Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

Is City-Wide Wi-Fi a Dead Idea? 259

Posted by timothy
from the sledgehammer-ready dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember all those projects to cover cities with Wi-Fi? The BBC wants to know what happened to them. When it comes to underground wireless data access, there are obvious issues regarding implementing a wireless infrastructure in underground stations and tunnels, but above ground the BBC suggests that it may be other advancements, such as Wimax, that have made Wi-Fi a less attractive solution. PCMag, on the other hand, suggests that public Wi-Fi isn't dead at all and will make a comeback due to the increasing popularity of Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones. So, will city-wide Wi-Fi make a real comeback, or have other technologies, such as Wimax or 4G, killed the concept for good?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is City-Wide Wi-Fi a Dead Idea?

Comments Filter:
  • It's Just Form (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles (698461) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:55PM (#29408365)

    Why is the particular technology of wireless communications so important?

    • by WarJolt (990309)

      Wifi doesn't cost much for the end-user because most people already have wifi. Wifi infrastructure costs more money for the providers. At the end of the day someone is paying for it. I say we should invest in the most economic technology, but there will be a lot of people with wifi cards who don't agree.

    • by Gerzel (240421) *

      Indeed. I don't think the concept is dead, and its the concept that's important not the specific tech. Though also there are some issues going along with the tech such as who owns the infrastructure and the rules of that infrastructure that become very important and may make one less-advanced tech more attractive than another.

  • 59 square miles (Score:5, Informative)

    by The-Pheon (65392) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:56PM (#29408377) Homepage

    Minneapolis has complete downtown coverage now.

    http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/wirelessminneapolis/ [minneapolis.mn.us]

    Actually using it right now to post, doesn't really seem like a dead idea from here!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Minneapolis has complete downtown coverage now.

      http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/wirelessminneapolis/ [minneapolis.mn.us]

      Actually using it right now to post, doesn't really seem like a dead idea from here!

      You can sign up at http://www.usiwireless.com/ [usiwireless.com], its only $14.95 a month!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Goddamn. I kept waiting for that to happen when I was living there, right smack in the middle of the coverage area ... and it looks like they got it up and running just after I left.

    • Bellevue, WA (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tetsukaze (1635797)
        A wealthy city in spitting distance of Microsoft is investing in a buzz technology? Something tells me this is not a valid indicator for other cities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      Is it in wide use already? Is it holding up? How does its infrastructure and maintenance cost compare to a wider range wireless? To me, it seemed that the biggest drawback to wide area WiFi is that each base station has a very limited range, cellular and WiMax has a range of miles between towers, for WiFi, you might be lucky to cover several houses with one base station. I tried working though all of what it takes, and it just seemed like too much work and too much money spent for too little in return.

      • by Zerth (26112)

        The small cell size can be a benefit, allowing more users and/or higher speeds. If one can get the maintainence cost sufficiently low, it works out better for deployments in densely populated areas. Combine it with other uses, such as streetlights and traffic control devices, and the costs for wifi deployment drop. The real trick is getting a commodity wifi unit and not letting your city get screwed by "managed solutions" that are looking to become the next cableco.

        Wimax still makes more sense for anywhe

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by number11 (129686)

        Is it in wide use already? Is it holding up?

        It's got (somewhat spotty) city-wide coverage, and is in fairly wide use. It's half to two-thirds the cost of comparable speeds of cable or DSL (several speeds available, from 1M/1M to 6M/1M). APs on roughly a 2-block grid, it works well if you're close to one and don't have conductive things in the way (we have a lot of stucco buildings, and stucco is done on a wire mesh base that's pretty good radio shielding). There are (recommended, extra cost) wireless uni

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dieman (4814)

      I used it last weekend -- Obama was in town and the area near the stadium was covered well enough to use before going in. Sadly it didn't make it into the stadium, but it was useful outside.

    • I pulled into a parking lot in Milpitas to make a phone call and use my computer. I didn't need to be online for the call, just look at stuff, but I was pleased to see that there was a wireless signal, they've got tons of free access points all over Milpitas, and the signal was pretty good., It wasn't foolproof - they have a login-timeout browser window thingy, and connecting to my company VPN meant killed its connection so it cut me off after about 5 minutes, but that was enough to download any new email,

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)
        Unfortunately, the free wifi is about the only positive feature the city of Milpitas has going for it. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:57PM (#29408381)

    I am allergic to Wi-Fi.
    And it causes cancer.
    It probably contributes to global warming too.

