Back from the Dead?



WorldCom Plans N-LOS MMDS Trial
MMDS, in the 2.500-2.685 Ghz band, provides a wireless alternative to DSL and cable modems. MMDS, at 2.5 GHz, has more bandwith (185 Ghz) than the unlicensed 802.11b band (85 Ghz) but less than the unlicensed 5 Ghz, 802.11a band, (200-300 Ghz bandwidth). WorldCom and Sprint Broadband both own about $1 Billion dollars worth of licensed MMDS service but put the service on ice last year, waiting for Non Line of Sight technology.

The time may be here. According to Broadband Week, WorldCom plans to roll out the next-generation service late this year or early next year.

The licensed Multi-channel Multipoint Delivery System (MMDS) can reach 35-miles from a single tower “super cell.” Sprint Wireless (FAQ), owns about 90 US licenses and subsidizes consumer gear in their $40/month MMDS service. Sprint wanted a cheaper, non-LOS device to serve millions. AT&T’s Fixed Wireless sold out leaving Worldcom Broadband Wireless as the dominant business player.

One potential N-LOS equipment provider for Sprint might be NextNet Wireless (FAQ). “We have had great success with our initial field testing — transmitting and receiving in densely populated areas without line-of-sight, or the need for rooftop antennas”, says their CEO. They split a 54 Mbps cell into 9 Mbps sectors then feeds subscribers a time slot on their OFDM carrier. They claim “absolutely no line-of-sight restrictions and a typical capital cost of less than $100 per subscriber”.

The family of 802.16 Metropolitan Wireless LAN standards is optimized for the “last mile” and could provide Sprint with voice. With MMDS to the home and 802.11(e) QOS around the home, Worldcom and Sprint might deliver local and long distance as well as high-speed data – without a land line.

Nokia’s 5 Ghz Mesh Proposal can relay through neighboring nodes. Voicestream uses Nokia cellular switching gear and owns Starbuck’s Wayport system. Nokia’s mesh could be Voicestream’s brew for hot spot delivery.

Wireless Everywhere



Wireless to Go:
Portland Community College has wireless computers available for anyone for use in the library. Starting April 1st, you can roam anywhere in the building. The library uses a scanner system to prevent thefts.

Seattle’s Best Coffee at Portland State provides free 802.11b access AND will loan you a FREE Sony wireless laptop. Seattle’s Best coffee shop is located at the end of the Portland Streetcar Line, 1100 SW 6th (503-224-4001).

PSU’s Wireless network (PubNet), is now available in; Science Building 2 (1st and 2nd floors), Millar Library ( Basement, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors), Park Blocks (between Cramer Hall and Neuberger Hall), Cramer Hall (north-east corner, on the basement and 1st floor), Smith Memorial Center (1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors of Smith Memorial Center (except Library East), Graduate School of Education (3rd floor), Urban Center Building (2nd floor). To use it, you need to be a student with an Odin account. Their SSID is pubnet.pdx.edu.

All this begs the question; how many weeks before someone provides a fee-based wireless backbone down 5th and 6th. Walk up to the top floor of the College of Urban Affairs (above PSU’s bookstore) and you get a straight shot down 5th. The ajoining Distance Learning Center has a straight shot down 6th Avenue. A possible scenario would be Voicestream offering PSU $3000/month to mount a 802.11b antenna on the school’s roof. It might compete with an interfering, CDMA, 2.4Ghz backbone by Qwest and Navini feeding Intel APs at storefronts. Will they cancel each other out AND waste millions in court? Could happen.

Free, continuous public internet access might be provided up and down 5th and 6th by a 5 Ghz channel. Can a few idealistic individuals overcome multi-million dollar telecommunications firms and lobbists? The Revolution ALWAYS starts with a few idealistic individuals. But the window may close forever in 6 months.

Perhaps the City of Portland should provide an “open access” system, providing equitable access to the 5 Ghz backbone by multiple providers.

Easter Eggs and Geocaching



Easter Holiday Specials!
If biting off the heads off candy bunnies isn’t your thing, you might try the Easter Egg Archive. David and Annette Wolf offered these top 10 software Easter eggs to PC Magazine columnist, David Coursey:

10. Windows NT Programmers in the Screen Saver
9. Windows 95 Product Team
8. Windows NT Favorite Beers and Rock Bands
7. Photoshop Strange Cargo
6. Word 97 Pinball Game
5. Quark XPress Alien Deletes Your Document
4. Excel 95 Hall of Tortured Souls
3. Excel 97 Flight to Credits
2. Internet Explorer 5.0 Wacky Search Menu
1. Excel 2000 Dev Hunter

At Wednesdays Personal Telco meeting I sat next to a couple of friends who were Geocachers. Geocaching is an adventure game for gps users. Individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards.

