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Wireless Networking The Internet Hardware

Baltimore Inner Harbor To Go Wireless 230

An anonymous reader writes "The City of Baltimore has made free wireless internet available in the Inner Harbor in hopes of bringing in more tourists and business conventions. According to this article on Sunspot Internet service will be available free of charge to portable computers from the Baltimore Science Center to the World Trade Center along the touristy waterfront. Need to check your e-mail when sailing the Chesapeake Bay? Just dock at the Rusty Scupper and whip out your laptop."
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Baltimore Inner Harbor To Go Wireless

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  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:00AM (#7103495)
    Warsailing here I come... I'll bring a new meaning to piracy on the open seas.
  • I always enjoy my time at the inner harbor when in Baltimore. Now I can get work done while I lounging as well. I like it.
  • Is this going to be a recuring theme? Free internet outside of Starbucks?
  • by KodaK ( 5477 ) <sakodak.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:02AM (#7103521) Homepage
    I can't say it's helped draw in business yet, but it's here [usatoday.com].
    • Yeah, I don't see how something like this would bring in tourists. "Travel hundreds of miles to use the same internet you can at home." Wireless acces might make things more convient for the tourists once they got here, but I doubt anyone would choose to come because of it.

      Business conventions, however, make a lot of sense. This could also be a good idea for cities working on revitalizing parts of the town. It would both increase the value of the land to businesses, as well as making it a more plesent plac
  • Dock? (Score:3, Funny)

    by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:03AM (#7103525)
    Just dock at the Rusty Scupper and whip out your laptop

    Why bother? Just make sure you pick up a can of pringles before you set sail.
  • Security (Score:1, Insightful)

    How long before some idiot who assumes a level of security and has his/her credit card numbers sniffed, sues the City of Baltimore? And since there's no disclaimer given to people before they get access, there might actually be a case given most juries understanding of technology.
  • Leechers (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wonder how long it's going to take for someone to suck up all the bandwidth by using this for warez uploading or spam? It's a nice idea otherwise.
    • I don't know... but it would be possible to block some unwanted traffic. If the whole thing was NAT'd, then you'd only be able to set up your leet w4r3z server on the wireless network. SPAM would be a problem, but I'm sure that most big providers would block that netblock and not accept anything from them. Just my $0.02.
  • by sixteenraisins ( 67316 ) <(moc.kcalbdnaelprup) (ta) (mailliw)> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:04AM (#7103540) Homepage
    I mean, can you really take a Wi-Fi equipped laptop and download mp3's to your heart's content without being tracked down to your IP? Or launch a DDoS attack anonymously?

    Again, I guess you hafta take the good with the bad. I can imagine it won't be long before these wireless providers start paying attention to security on these networks.

    • You are not talking about security, you are talking about authentication. You can still launch a DDOS over an encrypted connection, using a dynamically-allocated IP address. Likewise, you will be able to download an mp3 (or a http page for that matter) using 128-bit encryption. There are basically two choices: give every user a traceably-unique identifier, or just live with the consequences of providing a public service.


  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:05AM (#7103546)
    I've got free wireless broadband in my town, too. I had to get an antenna to get it to my building, but it works great, and it helps my business a lot by saving $100+/month on a (slower) DSL connection.
    • I don't know if I would rely on a free service for a business. You don't have any uptime gaurantees, and you don't know that it's going to be there tomorrow. If you don't absolutely have to have Internet access you could get away with it, but if you rely on it at all for income you may be setting yourself up for a huge disapointment.

      Good luck with your business though, seriously.