  • by theurge14 (820596) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:57PM (#29408383)

    The problem I've had with it is that each access point I've encountered usually requires a login and/or a fee to use. For example, Wifi in Starbucks requires a monthly fee from AT&T (or T-Mobile, can't remember). Across the street the library is free. The McDonalds next door charges $2.95 an hour, along with the Wendy's across the corner. The lobby in the hospital is free but requires a login that only the clerk at the front desk can provide. There is Wifi in the mall that is free.

    I think that most people would prefer an all-or-nothing approach. Give me one Wifi experience or forget it. Having to keep track of a new login method every 200-500 feet is a hassle.

    • I think that most people would prefer an all-or-nothing approach. Give me one Wifi experience or forget it. Having to keep track of a new login method every 200-500 feet is a hassle.

      So tell your wireless system to ignore access points that require any sort of login. Then you can pretend they don't exist, and that there's simply less hassle-free WiFi coverage. If you were near the library or mall, you'd see that there's Wifi. Elsewhere, no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lord Byron II (671689)

        You can ignore encrypted access points, but there's no way to detect APs that use an HTML login page until after you're already connected.

        Plus, the OP's point (I think) was that instead of paying $3 here and $2 there, why not have a $40/mo fee that buys you access anywhere (home, work, school, play) you go.

        • by maharb (1534501)
          As someone else pointed out; the OP is not even describing city-wide wifi. My city has city-wide wifi but I don't use it. I could connect to it anywhere in the city with one login if I paid the monthly fee.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tagno25 (1518033)

      The problem I've had with it is that each access point I've encountered usually requires a login and/or a fee to use. For example, Wifi in Starbucks requires a monthly fee from AT&T (or T-Mobile, can't remember). Across the street the library is free. The McDonalds next door charges $2.95 an hour, along with the Wendy's across the corner. The lobby in the hospital is free but requires a login that only the clerk at the front desk can provide. There is Wifi in the mall that is free.

      I think that most people would prefer an all-or-nothing approach. Give me one Wifi experience or forget it. Having to keep track of a new login method every 200-500 feet is a hassle.

      None of those examples are city-wide Wifi. City-wide Wifi would be one provider providing wifi everywhere with one login

    • by jpstanle (1604059) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:42PM (#29408683)

      TFA is referring not to de-facto ubiquitous coverage by multiple independent access points, but by a single, centrally run mesh of access points owned and operated (at least partially) by the municipal government.

      At least in the USA, this has largely been quashed by the telcos in the courts, claiming that such networks are unfair competition to their price gouging mobile data plans.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Take a look at http://devicescape.com/ [devicescape.com]

      It auto logins to APs with web-based login screens.

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @08:58PM (#29409167)

      I think they're referring to Muni-WiFi, not hotspots.

      Muni-WiFi angered the telecom gods, and they rained storms of money up on the legislatures to prevent the airwaves from this abomination.

      The hotel/motel gods also were highly upset that their revenues would be stanched, and so also did voice much objection up on the Muni-WiFi.

      But some still lives, legends like Loma Linda CA, Berkeley, Minneapolis, and others. Some say, if the telco gods are ever smited, then many good things may once again occur in the land of the once-plenty.

      • by shermo (1284310)

        The hotel/motel gods also were highly upset that their revenues would be stanched, and so also did voice much objection up on the Muni-WiFi.

        It feels wrong that the chance of me getting free wi-fi in my accomodation is inversely proportional to the price I paid for the room.

        • They would charge for the very air you breathe if they could. Stick with La Quinta. Free open wifi, and it's usually pretty damn fast.

          It's publicly documented that many Muni-WiFi and regional attempts have been thwarted by the downtown hotels. Silicon Valley has been thwarted for this and other reasons.

          If you go on the other side of San Jose Airport, however, the La Quinta gives it away.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Muni-WiFi angered the telecom gods, and they rained storms of money up on the legislatures to prevent the airwaves from this abomination.

        Not only that, but got some "judges" to rule that it was unconstitutional for a city to put up a municipal wifi network (in some states, at least).

