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Community Wireless Networks in the UK 83

Some random reader points us to this story about community wireless networking in the UK. Not really any new news, but maybe the publicity will get more people involved. As usual, if you want to set up your own node, you can start at Nocat or PersonalTelco.
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Community Wireless Networks in the UK

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:00PM (#3376548)
    is at wirelessanarchy.com [wirelessanarchy.com]
  • I envision a future in which the entire world is wirelessly connected, one in which you can walk anywhere on Earth (with the possible exception of the oceans), and still surf the 'net (or whatever has replaced it by then) with your wireless equipped laptop or handheld.
    Of course, we have a long way to go before we get there. As the article mentions, the 2.4 GHz band is slowly being used for more and more transmissions. Unless we regulate usage in some way, the wireless world will become impossible to achieve, as the noise would be too great.
    Another problem is that of price. In order to have a fully connected network, you would have to have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of nodes placed throughout the world. The unfortunate truth is that SOMEONE would have to pay for that, whether it is a private company or government(s).
    Once you DO have such a network, however, control becomes an issue. If the network is privately controlled, someone could be making a bundle off of everyone's usage. If the government controlled it, it could be used for propaganda. If I had to chooose one over the other, I would choose a group of nations (the UN?) to control it, and it could become another sanction they could place.

    Can anyone else see this happeneing?
    • I can certainly see this happening: here's how.
      Make internet access a utility.
      If there was a law like there is for the US Mail, telephony, and I'm sure many other public services that stated that everyone had to have access to the internet (as long as they wanted to pay) then usage would skyrocket. Cel towers would sprout digital antennae and you'd be able to get access from anywhere you now get cel access. Small receivers for these towers would appear on the market, and people would snap them up so that they could check their e-mail from their palm or laptop. Router and firewall sales would go through the roof as everyone (read: geek) who cannot currently get decent access (like me!) suddenly was able to, inexpensively, route WAN packets across their home LAN. The web as a communication tool would be much more viable, since once a critical mass of users was reached, the user base would snowball because nobody with a computer could be without speedy access.
      I don't expect to have days when I wake up and only get 90 volts worth of electricity to my house. If someone told my I had to use morse code instead of voice because my lines were cheap or I was too far from the central office, I'd get my gun. The fact that a huge number of users are still stuck with 56k (or less) dialup access is unacceptable.
      I don't know why some company doesn't realize that there is a huge demand for 10 megabit access and people are willing to pay for it. I know if someone called me and said "would you like 10-T access run to your house for, say, $60 a month, I'd ask where to sign. I see all this access... Cable, DSL, ISDN, and none of it is available where I live. My options are 56k (which is more like 28k) or satellite (which sucks for reasons I won't explain here). The first company that runs fiber to neighborhoods stuck out in the boonies wins... go!
    • >As the article mentions, the 2.4 GHz band is slowly being used for more and more transmissions.
      >Unless we regulate usage in some way, the wireless world will become impossible to achieve, as the
      >noise would be too great.

      You call that noise? I call that connectivity! Why shouldn't I use them for accessing the internet? The 2.4 Ghz air waves are free; even if the backbone isn't. Why shouldn't they use me? It isn't necessarily the case that because they use my equipment, I pay for their traffic; our ISP can have them sign on through a firewall (VPN) and ensure they don't use more traffic per second than they've paid for.

      If the 2.4 Ghz band is becoming used for more transmissions; that's largely a good thing. Multistandard transmitters are already appearing.

      >Once you DO have such a network, however, control becomes an issue. If the network is privately
      >controlled, someone could be making a bundle off of everyone's usage."

      I expect that it may be simply free, i.e. paid for via other means. The roads could be like that too, except the government levies a tax which is (in the UK) about 10x the amount they actually spend on the roads. Otherwise, it will be a once a year/month licence no doubt.

      >If the government controlled it, it could be used for propaganda.