      • I have a retail store, so it's not essential, but so far, uptime in my town has been excellent. The nice thing that I can do is settle credit card transactions online instead of over a modem, which cuts the settlement time from about 20-30 seconds to about 2 seconds. Very nice. I'm lucky. A $75 Yagi directional antenna, and that was the only expense, ever!
  • I love this idea. I hope we see more of it in more public places, like parks and libraries nationwide.
  • Sweet for Otakon! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2Flower ( 216318 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:07AM (#7103561) Homepage
    Every year Otakon holds one of the biggest east coast anime conventions at the Baltimore Convention Center, right on the Inner Harbor. If the WiFi reaches that far, I might be able to wank my inner geek by not only attending a japanese animation convention while wearing a schoolgirl costume with mechanical power-up accessories, but actually posting live cosplay photos back to my website at the same time.

    Life is good. Or sad. Or good!
  • Also good for otaku (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 )
    Otakon [otakon.com] always holds its conventions in Baltimore Inner Harbor, just off the waterfront. This would be nifty for running portable netcams and updating weblogs/fan pages with details about fanmade works and cosplay.

    I mean, if you're going to geek, geek out fully, right?
  • Just dock at the Rusty Scupper and whip out your laptop.

    I almost didn't make it to the end of that sentence. I'm glad the last word was "laptop".
  • Down here, the big thing is the Beach, aka Ocean City, asseteque, etc. Tourism in baltimore? Well, lets see..theres an airport..and its a big town/small city.

    Who here would go to a big town/small city just for free wireless when theres a beach a couple hours away??
    • by Skater ( 41976 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:24AM (#7103707) Homepage Journal
      I've lived in DC for four years. I've been to Baltimore many times during that stretch (a couple times a year), but I haven't made it to the beach once.

      Baltimore has a great aquarium, the (currently closed) B&O railroad museum, Fort McHenry, the science museum, and on the waterfront a lot of shopping and restaurants. I've also gone to Baltimore to see shows like Penn & Teller. There are plenty of things to do in Baltimore.

      So, I would go to Baltimore before the beach. Even without free wireless, which is irrelevant since I don't have a wireless network card and my laptop is too old to run one.

      (And I love beaches, too.)

    • What's most likely to happen is that people living in the surrounding area will be more likely to come spend time and money at the Inner Harbor. Right now the Inner Harbor is a nice part of town to visit, and it's where you go for some shopping or to show visitors from out of town around, but once you've been there a few times you don't have a lot of incentive to go there. With wireless access, free or otherwise, we'll be able to go sit and work (or play) in a lovely setting. Attracting people in the middle
  • Travel Advisory (Score:4, Informative)

    by techsoldaten ( 309296 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:09AM (#7103583) Journal
    Just in case you're thinking of going out to try this, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is notoriously expensive and you will be paying for access, just not to an ISP.

    At most garages, it costs more than $10 to park, the restaurants in that area serve tasty but expensive food, moderately overpriced shopping stores surround consumers, and random Orioles fans, despondent over the team's performance, may accost you at any time in that area.

    You would be better served going to Fells Point and playing video poker at any one of the dozens of bars.

    • Dont forget to stop by the hard rock cafe, and spend 15 bucks on *the crappiest* hamburger you'll ever eat in your entire life.

      Strangely enough, the food at the Hard Rocks in Toronto and Niagra is actually palatable. What's the deal with the B-mo Hard Rock?
      • Once Baltimore gets a Hard Rock Cafe, they are no longer cool.

        Before anyone mods me down, I should mention that I live and work in Baltimore.
      • What's the deal with the B-mo Hard Rock?

        Perhaps it is related to the fact that you can go into ESPNZone and get the second-crappiest hamburger you will ever eat in your life.

        This is just how they do things in Bmore, lots of effort and shouting, little real results. This would explain why, despite millions in city improvement dollars, over half the city is still a slum, and anything outside the waterfront is sketchy.

        Even this current project fits in with the "lots of effort and shouting, little real res
    • Just in case you're thinking of going out to try this, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is notoriously expensive and you will be paying for access, just not to an ISP.

      Amen, only one place worth going down there - the Wharf Rat. Same beer and better food than the Fells Point location.