        Because, heaven forfend, anyone challenge the oligopoly that is our telecom industry. Competetion? Bah. I'm paying more for cell phone service now than I did ten years ago. I also used to have free tethering. Now, data a

    • I think that most people would prefer an all-or-nothing approach. Give me one Wifi experience or forget it. Having to keep track of a new login method every 200-500 feet is a hassle.

      Not on my Mac - once I've entered the login info once, it's saved in my keychain. After that it's just a matter of typing in the keychain password when I need to rejoin those networks in the future (and FWIW my keychain password is different than my login password).

      Having said that - I agree with your sentiments in general. I would prefer a unified experience as well.

    • by massysett (910130)

      Wow, the mod system is seriously broken if this got modded up to +5.

  • Its being killed by 3G and the iPhone. Five years from now few people will bother with ADSL or cable to the home, so they won't route to wifi.

    Laptops are starting to come on the market with 3G modems built in. Telcos are starting to install small cellular base stations close to their customers. Pretty soon I expect the telcos will be doing a lot of the networking which used to be done in house.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No. 3G is nowhere near enough bandwidth, and the "last mile" syndrome has been recreated: Too many 3G users sucking down bandwidth for the "AP" to be able to deliver it effectively.

      • No. 3G is nowhere near enough bandwidth, and the "last mile" syndrome has been recreated: Too many 3G users sucking down bandwidth for the "AP" to be able to deliver it effectively.

        The last mile will become the last 100 metres in areas of high demand.

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        Are you kidding? With 15Mbps being rolled out (already active in some cities) and Wifi being shared bandwidth and not that fast anyway (because it's often backed by DSL links running at 2Mbps or less) 3G stomps all over it.

        3G has it beaten on cost too.. £5 a month for my 3G dongle. I'd pay that *per hour* to log into a wifi hotspot.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:28PM (#29408583)

      Wifi won't be killed so easily. As demand for 3G grows in America, the carriers will have to upgrade their network, and we all know how serious they are about that. They'll slack and lag behind (dragging down everyone's 3G speeds).

      It will be at least 10 years before we have 3G coverage on even one carrier that can handle enough of a load to completely replace Wifi and have good coverage IMO.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        No they won't. They'll do what they typically do raise rates until the demand goes down enough to meet their supply. And if they get regulated, then they'll just kick off anybody that they deem to be fully utilizing the promised service.

        WiFi for this sort of thing is probably dead, but it won't be 3G or cell services that kills it, more likely a new technology that's more appropriate to the challenge. But, just because it's probably not going to be city wide doesn't mean it's shouldn't be a part of the s
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by martas (1439879)
      no offense, but that is ridiculous. there's not a snowflake's chance in hell that, for example, campus-wide wifi will disappear anytime in the next, oh, i don't know, 20 years. maybe what you say is true for the "general population", i.e. in random locations around cities, but there will remain many dense technological "hubs" like university campuses where wifi is pretty much essential.

      in other words, most physically co-located large organizations will have virtually pervasive wifi availability for many
    • by DrBuzzo (913503) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:33PM (#29408627) Homepage
      While I agree wifi is dead for infrastructure grade WAN connections, it's certainly far from dead when it comes to LAN applications and applications like campus-wide networking, home networks, office networks and so on. This is, of course, what it was designed for. It was not intended for widespread geographic usage like 3G systems are. I do not think we will see 3G replace fixed connections, however. Wired connections are always going to have more bandwidth because they can use the full spectrum without sharing the bandwidth with everyone else in an area. Wifi has plenty of bandwidth for most lan applications, but there's no way you can serve everyone in a large area and have high bandwidth - unless you want a router located every 100 meters or so. There's also a practice limit to how high you can go in terms of frequencies. Some schems suggest going to 4ghz, 8ghz and even 20+ ghz. The problem is as you get that high up, the signals get extremely directional and line-of-sight in their nature. Once you get that high the antenna must be pointed in the direction of the transmitter. Even having it on the opposite side of the laptop from the transmitter will not work. Also, even things like leaves on trees and heavy rain can block signals when it is that high.
    • by jpstanle (1604059) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:47PM (#29408705)

      So long as 3G providers continue to charge $50/month on top of already overpriced voice plans and cap data usage at 5 GB/month, wired internet connections won't be going anywhere.

      3G is no substitute for a proper data pipe.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by coryking (104614) *

        Dont forget to include at least $5/mo for text messages too. After all, text messages aren't data, they are 123 byte packets containing ascii, right?

