Wi-Fi Drive By

Netstumbler currently only works with Orinco Wi-Fi cards but it’s being ported to Intersil’s Prism-2. You can get one from the Wi-Fi Supply Guy. GPS units for Pocket PCs include Pharos and Teletype. Download Netstumber (Mini Stumber), plug in your Orinoco card and (optionally) a GPS unit. You’re good to go.

According to Wi-Fi expert, Michael Codanti,

“If you are just looking for a cheap GPS to use with only your PC, you can get a Rand Mcnally GPS with their software for about $75. It hooks to the PS/2 port of your computer for power (with an optional lighter adapter) and the serial port. All it does is spit out NMEA data. No external antenna connector, and initial acquisition time is pretty bad, but it works pretty good otherwise”.

An iPaq ($350) with an Orinoco Wi-Fi card ($60), GPS unit ($150), and windshield mount ($60) could map the hood. On a bike.

Conversely, GPS Trackers like PowerLoc and Airbiquity’s aqLink can track your bike. GPS trackers use GSM, AMPS, CDPD and Wi-Fi to send GPS data back to HQ (or your home computer) so you can watch fleet movements in real-time. Maybe bar pilots should wear them. The Portland streetcar map is live and local. Location Based Services include LocatioNet which provides Vector Maps for wireless operators and Portland-based Qsent which can hail a taxi. How about Virtual Guides beamed free to visitors or commuters?

Today, Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management announced the launch of Phase II E-911 wireless services. Enhanced 911 essentially makes every cellular phone a tracking device. Phase II enables EMS personnel to pinpoint caller locations between 50 and 300 meters. Edge Wireless is the carrier providing the services, and Airbiquity will provide the GPS snap-ons for mobile phones and the server software used at the public safety answering points (screen shot). Phones with integrated GPS will soon be mandated by the FCC. Carriers can locate callers either through network-based technology that triangulates a caller’s location based on proximity to cell towers (Phase I), or through a phone with an integrated GPS unit (Phase II). Phase II phones with automatic location identification (ALI) were originally mandated to reach 100% by the end of 2002 but the program has been delayed.

The four-county region is by far the largest geographic area in the United States to implement Phase II for wireless users. Nearly one-third of all accident victims in rural areas do not arrive at the hospital within an hour, largely due to the inability of public safety providers to quickly locate them and reach the scene. Some 30% of the 150 million 9-1-1 calls were made using cell phones, in 2000. BTW, 511 is a national number for traffic information. Several states have hot lines with the latest traffic info although Oregon is not one.

Here’s a rundown of the most popular methods of position location capabilities being built into cellular networks from www.Unstrung.com.

Each of the methods used to obtain location information has its own pros and cons. Operators usually choose a variation of one or more of the systems, depending upon which application best suits the legacy network already in place.

Schools Go Unwired

Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth, MIT, Drexel, Indiana University, University of Delaware, University of Virginia, New Jesery Institute of Technology and SUNY Buffalo.

Portland State’s Wireless network (PubNet), is available in the Science Building, Millar Library, Park Blocks (between Cramer Hall and Neuberger Hall), Cramer Hall, Smith Memorial Center, Graduate School of Education, and the Urban Center Building (2nd floor). Portland Community College has a wireless library. State educational include OPEN (Oregon Public Education Network). Oregon students in 280 public high schools and 21 ESDs have a $20,000 teleconferencing video unit using the Oregon Access Network. The teleconferencing system in Oregon schools needs bandwidth but schools pay up to $1200/month for connections. Commercial Wireless ISPs in Portland including Winfield Wireless and KISTech Wireless might cut their bill in half. Beaming 20 Mbps to a school from OHSU might be a cost/effective solution.

You don’t have to be a Benson High School graduate. Just Wi-Lan.

Portland’s I-Net will be divided into High and Low Capacity users. The high capacity users consist of 300 government buildings, public and private schools and universities, public libraries and selected non-profit organizations. The low capacity sites include 1,000 traffic signals, bus stops and digital monitoring devices. The city-run I-Net may provide a cost/effective backbone. Or not. After years of trying and hundreds of thousands of dollars, the I-Net and Portland’s IRNE still aren’t connected. The city of Portland runs the Integrated Regional Network Enterprise (IRNE), a broadband telecommunications network that will carry all voice and data communications for the City of Portland.

Education is a $810 Billion business. It gets tons of government grants and still costs a fortune. Video servers like University of Oregon’s IPTV system using Cisco IPTV 3400. Portland State Courses and PCC On-line classes use WebCT. MIT is putting all their lecture notes, tests and classes, on-line. For free. Wireless Education List Serve has more information. Educational DVDs that play on a $199 X-Box or Playstation-2 and packaged with live conferencing is one possiblity. Jim Johnson is a voice in the wilderness.

Worldcom says goodnight

The San Franciso Cronicle reported today that Worldcom will sell their wireless unit. It has roughly 1.7 million subscribers nationwide and sells service through independent vendors. Worldcom doesn’t own their own cellular network, so it must pay rivals like Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless to provide the service. No word on MMDS. Worldcom and Sprint both own about 30% of the MMDS (2.5GHz) licenses in the United States. The band was recently cleared for cellular telephony (where the money is) and Sprint is now testing out a 2nd generation Non line-of-sight service using “no truck roll” Navini CPEs.