  • by lugar ( 561993 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:11AM (#7103595)
    It'll be interesting to see how closely the wireless access is monitored. A government-provided portal to the Internet. Scary thought. It's got to be monitored to some degree, right? Otherwise it's simply a great open portal for spammers.
    • It's free (beer), so it's good!

      It's provided and monitored by Big Brother, so it's bad!

      It's free (beer), so it's good!

      It's inherantly insecure, so it's bad!

      It's inherantly insecure, so it's good!

  • Traffic Wireless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LegendOfLink ( 574790 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:12AM (#7103607) Homepage
    I live in Chicago, and let me tell you, what they (all big cities, not just Chicago) need is wireless connectivity through rush hour. It would be damn skippy to be able to read a few stories on Slashdot while sitting 45 minutes on the Ike without moving three inches.

    Of course, I'm neglecting to think about all the accidents that might be caused...oh well, I guess we can sacrifice safety to read /.
    • A better bet than wifi would be just to use a GSM celphone and a PDA or something. With a bluetooth connection between the two, you wouldn't even have to hold them next to each other like IR -- just stick the phone back in your pocket and you are reading /. on the ike. ...or you could take the metra and avoid the traffic altogether :)

    • Uhmm, I don't know if i want people in their cars using wi-fi. Now maybe having such as system opperated on city buses and trains would be a good idea.
  • WiFi (Score:3, Funny)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:12AM (#7103610) Homepage
    So this means that I can be floating on a boat, enjoying the sun, the smell of the harbour and reading /. What more could a geek want apart from a girlfriend, faster laptop, respect from hispeers

    Great :)

    • What more could a geek want apart from a girlfriend, faster laptop, respect from hispeers

      A spell checker?

  • You know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Meowfaceman ( 637882 )
    I think maybe the crackheads and quite regular shootings I see every time I drive through that asshole of a city might need a little more attention than wireless at the Inner Harbor. I live 10 minutes from Baltimore, by the way.
  • What inner harbour? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:14AM (#7103625) Journal
    Isabel blew much of into the bay.

    Seriously, though, B-mo needs to do more than just provide free wireless. Cleaning up the panhandlers, crackheads, pot peddlers and other assorted dirtbags would go along way to revitalizing the district's nightlife.

    It's a cool place to go, it's a shame the city's so dirty and crime ridden. Working in the public safety field, and living in the area, I've spoken with lots of b-mo cops, and morale there is so low. They're just so overwhelmed with typical inner city crime that they've become completely apathetic.

    Last year when that crack dealer burned down some ladies home (because she supposedly called the cops on him), and killed her and her 5 children, it should have sent a wake-up call, but the b-mo police just hit the snooze button.

    Oh well, wireless is pretty cool, but it's not an area that you'd want to sit in the open with your two thousand dollar laptop.

    • No joke. I was in Baltimore in the inner harbor area for a SANS network security training. My hotel was about 3 blocks away. Twice I was verbally threatened and promised with immediate physical harm while making this this 3 block walk in the week I was there.
    • by mosch ( 204 ) *
      The inner harbor isn't that terrible. There always seems to be one or two bums asking for money or cigarettes, but it's not more prevalent than it is in any other major city, really. It's simply what happens when you put relatively affluent and impoverished areas near each other. I've never felt unsafe carrying cash for tasty food at Hampton's, Brighton's or the Rusty Scupper, as the tourist zone always seems to be fairly well policed. Personally, I'd love to be able to sit by the harbor and take care o
    • Exactly! I was gonna say - instead of providing gimmics like this, they should pick up the trash in and around the harbor. That might help attract tourists and customers! I have been all over the counrty, and Baltimore and the inner harbor was almost the dirtiest place I have seen (excluding New Orleans during Mardi Gras).

      I don't know much about the crime rate, since I was only there one day . But the homeless people will enjoy the free internet access!

      Seriously though, if the harbor were clean and ni
    • Seriously. This year at Otakon was especially bad. Way more pandhandlers, and more security incidents.