        It is absolutely absurd how expensive these data plans are. Not absurd in a capitalistic sense, but absurd in that I friggen want a nice phone, but cannot justify $30/mo + $10/mo for data/text. The fact I can't have what I want at a price I'm willing to pay pisses me off :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quenda (644621)

        So long as 3G providers continue to charge $50/month on top of already overpriced voice plans and cap data usage at 5 GB/month,

        They do? I pay A$5, plus 1.5c/MB. Why is the US market so averse to pay-for-what-you-use?
        A few hundred MB / month gets me lots of email, web, VoIP, navigation. OK, not a lot of high-def you-tube clips or Linux upgrades, but you don't need that when mobile.

        3G is no substitute for a proper data pipe.

        At 2Mbps real (up to 14 on new standards) it is faster than most public wifi that I have seen, and faster than ADSL in many places. Maybe it is just your local network that is slow and expensive?

    • by Gonoff (88518)
      3G perhaps - other than the price of it. Smartphones maybe, but the iPhone will only kill the alternatives when it is technically superior and sensibly priced (competition). Until then it will be used by apple enthusiasts and those who are prepared to pay a premium for the "right" device.
      The only other thing that will make the iPhone the leader is when the USA becomes the world leader on mobile telephony and smartphones. The gap is significant and growing. Way to go Apple!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >Its being killed by 3G and the iPhone.

      The 3G networks dont have the combined bandwidth of all those DSL lines and AT&T and the rest know it. Heck, they cant even maintain basic service on the iphone, for example:

      1. I tried downloading a game on 3G from the app store. The iphone told me "Cannot download more than 10 megs on 3G, switch to wifi."

      2. Apple has banned the slingplayer client because it uses too much bandwidth.

      You honestly think this will replace per household DSL/Cable/fiber? Guess what? I

  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:59PM (#29408393) Homepage

    On a parallel topic, practically every home router now comes with WPA2 on by default.
    I'm surrounded by a sea of BT home hubs which are probably idle, and can't even connect.
    Outrageous.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851)
      What you're referring to is the biggest problem with WiFi there isn't really enough intelligence built into it for those sorts of densely packed situations. It's not really meant to have more than about 3 routers within range of each other, and even then only if their really spread out on the spectrum due to the overlap on some channels.

      If somebody manages to solve that in a reasonably cost effective way, the likelihood of a city wide WiFi set up will dramatically improve.
  • The problem was that the original plan in many cities was to have free and low cost service. I think they underestimated the cost to setup wifi across the city. The premium package planned in this area was far slower than DSL or cable services and more costly. There's also the possibility that commercial interests by cable and phone companies contributed.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:03PM (#29408413)
    Living in a "wifi city" (Minneapolis) I would like to comment on our municipal wifi and its utter failure. The signal is simply terrible in 90% of residences despite the massive unsightly box on the telephone poll out the window. Frankly this is thanks to the terrible range of B/G wireless. To get a decent signal we will need better tech like WiMax or some form of 4g. As it stands it is nearly impossible to get signal to everybody who wants it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      In my experience the problem is simply that most wirelesss chips in laptops/netbooks can't transmit far enough, if you can see an AP the problem isn't with B/G itself. AFAIK there is no DIY hack to fix this (e.g i don't the antenna mods that can boost your reception range will allow you to transmit further, but i may be wrong), although newer laptops seam to suffer from this problem less.

      • by jrumney (197329)

        AFAIK there is no DIY hack to fix this

        Install a WiFi repeater somewhere central in your house.

    • by ctmurray (1475885) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @10:00PM (#29409509) Journal
      A buddy of mine lives in Minneapolis in a stucco house. The chicken wire mesh used to hold the stucco onto the house acts as an EMI cage. So he has to be sitting next to a window to get the city WiFi. In this case I wouldn't blame the vendor specifically. But others commenting might be correct about other flaws in the system. I just think the house design for much of residential MPLS might be a contributing factor.
  • ... unless you count political manipulation by telecoms as a "technology."

    • It didn't work well in London either though over 2 administration and with much less Telecom interference. I doubt red Ken listened to the Telecom much and even under Boris Johnson I don't think it was Telecoms that killed it. The benefit of it (in london anyway) was that it would give everybody a constant connection and businesses would find this valuable, however in the advent of WiMax/3G businesses can simply get their employees those.