Sputnik and other Satellites

Sputnik Community Gateway claims to turn any Intel-based laptop or PC into a turnkey, full-featured wireless gateway. Integrated software manages access by any wireless laptop or PDA. Version 1.1, released on April 29, 2002, features:

  • PCI card support
  • PLX card support
  • Linux kernel 2.4.18
  • Enhanced autoconfig of 802.11b card drivers
  • Support for the latest PCMCIA cards based on the Intersil PRISM II and PRISM 2.5 chipsets
  • Smaller ISO image (was 49 MB, now 30 MB)

Sputnik provides software for Private 802.11 Networks, Public Access Networks, and Paid Subscriber Networks.

Joltage Networks has a similar wireless package. It allows coffee shops and community networks to load the software and sign up wireless customers. Clients who pay $1.99 per hour or $24.95 a month (for up to 60 hours and 500 MB of download), don’t need software. They just add a Joltage connection profile to their network settings and log on anywhere they can find an affiliate hotspot — there are over 45 locations so far.

Boingo Wireless, another aggregator of “hot spots” was the first to offer flat rate pricing, nation-wide. They use Portal Software’s Infranet billing platform for their back-end solution with a different fee structure, about $7.95/day or $75/mo for unlimited service.

Rob Flickenger’s NoCat implements a third-party authentication system, designed to give node owners an alternative to the potentially risky “open gateway.” Written in Perl and designed to run under Linux, it:

  • Presents the user with a network login prompt via an SSL-protected Web page.
  • Verifies user credentials.
  • Securely notifies the wireless gateway of the user’s status, and authorizes further access.

It’s used by many Community LANs such as Personal Telco’s Access Points.

Another “free” community LAN technique “flashes” free Linux software on certain (obsolete) access points. It eliminates the PC, running community networking software right on solid state memory. It also works like a mesh network providing connectivity to nearby nodes. Instant802 has a FAQ on this still largely experimental technique.

Jim Thompson has designed a couple of devices that are ideal for Community LANs. The Musenki M-1 can act as a wireless bridge for networked devices, provide wireless backhaul as well as local access, for a fraction of the cost of competitive solutions while the Musenki M-3 supports up to 3 radios, of the same or different protocols, in a single AP.

AirBridge is promoting “one-click installation” with no software to load or configuration setting to make.

IP3 Networks has a hardware/software system that features built-in billing and IP security.

The Pronto Hotspot Networking System, has an integrated hardware and software solution for about $1500 that supports 802.11b, 802.11a, and Bluetooth. 802 Planet reports the hardware is about 8×5 inches and looks like a DSL modem. “You simply take the unit, plug it in. No hard drive, no CD drive. It’s a true plug-and-play solution.”

Right. Maybe a Cable Modem with integrated 802.11b or DSL with integrated 802.11b running Linux is the ticket. Something like an Intel Wireless Gateway with Sputnik or Joltage software and Navini’s wireless backbone might cut the wire and deliver a one-piece package.

Wi-Fi on a stick.

FCC Delays 700 Mhz Auction (kind of)

Flarion and Arraycomm, plan mobile IP telephony networks. Sony’s Station.com is conducting tests with Flarion’s wireless. Viacel plans low-cost COFDM networks. Viacell’s always quotable chief, Bob Miller says, “We plan on distributing one million free COFDM receivers in each of twenty markets within 18 months of COFDM being allowed for a free service” [for broadcasters].

“Free” datacasts to millions is one possibility. Two-way mobile broadband is another. The 700 Mhz spectrum (FAQ), in the Lower Band, (Block C) consists of a 12 MHz swath (2 x 6 MHz paired) at 710-716 MHz and 740-746 MHz.

The FCC received 153 applications for the 700 MHz band, mainly small telecommunications carriers, local carriers and governments, universities and at least one individual. Lynch Interactive, a multimedia holding company, plans to participate in the “C” Block. Bill Gates’ private investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC has a piece of it. Can Paul Allen be far behind?

Mesh Networking on a Chip

Mesh Networks has put mesh networking on a chip for broadband mobility. Their system works with a variety of protocols including 802.11a/g and their own proprietary system. They’ll demonstrate the system at the 802.11 Planet Expo on June 10, 2002 using ViewSonic’s SuperPDA and Tablet PC. A PCMCIA Card is available.

Mesh networking allows users to communicate through neighboring nodes when a direct internet link is impossible. Combined with fixed wireless backbones like Navini, Aperto Networks, BreezeNET, IO Span and Wavesat or phased array antennas like Flarion and Array Com, mesh networking may deliver true broadband mobility without the overhead of cellular. The company will test their system in both the 2.4-GHz and 5.7-GHz bands with trials in Orlando, Washington DC, Denver and Dallas. Pop ’em on light poles. Call the Firehouse and order some EMS PDAs with IPV6 pronto!