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Wireless Networking Hardware

Lanlink Linking The Coasts 340

Dan Bricker writes "A guy in Parma Heights, Ohio has a website to promote an idea of linking the east coast to the west coast using standard off-the-shelf 802.11 equipment. He is aiming for a July 4th, 2006 first coast-to-coast ping. This project appears to be totally volunteer based, With no other stated reason than fun with pringle cans and bad weather, and do it just to do it. Can this be done? What real world applications does this have?"
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Lanlink Linking The Coasts

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  • by Hollinger ( 16202 ) <(ten.regnilloh) (ta) (leahcim)> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:44PM (#5951719) Homepage Journal
    Yes. No. I would think the time and effort could be better spent trying specifically to get broadband (or at least WiFi) net access to rural areas.
  • by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:47PM (#5951737) Journal
    but this absolutely would be percieved as the first step towards a public controlled public broadcast venue for news.. and seeing as how the beiggest complaint in politics amongst the general public is the lack of interconnectedness between the east political environment and the west coast equivalent, I would see this as a milestone towards an ultimate goal of broadcasting bills, propositions, votes, general news, as well as the future forms of blogs.. i see this as not friv, but profoundly progressive and long due.

  • very difficult... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:49PM (#5951750)
    Ok, as we all know there are some pretty desolate regions of the US. Now it would be possible to throw a bunch of routers in the middle of the desert, but they would have to be battery powered or something. The most significant problem would be getting everything to work correctly without even a single down router. Assuming each router covers a tenth of a mile, you'd need about 30,000 routers to make it across the US. Dozens will break or have problems every day, so you'll need at least two per site. That means a total of 60,000 roters. At $100 each that brings the total to $6 million. The battery powered routers for the desert will obviously be more expensive though. Also you'd have to stop people from stealing these somehow, which would be a serious problem.

    In conclusion, it would be really hard and really expensive to do this, but it is possible.
  • Emergency access (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50PM (#5951757) Homepage
    Creating ex-temp webs like this might assist insurance adjusters and other computer-needing personnel to work better in emergency hot zones... it would be nice if a company out there started manufacturing the "cans" for emergency use and the FCC made some modifications to the rules for emergency usage ... so every little town could have a few "wi-fi" kits in storage to chain up when a hurricane has leveled everything.. you could also throw some authentication mechanisms on the idea and build a quick "emergency VoIP network" the same way. Just a thought from the thoughtbrew: www.bigattichouse.com [bigattichouse.com]
  • by vkg ( 158234 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:52PM (#5951763) Homepage
    Something like 70% of internet backbone is owned by half a dozen companies. The RIAA & co are putting increasing pressure on businesses and universities, and backbone providers may be next.

    The Government is, frankly, outright hostile to many forms of free expression, and some basic civil rights we've come to take for granted (abortion rights, for starters, never mind the Bill of Rights).

    This project may teach valuable lessons about using open standards to form a non-owned, alternative internet backbone.
  • by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @12:04AM (#5951847)
    For point to point on 802.11b you are allowed 8 watts of EIRP. Since the strongest radio you can buy is 200 milliwatts. Unless you are using an amplifier that means you would have to be getting over 16dbi gain on a pringles can.

    What is the dbi gain on the pringles can? Even if it was over 16 dbi you could always use a 30 milliwatt card. Then you could have up to a 24 dbi gain on your antenna. I seriously doubt a pringles can offers more than 24 dbi gain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @12:09AM (#5951879)
    I would think the time and effort could be better spent trying specifically to get broadband (or at least WiFi) net access to rural areas.

    ... Which is controlled by mega-corporations like AOL-TimeWarner, SBC, Verizon, etc. If we are content to let them lead they're going to lead us back into passive activities like television. The Internet is already moving in that direction. Servers are prohibited on the vast majority of broadband providers' networks meaning that you go back to being a consumer relying on others for content. Most people can't afford the costs of colocating with a large Internet provider who in turn ends up peering with these mega-corporations anyway. We must take back control of the Internet and ensure there is always a grass-roots alternative to capitalist greed.