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:07PM (#29408441) Homepage

    WiFi has a limited future anyway so who cares? The future is becoming increasingly clear ... over the next 10-20 years most existing air protocols are likely to be phased out in favor of GSM LTE [wikipedia.org]. LTE (and the "Advanced LTE" which is likely to become the actual deployed 4G technology) offer speeds in the hundreds of megabits/sec range and latency in the ~millisecond range. In fact LTE is very close to the theoretical limits of what is physically possible to do, speed wise. LTE is also being designed with support for femtocells in mind right from the start, in fact, there seems to be growing consensus that 4G mobile networks will primarily be deployed through LTE gateways in the home first with traditional cell-tower style macrocells coming much later.

    LTE offers some compelling advantages over the mixed 3G/WiFi tech we use today. Firstly, authentication and billing are solved problems. WiFi is made significantly less useful by the way every public hotspot has its own random billing infrastructure, often with pages that don't work well on mobile devices. Because GSM/UMTS sim cards are secure devices, the same convenience that 3G offers today will be possible everywhere, with operators either paying for the ADSL backhaul on their own, merging with cable/DSL companies to become vertically integrated radio/landline companies, or simply paying people who run LTE femtocells for the cost of the backhaul.

    Secondly, LTE is a natively IPv6 based protocol. That means that if you use an LTE/4G enabled NetBook in combination with a home femtocell, there won't be any crap related to WiFi NAT routers as long as you're connecting to an IPv6 site. The devices will probably be controlled and leased by the operators and so won't suffer the same featureitis that has made home internet so flaky and requires so many bizarre workarounds like UPnP today.

    Thirdly, hand-off actually works in mobile protocols. 4G/LTE devices will be able to transparently hand-off from your personal home femtocell to a macrocell when you walk outside, to a 3G or even GPRS/2G cell if you roam out of range .... all without you even noticing. Try that with a WiFi based system!

    Finally, the LTE protocols include support for true single channel multi-cast. For this reason it can not only replace 2G/3G and WiFi, but also digital terrestrial TV broadcasts, as well as digital and FM radio with no loss in spectrum efficiency due to needless retransmissions.

    LTE + IPv6 is the most efficient and user-friendly way to use limited spectrum, period. 20 years from now other air protocols will seem like an anachronism.

    • 20 years from now other air protocols will seem like an anachronism.

      That long?

      • AMPS was only decommissioned last year, right? That dates from the 80s, so 20 years seems reasonable.
        • AMPS was only decommissioned last year, right? That dates from the 80s, so 20 years seems reasonable.

          Yeah but nobody had phones back then. We have had two or three generations of GSM since the system was installed. Now that the applications are in place infrastructure will have to follow, fast.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      The devices will probably be controlled and leased by the operators and so won't suffer the same featureitis that has made home internet so flaky and requires so many bizarre workarounds like UPnP today.

      this part worries me, as the openness of the "leafs" if what has made the "tree" grow as impressively as it has.

    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:56PM (#29408761)

      Firstly, authentication and billing are solved problems. WiFi is made significantly less useful by the way every public hotspot has its own random billing infrastructure,

      Funny most places i go to offer their WiFi for free, i find this a much nicer billing solution than my phone company charging me whatever the fuck they want.

      Secondly, LTE is a natively IPv6 based protocol.

      WiFi is protocol neutral, so all your IPv6 stuff is meaningless as you can use IPv6 over WiFi, just as easily as IPv4 over WiFi.

      Finally, the LTE protocols include support for true single channel multi-cast.

      While im no expert on wifi protocols there seams no reason that multicast can't be worked into them.

      Thirdly, hand-off actually works in mobile protocols.

      I'll give you this one, however I'd rather have a fully controlled home network and only be at the whim of my phone company while im outside.

      • by alen (225700)

        for multicast to work it has to be planned and deployed by the same company. with wifi the place that runs the access point has the cheapest telco circuit, the whole thing is firewalled from the rest of the network and it's all made for quick network access. LTE is designed to offer advanced services over the network. think your cell phone network replacing your radio and a variety of other services

  • WiFi hotspots work for covering businesses, but they spend a lot of money for covering and maintaining a small area.

