Wi-Fi revolution
March 4, 2002 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Wi-Fi revolution as reported by the times. Kind of exciting.
posted by subpixel (6 comments total)
but "Antennas that can extend a network's average range by several miles can be bought for as little as $40" -- this I gotta see...
posted by subpixel at 8:26 PM on March 4, 2002

subpixel, I believe the antennae they speak of pertain to point to point communications only. ie, if you don't have line of sight, you won't get a signal.
posted by machaus at 8:32 PM on March 4, 2002

$40 will buy a lot of chips, Pringles chips, that is:


And it is point to point.
posted by jeffbarr at 9:39 PM on March 4, 2002

We were shooting 1.1 Mbs point to point just under 20 miles with Breezecom equipment three years ago. Of course, we were shooting from a 60 foot tower using a 24 dB gain 6 degree antenna to a 300 foot grain elevator with the same antenna. Antenna connections are susceptible to water invasion, aggravated by freeze-thaw cycling, and this affects reliability. We currently use $400 sealed panel antennas directed to 60 degree segments for local access, and follow a painfully developed 8 step protocol for establishing outdoor cabling connections.

Then, there's lightning, finding quality wall warts(yes, DC converters can cause problems, trust me), debugging failures, measuring performance and monitoring latency, etc, etc. Wireless works, but getting it to work reliably over time(months) is work, and can't just be done over distance without a lot of details being taken care of through what turns out to be dogged persistence.

One strange result though is that my customers in corn country(literally) can buy better connectivity cheaper than I can in the "big city".

Also, getting there is not the problem. Security will be the big story in wireless, especially for ad hoc networks. Check the sniffer tools for wireless, and Google "war driving".
posted by dglynn at 11:34 PM on March 4, 2002

Also worth linking is the companion article by John Markoff discussing wireless mesh routing technologies. And this morning on ZDnet there is a more sober view concerned with security issues which only mentions open networks in passing: On the flip side, this also opens up all sorts of underground broadband access co-op possibilities, where neighbors share a single account--the Internet age equivalent of "free love."
Note: underground, co-op, free-love = hippie.
posted by xiffix at 6:14 AM on March 5, 2002

Oh, and while we're at it here's a new Salon article by Paul Boutin on the same phenomenon. Up to speed, yet?
posted by xiffix at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2002

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