  • Ping time? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @12:20AM (#5951937)
    So, does anyone want to make a prediction for ping time across 3,000 miles, and grid only knows how many hops? Does anyone know the record for most routers from one end of an IP network to the other today?
  • by Reapl ( 96156 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @12:24AM (#5951961)
    I am thinking that you mean the royal 'we' there and are somehow talking for the whole of US society?

    Just because your social/political grouping sees it as a basic part of 'life' does not mean that society in general sees it as such, and I would hazard to guess that if it was such an entrenched social defacto standard as you suggest then no government would be concerned at allowing it.

    But basically, there is no overwhelming social majority on one side or the other. There are big camps on both sides, with some valid concerns and some crap too. In the middle is the large group who don't consider abortion even an issue until it directly involves their lives, and could most likely not give an honest choice either way.

    We can tell where you sit, but you can't tell the world where my opinion rests and have no right to speak on my behalf.
  • No, NO, NO!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @12:32AM (#5952003)
    As long as he's not obsessed with 802.11x, this is great! For the longer stretches, he should use IR lasers or something that can really throw the bits around.

    Fair enough. Although fiber throws the bits around better.

    If he can succeed, the long-term implications are fantastic. Internet will become too cheap to meter. Inexpensive laser and other types of LOS relays will join windmills and silos as familiar rural landmarks. AOL and Time-Warner can eat all of America's shorts. There is nothing to say the same economic forces that may eventually make proprietary software obsolete can't make proprietary networks obsolete too.

    Yeah. And if everyone laid fiber to their neighbor's houses and got routers for it, the same thing could happen. That'd be really cool, too, and probably about as cheap. But it's not gonna happen anytime soon.

    The hard part about free wireless has always been the "upstream". If this guy can get a viable continent spanning link, it may go down in history just like the link between... what was it... Duke and UNC? You know, the one that started the internet in the first place. Let's see... we have internet, internet 2, and now internet 3. I can't wait. I think Internet 3 could eventually replace internet 1 and make internet 2 jelous.

    There's a ping-time issue. The cost of receiving and retransmitting those packets is non-trivial, both in time and in energy, especially if you use WEP. Count on pinging across the network to take minutes. Like I said, laying fiber would be much cooler for free internet. But it's just as not-gonna-happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:12AM (#5952163)
    The Midwest, the Rockies, the desert, all of that is going to be financially unviable unless a corporation gets behind it.
    I think the only way it will happen is if some ISP/Telco thinks it's a good marketing idea. And in that case they'll probably run it along major highways through those desolate areas.
    Advert example: Two Verizon trucks driving towards each other down a desolate road in the middle of the US. Each planting the very last (golden spike) wireless connection on each side. Shows family driving through the middle of nowhere USA with a kid in the backseat surfing the web - "Drive coast to coast wirelessly, Only with Verizon."
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:17AM (#5952180) Journal
    Assuming each router covers a tenth of a mile

    Am I the only one that thinks that is an INCREDIBLY pessimistic estimation? There are plenty of wireless links that go several miles at a time. Let's assume we have a router every 5 miles, then we'd have better speed than if we'd gone to their limits, and if one failed, there would still be a link, albeit quite a bit slower...

    you'd need about 30,000 routers to make it across the US.

    So, instead of 30,000 routers, let's try 600 routers... And more than that, let's not forget that much of the US is densely populated enough that the 802.11 cards of end-users would function as routers, so even less would be needed.

    Dozens will break or have problems every day

    How incredibly crappy are these routers of which you speak? They are solid-state devices, there is very little to go wrong with them. At best, I'd say dozens per year, not every day.

    you'd have to stop people from stealing these somehow, which would be a serious problem.

    If by "serious" you mean "non-existant"... There are "Call Boxes" all along interstates. Each one has a great deal of electronics, and a solar pannel on top. I haven't heard of a single one being vandalized, nor have I ever seen one that looked like it might have been.