    For something like a whole city, WiFi simply isn't the right technology: its range is too limited, the protocols aren't designed for it, and it requires too much maintenance.

    Cities can (and probably should) try to offer access in public places: parks, public squares, public buildings.

  • by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:14PM (#29408483) Homepage
    The range is too short, it always has been too short for any of this sort of stuff. I wish there was a longer range version of Wifi that an ordinary person could actually buy a router for without having to spend thousands.

    4G and LTE will always be controlled by large, evil telcos and you will always need a subscription. I doubt anyone will be allowed to set up their own private LTE access point as nice as that would be. It would be nice if there was a version of LTE that you could use in unlicensed spectrum with affordable equipment and without dealing with a mobile phone company and proprietary 'locked down' equipment like that femto cell Verizon has with a GPS to make sure you are not setting up an AP outside the country
  • Cablevision is gradually WiFi'ing their entire subscription area.

  • It's wifi's fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tiger_Storms (769548) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:18PM (#29408513) Homepage Journal

    I'd bet on it killing it's self. I've worked with wireless (WiFi) for 5 years implementing them in RV parks, Hotels, and Apartment complexes. There are a lot of issues with just the nature of wireless that cause people to fret away from it.

    One of the first reasons is there's no seamless way to roam from one access point to another, if it were possible to shell out a few thousand dollars and make all access points go to one gateway using a fiber optic underground network, then it "might" stand a chance but yet again you'll run in to the problem of your radio's not being aggressive enough to roam from one AP (access point) to another on the customer's side. Me and a few of my coworkers in the past have tried many different methods of making it seamless only making it 'kinda seemless' by using 2-3 different radios.

    Second reason, is the very nature of wireless it's self, this 2.4ghz, or even 5ghz isn't good with distance as well with going in/around objects that get in it's way, You could be in an RV with an AP less than 20 t, with a 10+ db radio and get 1 bar of signal, but move to a window and it'll go to 4-5 bars? Buildings aren't made to let WiFi go through it. Being in Portland and watching their wireless city project die was sad but they couldn't shell out the support they would need in order for everyone to get connected, and stay connected. We're talking hundreds of brick buildings with very tiny windows. I'm sorry the makers of WiFi never expected it to ever be used in a city-to-city setup, and that my very well caused it to die. Wimax, and G4 networks, are made to tackle city's and City WiFi will never compair.

    • by FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @08:23PM (#29408919)

      You could be in an RV with an AP less than 20 t, with a 10+ db radio and get 1 bar of signal, but move to a window and it'll go to 4-5 bars?

      Note: being inside an RV is similar to being inside a Faraday Cage.

      • by swillden (191260)

        You could be in an RV with an AP less than 20 t, with a 10+ db radio and get 1 bar of signal, but move to a window and it'll go to 4-5 bars?

        Note: being inside an RV is similar to being inside a Faraday Cage.

        Depends on the RV. Most of them these days have done away with the aluminum skins in favor of fiberglass. Older ones, like mine, are very good faraday cages.

    • And that is why I personally think IPv6 is stillborn and won't catch on. IP just doesn't work for the increasingly mesh-style networks we are using. Wifi roaming isn't a bitch because of Wifi--it is a bitch because of IPvX. All these other "3G" or "4G" aren't going to fix the problem, they have the same problem that Wifi does, they use IPvX. They are just a way for huge cell companies to charge us up the ass for internet we already pay up the ass for at home. They hack soon-to-be legacy protocols like

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        And that is why I personally think IPv6 is stillborn and won't catch on.

        Kinda ironic you mentioning that, given that one of the features explicitly baked into IPv6 is roaming/mobility.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)

      One of the first reasons is there's no seamless way to roam from one access point to another

      Sure there is. Shell out the bucks on some decent enterprise-class APs from Cisco, Aruba, Meru, and friends instead of just tossing up a bunch of Linksys/D-Link consumer-grade widgets. It's good enough for VOIP.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:21PM (#29408549)

    The BBC wants to know what happened to [city wide Wi-Fi].
    Shouldn't a news organization like the BBC do some reporting and find out? Certainly more than simply phoning up someone at BT.

  • The 2.4GHz (and higher) frequencies simply can't penetrate through walls and stuff well enough.

    But wasn't one of the goals of moving to digital broadcast television to free up some of those nice low UHF and VHF frequences? Hell, even just getting down to 900MHz would be huge, and once you get down in to the regular VHF frequencies, you can push the signal through damn near anything.

