a great idea in 2004. Think back 20 years - the Commodore 64, IBM PC at a steaming 4MHz, and the Amiga. And modems at 300bps. :)
  • Since you already know about a bunch of existing free wireless networks, why not contact the people who've actually done it? That way you eliminate all the people who have opinions but no experience. By posting an "Ask Slashdot" your selecting exactly the opposite way!
  • Jerusalem will be a WiFi city [globes.co.il] within two years.

    Bizarrely, the Arab League claims that this move by Israel is a violation of international law. No, I'm not kidding [israelnationalnews.com].

  • Bristol City (not the football team ;) ) went wireless recently, and won an award [computing.co.uk] for it.

    That article also has an interview with reasons why and how they did it. It cost £3.2m which was funded by the government, local business and HP. It isn't however, just free wireless access for everyone, it is mainly for businesses and projects to make use of it - eg The first wireless application, Schminky, was launched in March 2003, at the Watershed Art Centre's caf. It allowed tourists to interact using mobil
  • My question is, who is goin to pay for it? Getting a city hooked up will cost several hundread million dollars. Do the citizens really want to pay for it, when the majority don't even know what wi-fi is? In addition, will the govt implement something when the ISPs will be fighting to death over the issue?

    As far as I'm concerned, wi-fi will likely only be implemented in some regions (maybe near city hall where the govt can hand out information, or something) or for limited areas.

    I don't think this wi
  • Why would you want your city to go wireless, it will probably be filtered like in Libraries. The American people need to learn to stop depending on the nanny state to hold their hands. What is the point of free wi-fi. I have wi-fi in my house, but eventually it's just going to be an empty marketing ploy, that doesn't mean anything.
  • http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/04/09/wo _ asbrand092104.asp
    The above URL for article: Who Pays for Wireless Cities? (Telco friendly ___)

    Some comments in the, following URL, related forum are far more interesting.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/foru ms/forum.asp?f orumid=852

    As always the AT was altered to protect the innocent.
    Posted 9/23/2004 by Michael Keegan, Manhattan Beach, CA, WiFi
    michael- -|at|- -manhattanbread.com
    Subject: wireless municipalities
    http://www.manhattanbread.com/

    Posted 9/24/20
  • Just made a post about how private wireless is poping up all over Chicago.

    Duh. The economist in me speaks out.

    How should cities establish free, city-wide wireless access?

    Tax credits.

    You are eligilble for a tax credit=cost of providing a wireless internet access to your local area. You are required to provide at least port 80 (http) access, and other capabilities are optional.

    Most companies are more than willing to do stuff like this, if they can do it on the cheap/free. By allowing them to shirk on the

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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