      Yeah right. So you've grown the internet via wireless tech and suddenly the whole internet is either owned by someone OR (exclusive OR?) its all just government propaganda?
      Really? I don't think so...
    • I'm not sure why you think there needs to be a government mandated control of such a network. The whole point of the ISM band is that it's unregulated - but I'm pretty sure that the powers that be didn't expect 802.11 technology to be quite so sucessful. 802.11 is designed to be highly tolerant of noise, and I suspect the density can get quite high, either as it is now, or with a derivative technology.

      How about another model? One were everyone, or a larger percentage of the community all get a commodity wireless access point and join up in a management framework, basically managed chaos, like the Sydney Wireless [sydneywireless.com]. I have a couple links [nyx.net] on my community wireless page, too. With enough network overlap, you'd have pretty good coverage - maybe better than standard cell links. The bandwidth on these technologies is quite high, and 11mbit may only be the starting point.

      But oh, what a world it might be if control of the communications medium - or, perhaps better phrased, control of A communications medium - went truely into the hands of the masses. I already know of two college campuses where students are running their own dorm networks to combat draconian policies on file sharing and gaming using 802.11. What if that ramped up to city wide? What if people start setting up their own WANs, and leasing their own fiber backbones? Or hell, even running their own fiber backbones, like has been done in Sweden?

      Remeber BBSes? There was no tradegy of the commons there, and those formed pretty sophisticated networks towards the end. And no doubt caused a few LEOs to have kittens then..

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Joltage is also tring to build out a wifi network.. Check it out.. http://www.joltage.com
  • by nomadic ( 141991 )
    What is with it with slashdot and wireless? I mean, they're as obsessed about it as all those tech/business magazines...
  • EXACTLLY... this isn't any real news, and that alone i could care less about. My problem is i'm just jealous of these people more and more with every story that comes out!

    200GBps wireless community LAN... in my city? never. ugh.
  • http://awip.truffula.net
    http://austinwireless.net
    http://www.milehighwi reless.net
    http://free2air.org
    http://consume.ne t
    http://bcwireless.net
    http://www.bawug.org
    ht tp://www.houstonwireless.org
    http://nycwireless.n et
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This tooth is made of metal
    fine wire and ShoeGoo
    One of these days this tooth is gonna browse through all Yahoo!
  • A lot of groups have set up their own networks, without the help of Consume. We're trying to do similar at http://www.glasgownet.com along with our http://www.backnet.org.uk friends in Edinburgh
    • "without the help of Consume."

      You're massively overestimating the level of organisation within Consume. :)

    • The problem being that people go to consume.net's site, see that no-one is within 20km of them, so they don't bother to register. I'm guessing that there are a lot of people who are just waiting for someone to appear near them. You might well find that there are people about 200 yards apart, both interested, who don't know each other, waiting for someone else to make the first move...

      Sadly, that's a common human trait.

      Oh, and don't go putting Glasgownet's url on /. - my router's just set off the smoke alarm!
  • check out seattle's [seattlewireless.net] adhoc network.
  • I'm part of the Glasgow Wireless Network project --- GlasgowNet [glasgownet.com]. We are just starting up but hope to become part of the Consume.net system that was mentioned in the article. GlasgowNet is attempting to provide free public wireless internet access to the Glasgow community. We seek to build on the philosophies of 'open source' and 'free software' and create a philosophy and application of 'open networks'.

    Also you may be interested in the Edinburgh Wireless network --- Backnet [backnet.org.uk] which is a little more established than Glasgow. Both projects are generating a lot of interest but we need as many people as possible so if you are interested then check out the Consume.net Node Database [consume.net] to find out who's near you.

    The GlasgowNet [glasgownet.com] page also has some news, reviews and articles that may be of use to people interested in Wireless networks. Both Backnet and GlasgowNet have IRC channels so feel free to come on and have a chat. The Backnet channel is #backnet on irc.backnet.org.uk and GlasgowNet is #glasgownet on the same server. If you don't have an IRC client then GlasgowNet is testing a Java applet IRC interface [gla.ac.uk] that you may want to try.

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