    In conclusion, it would be really hard and really expensive to do this

    In conclusion, you are either trolling, or you just have no idea what you are talking about.
  • by Florian H. ( 6933 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:41AM (#5952442) Homepage
    The other bummer is that a pringle can is only slightly better than a loose cable end, as a comprehensive comparision between different antennas by the german c't magazine has recently shown. You should rather use a coffee can with a larger diameter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:55AM (#5952483)
    Using the cheap 802.11b falls under inappropriate use of technology. It's like trying to hammer nails with a screwdriver.

    Why would the radio frequencies/power levels
    in use by 802.11b be "right" for such a thing?

    If the target is "cheap distance", you would
    think having everyone's computer make the furthest local phone call to another computer modem, would be farther reaching and more reliable. sure only 28Kbaud, but that's okay. (assume local phone calls are free)

    Just need people with two phone lines and two modems and the right software. Or you could have the computer hangup and dial out to forward packets/receive packets from the other direction and
    alternate back and forth! (if just one phone line)
    Big enough buffers at each computer, would help deal with this extra latency....

    Be funny to have a coast to coast ping of 24 hours!
  • wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnimeFreak ( 223792 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @04:45AM (#5952808) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be smarter to have towns and cities WAN'd and setup to link with eachother through some sort of Internet service. I cannot see linking the entire country with 802.11b feasible considering you got the Rockies blocking the West Coast.
  • erm.. speed? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by putty_thing ( 637042 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @07:32AM (#5953266) Homepage
    am i the only one thinking that this will be slow as crap? even if it was 802.11g, its still shared bandwidth, and with that many nodes..
  • by MicroBerto ( 91055 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:51AM (#5953675)
    I dare you to show me any other country or civilization that can or would do this on such a large scale. Critics might say that Americans are terrible, conceited people, but we are the most generous of them all. Just takes a few rotten ones to spoil the whole batch. You won't find something like that anywhere else in the world.
  • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @11:01AM (#5954779)
    Theres about 2500 miles of space between those 2 coasts that's for the most part uninhabited.

    Thanks for the stereotypical perspective on fly-over-country (where I live). Sorry to cause you an extra few hours of flight time between the coasts.

    Actually, it's been done before - many times over. There are numerous transcontinental microwave networks. Many are now dormant or retired - such as the AT&T Long Lines and its radio relay routes.

    By talking 802.11b, this simply is going to be ugly. 600 router hops from coast-to-coast? No central design/administration? Trans-continental networks aren't like open source software projects .


    You could do something like in a limited fashion on the east coast, but not across the country.
  • Er, maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wirlw9nd ( 644985 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @11:43AM (#5955157)
    If you look at a long-haul fiber map, you'll notice most of the fiber runs the I-10 corridor.

    A couple of people have mentioned transiting the Rockies. Not a good idea. Cellular systems don't do it. Living in Western KS, I've found that Cellular systems do not enjoy a two-way flow the length of I-70.

    Eastern CO is supported from Western KS, via I-70. In KS, Salina sits at the top of a "T," where I-70 meets I-35. Head South, and I-35 turns into I-45. You get to Houston (which I-10 passes through). Western CO just doesn't have much coverage.

    Then there's TX. Assuming you could get solid coverage to Kerville (a little West of San Antonio), it is a _long_ , empty haul to El Paso (ok, you have Junction, Sonora, Fort Stockton, etc). There just aren't that many people in West TX, till you get to El Paso.

    Next up, NM, AZ, etc. Hot hot hot. Then, cold cold cold. Not a good environment for unprotected electronic gear. Going to need plenty of local Alternative Energy sources as well.

    I know there are plenty of other state-level, middle-of-nowhere link-up issues. I'm just talking about the one's I know something about.

    At a minimum, it is going to take the use of the Interstate Highway system (for communication equipment to be set up, and allow easy access to be repaired), and guys with their HAM radio tickets (at least Technician class) to be able to legally opperate equipment with enough grunt. Repeaters don't require call sign ID at regular intervals, I think.

    Line-Of-Sight is about 9.2 miles, at Sea Level (IIRC).

    Potentially a pretty neat hack.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."