Dave Ulmer of Portland is a Geocaching pioneer. He was the first to hide a stash, then post the location on the Net. He posted the coordinates in the sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroup on May 3, 2000, and by May 6th the stash already received two visitors. Dave came up with the idea knowing that the applications for GPS use would increase with the removal of Selective Availability. In less than a year his GPS game has become an international phenomena. Dave Ulmer doesn’t go geocaching much any more, but people like Jeremy Irish, Webmaster of the official geocaching site, are maintaining the tradition. It took over geocaching coverage from Mike Teague’s Geocache.org that sprung from Dave Ulmer’s group.

It works like this. Fill a waterproof box like a GI ammo can or plastic container, full of neat stuff organized in zip-lock bags. Find a good hiding spot somewhere out in the great outdoors that is accessible to the public. Record the Latitude/Longitude or UTM coordinates of the hiding spot. Then publish the stash location on the Geocashing Home Page.

Some interesting Oregon Geocache web sites include:

Mozilla and Star Office Born Again



Free, Free, Everything Free!
The much anticipated StarOffice 6.0 won’t be released until May but StarOffice 6.0 for Linux is available now for download if you’re a Mandrake Linux Club Member. It’s comprised of five distinct components: StarOffice Writer (wordprocessor); StarOffice Calc (spreadsheet); StarOffice Impress (multimedia presentation); StarOffice Draw (3D graphics); StarOffice Adabas (database).

The new features include a new XML-based document format that results in dramatically reduced file sizes (compared to StarOffice 5.2) and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. For those wedded to Microsoft programs, Codeweavers ($54), runs Microsoft Office under Mandrake and Redhat.

Meanwhile, Extreme Tech reports Mozilla 1.0, the long-awaited final build of the open source Netscape browser could be available by next week.

Happy Easter!

CenterScan and Sony Team Up



Big Bucks for CenterSpan
Hillsboro-based CenterSpan, after buying peer-to-peer pioneer, Scour.com, has announced $5 mil in equity financing and an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment. Sony will providing music to online service providers that want to offer secure, cost-effective downloadable and streaming music to their subscriber base. This non-exclusive agreement marks the first time Sony Music Entertainment has made its artists’ music available to a digital distributor for use on a secure peer-to-peer delivery network.

Sony’s Clie handhelds play music , of course, and Sony’s new NR70V color cellphone ($500), is to die for. It features a color screen, built-in camera and mini-keyboard in a compact clamshell.

Mapping on Handhelds and Cellphones



Maps on the Move
E-City Software, a mapping technology for handhelds is moving to cellphones – in “3D”. The 3D views of streets, buildings and points of interest in major metropolitan cities making map reading more intuitive.

Their current list of 3D City Maps includes; Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Vancouver, Canada. Other 3D city maps on the drawing board include: Boston, Dallas, Denver, Hawaii, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Salt Lake City and many more.

ESRI’s software is behind the Seattle-based firm which sells its products on the basis of both annual licensing fees and revenue share arrangements. Expect to see cellular companies pick this up including AT&T Wireless (NTT DoCoMo), Cingular, Nextel, and Verizon as well as handset companies Motorola, Qualcomm and Nokia.

Jupiter Media Metrix estimates that U.S. wireless Web users will increase to 96 million by 2005. There are currently 133 million wireless subscribers in the United States.

The Wireless Networking Visualization Project at the University of Kansas combines War Driving with aerial photographs. The signal strength of wireless LANs is coded by color and overlayed on aerial photographs making it easy to instantly see the range of different “hot spots”.

Internet mapping is a powerful tool. Check out the free map content available at ESRI’s Geography Network. Vexcel has off-the-shelf, 3D terrain data of Portland while LandInfo.com and the EROS Data Center have photo repositories.

Portland map resources include Metro Data Resource Center, PortlandMaps.com, the Portland Green Map and Eco Trust. Other resources include the Oregon Coastal Atlas and my own Oregon Telecommunications Atlas. Caida’s Global Fiber Map is a national fiber map using Java and MAPNET software.

Open GIS and OpenLS Testbed promise better portability. The Open GIS MapServer, used by Minnesota’s Recreation Compass with a vector GIS-based database.

Personal Telco’s Interactive Map was created largely by Perl genius Matt Hickey and is being maintained and modified with help from Eliab Helon, Don Park, Bill Holmstrom, Pat Callahan and others. Thanks everyone for creating such a terrific resource!