      It made an impression when a parking lot attendant told me that for my own protection I really needed to leave my car in a garage if I was going to leave it overnight. The parking lots aren't safe, apparently, and there certainly were lots of street people hanging around.

      Jon Acheson
  • The wrong attitude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:15AM (#7103639) Homepage Journal
    But Paul Dowling, owner of Believe Wireless, a Towson-based company that charges customers $29.95 per month for wireless Internet access in Canton, Fells Point and elsewhere in the city, said he's worried that too much free service could drive companies such as his out of business or away from the Baltimore area.

    "It's hard enough to compete against other companies. If the city starts providing for free what we make people pay for, it could really hurt us," Dowling said.

    This is exactly the kind of attitude that hurts technology and customers. It results in monopolistic companies trying everything possible to stick to the existing model, and try and kill of competition (albeit superior in technology and better for the customer).

    Microsoft's been trying to hurt Linux as much as possible, because it's a free alternative to their OS, which could potentially kill them.And ofcourse, our beloved RIAA's been trying to kill away a newer, technologically better solution, rather than trying to innovate and provide alternatives that people would pay for.

    The right attitude should be to enhance their product so that customers would be willing to pay them for it, over the other cheaper (or free) alternative. Sheesh.

    • Your point MIGHT be valid if we weren't talking about the Government competing with a private business. That's not supposed to happen. A business can only use funds that have been voluntarily given to them by customers/investors to stay in business while the Government can force you to hand over tax revenues to fund whatever they want.

      If the company who donated the equipment to the city was running a free hotspot as an advertisement for themselves that'd be one thing, but by getting the city government inv
    • Dowling is complaining about exactly the same thing as you - a monopolist abusing his powers. Look at it from his point of view, a large organization - the government - comes in. It used its deep pockets -- tax revenue -- to undercut his price structure. Selling the product at a loss. Dowling is unable to compete with someone who is willing to give the product away. He goes out of business.

      This is very similar to what Microsoft did to Netscape. And it is generally agreed that Microsoft was in the wro

    • Being that I operate a WISP I know the frustration felt when someone offers something for free that you are selling. It is extraordinarily difficult to convince people your service is better. They don't always understand the reason they should use us.

      They don't comprehend that we guarantee them the bandwidth they pay for. They don't always understand that they are more secure on our network than than they might be on the local coffee shop's network. It doesn't always occur to them that we offer tech su
    • by vees ( 10844 )
      I called them to get service to my house two months ago and they never returned any of my calls. I think that's more likely to hurt their business than a wireless harbor.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:18AM (#7103662) Homepage Journal
    This will be a great benefit for people visiting Baltimore for conventions. The convention center (as I recall) is just a short walk from the inner harbor, so while taking a break from seminars and trade floor groupies, you can plug in without having to tromp back to your hotel...

  • When I go someplace, I want to do things I can't do from home. And when I'm there I rather enjoy the weather/sights/activities rather than checking out the Internet.
    • by jot445 ( 637326 )
      Would you like to book your next hotel room a little cheaper than you can by calling? Use the internet to book it, buy it at auction even, which can save you 60%-80%.

      Maybe you want to know whether the marina has all of their boats rented for the next day? Luckily the marina just came online with their inventory system and it's now available on the web.

      Just two fine examples of why you want the internet around even if you are vacationing. The internet is (also) a tool to be used to make your life easi
  • by deander2 ( 26173 ) * <publicNO@SPAMkered.org> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:24AM (#7103710) Homepage
    haha! this is a quote from a company that sells a $29.95/month hot spot service, and is upset with the city's new offering:

    "It's hard enough to compete against other companies. If the
    city starts providing for free what we make people pay for, it
    could really hurt us," Dowling said.

    DUH! ;-p

    i do think that metered wifi access will fail as a business model. virtually every business where the cost of tracking and billing access is MORE than the cost of providing said access becomes just another gratuity. (like a public water fountain)
    • Ahh yes, another triumph for Big Government (tm) over private industry!