    • Neither are dead. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Narcogen (666692)
      WiMax operates at 3.5 Ghz, 2.5 Ghz, but also at 2.3 Ghz.

      There are also manufacturers who build WiMax gear at arbitrary frequencies when those licensed frequencies are available to a company that wants to deploy WiMax. These are sometimes outside the WiMax Forum's certified profiles, but if the vendor and the operator agree on it, that's up to them. There's little reason why one couldn't deploy WiMax at, say, 900 Mhz or even 700 Mhz, assuming that the spectrum is available to the operator and the manufact
    • by bendodge (998616)

      I'm in the Boise metro area, and I've recently started selling Clear WiMAX. In my biased opinion, it's awesome. You would not believe how well it sells. All you have to do is give the customer a demo and they fork over. Which is really easy - just plug the modem's MAC into the system and activate it as a demo, and it works. Hand customer modem - they plug it into a power socket and the Ethernet into a PC or router. Presto. Not a click more. (We don't usually do USB modem demos, probably because of theft.) W

  • ...

    -- Don't raid my house FBI, there's nothing to find here except dirty socks and full ashtrays.
  • I dunno about other places. But a pretty good chunk of downtown Charlottesville, Virginia is covered by free municipal wifi, and it works OK. Not everywhere, and no, you can't "seamlessly roam from one hotspot to another," as they say.

    But so what? The signal is reasonably reliable where I've tried it, on and near the downtown pedestrian mall, and the throughput is significantly better than that provided by the coffee shop or the library, even with the trees in full radiation-absorptive leafy-mode.

    Maybe "

  • This is a contest between capitalist greed and the Common Good that has barely had the battlefield defined as yet. What we've seen so far are just the clashes between the upstart Rebellion's scouting parties and the evil Empire. No one has come forward to organize the splinter cells and create a united front yet. If the Empire succeeds in dividing and conquering, there may never be much of a Rebellion.

    Luke and Leia, where are you?

  • They are deploying these [cisco.com] in public locations like parks and stores. Unfortunately they are only deploying this network in their service areas, and they are not public. You need to be a cablevision subscriber to access them.

    Why yes, I am a subscriber - so let me tell you about them.

    If you are outside they are great - assuming there is one near you. Once you go into a building - forget it. The signal falls off a cliff, and the service is unusable.

    As cool as public Wifi would be, I'm not holding my breath

  • I'm sitting in Hong Kong Airport - free wifi seems to be working well - the transit area of the airport seems to have more shops than my home town does so I guess that makes it a small city in its own right
  • Both will be gone any day now. [/sarcasm]

    Seriously, are we talking free WiFi or pay? Free, city-wide WiFi may be dead, but city-wide WiFi will happen, but probably in the form of something like 4G. I am currently online using Xohm WiMAx. Plenty fast, and cheaper than the alternatives.

  • I'd guess it is dead due the wrong connotation with dead cars.
  • by eggboard (315140) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @11:05PM (#29409851) Homepage

    I wrote a long article for Ars Technica nearly a year ago [arstechnica.com] that looked at the past, present, and future. The reality hasn't changed much since then.

    Most so-called municipal Wi-Fi projects involved a handful of companies absorbing all the initial network cost in exchange for some to no city business and access to citizens for coverage. EarthLink, MetroFi, Kite, and AT&T were the most prominent. EarthLink got out of the business; AT&T still does some metro-scale networking (Riverside), and MetroFi and Kite shut down.

    There are a ton of networks run entirely or nearly so for public safety and/or municipal purposes that have been very successfully in Oklahoma City and elsewhere.

  • Most of the people reading this are part or fully nerd. My mother is not. My brothers and sisters are not. My grandmother is not.

    This is the fundamental reason why City/Municiple WiFi is doomed.

    Lets face it. People like to buy subscriptions to things. Cable Phone Internet.
    When they subscribe the vendor does all the thinking for them. The vendor either does the setup or provides instructions even my father could follow. As a subscriber you have an expected level of service from the vendor. For exampl

  • Far as I see the solar powered routers on street corners have been uprooted and sold for surplus. Story we got was that throughput in the test quadrant was never anywhere close to what was promised and contracted for with the insinuation that the model itself is flawed.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.

Working...