      And if this is administered as inefficiently and with as much incompetence as most other government beaurocracies, is this 'free' (actually paid for by Baltimore/Maryland taxpayers) service really going to be worth not having to pay for reliable service that thrives on remaining high-quality? I think not.

    • $29.95/month is not metered access. $29.95/GB or something is metered.

      </pedant> (man, i do this a lot)
  • It's just a clever ploy to reduce the bandwidth bills on the Badtz Maru [tamaroa.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Would ye be liking some sea fries with that crabby patty, matey? SPONGEBOB! I'm not paying you to lie around leeching the bandwidth.
  • Once these sort of wi-fi areas become more pervasive, it should be incredibly easy for the Adrian Lamos of the world to do their work - drop anchor, drop bomb, sail on.
  • Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:40AM (#7103846)
    Being a long-time resident of Baltimore, I must point out that the crime in the Inner Harbor is not as bad as you think during the day. I'm not sure if I'd use it as a safe spot at night, but for standard touristy stuff, it's fine.

    I like the idea of free wi-fi. Go to (Hooters|HRC|whatever) grab some food, find a nice spot to sit down outside, and surf the web while enjoying a decent lunch. Combine that with a few fun attractions (boat tours, science center, ESPN Zone), and it has the makings of a fun day out that doesn't require you to give up all contact with the outside world.

    Why you're bringing the laptop on a fun day out is beyond me, though... sometimes, we should just unplug, I think. Maybe it's for PDAs with wi-fi (and lots of batteries)?

  • come for the orioles, stay for the WiFi.

    PS - Last time we checked, there were enough open business networks available, city sponsered ones aren't necessary.
  • this will keep me from being at school because now i can sit in hooters all day with my laptop.... THANK YOU BALTIMORE!
  • Anybody think of immediately after reading the story?

    Sherrif: "'Scuse me while I whip this out"

    Crowd screams as the sheriff reaches for his front pocket
  • I've thought about this for a while. By putting a transmitter out near the channel buoy and a notifier that users should try connecting at that point they can point people to navigational charts, highlight hazards that may not be on charts, show weather and tides, point them to the appropriate guest slip and handle payment for that slip. Ultimately, the idea is to create a portal specific to the needs of the maritime community.

    The big issues then arise is that do you really want people running the boat a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    will be surviving the three blocks between the parking garage and the inner harbor with your $2000 laptop.
  • while sailing Chesapeake Bay?

    Now you can! ;>
  • I've been to the Inner Harbor several times in the past few years... each year is nicer and nicer. More and more touristy... but a nice weekend away from home.

    With Camden Yards so near, it's a good weekend if you love baseball, and your favorite team is in town.

    I wouldn't consider it to be dangerious for the most part. Fromt the stadium to the harbor is well lit, and crowded before/after the game. The convention center has good security.... and the waterfront is well kept as well.

    Unless your somewhere
    • Yeah, I was there a couple of months ago (in a hotel with really sucky internet access, why didn't they put this in before that?). I liked it a lot, nice walks, nice waterfront. Little too much of the "upscale" chains -- Hard Rock Cafe, etc.... but still nice.
  • Now if only they could assure people that they won't get wounded by random Baltimore gunfire while they surf the internet...

  • I wonder if they realize that they just wireless-enabled a 2600 Meeting [2600.org] ?

    Should be plenty of fun this friday [meetup.com] !
  • The Washington Post says [washingtonpost.com] Verizon just announced they are rolling out high-speed wireless internet for $80/mo in Washington DC and San Diego. Industry analysts are skeptical that Verizon can make any money. Hmmmm... <sarcasm>I wonder why.</sarcasm>

  • For those who watch HBO, now Avon Barksdale and his crew can see which cans the dockworkers are smuggling drugs in, realtime.