Nokia & Sony: Free WiFi for Webtablets



EarthLink is offering FREE internet service for Nokia N800 users on EarthLink’s municipal Wi-Fi networks until January 1st, 2008.

The EarthLink Wi-Fi network is currently available in the following cities:

The $400 Nokia N800 web tablet (review) allows portable web browsing and email access. The Devicescape service also automates logins to enable your web tablet to connect automatically to all of your favorite hotspots.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile and Sony are offering free Wi-Fi access for six months from more than 7,000 T-Mobile Hotspot locations using Sony’s PlayStation Portable. Sony Mylo users also get free access to T-Mobile WiFi.

The $200 PSP needs Sony’s 3.30 firmware update. After that, you can to sign on to T-Mobile’s WiFi network and play games, surf the Internet, download movies or music, and chat.

You must log into the T-Mobile Hotspot network by March 28, 2008 (a year from now) to take advantage of the six month promotional period. Once the six months expire, PSP users will be able to purchase a Hotspot subscription at a “special rate,” although no details of the pricing plans have been announced.

The new firmware also provides 720 x 480, 352 x 480 and 480 x 272 playback resolutions of MPEG-4 AVA (H.264) video and improves loading speed.

Geotagging Photos – Cheap


Automatic geo-tagging of images just got cheaper and easier using the Breeze Systems’s Downloader Pro software ($29.95). It automatically syncs GPS data collected from devices like Sony’s GPS-CS1 tracker ($150), right.

The software automatically tags photos with embedded location information as the images are later downloaded to your computer.

Sony’s stand-alone GPS device (right) can be turned on and put in a pocket or purse, independently. It records accurate time, tagged to your location.

Since most digital cameras also automatically embed time (and other information) inside the image using Exchangeable image file format (Exif), the Breeze System’s software simply synchs up the files, matching time tags, and embedding the downloaded images with GPS coordinate data using the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) standard.

Handy for Live Maps and Google Map Mashups. Panoramio allows you to locate photos exactly over the place they were taken. You can store up to 2 Gb at your personal area in their original size and quality and locate your photos in the place they were taken. DailyWireless has more on Geocoding Photos and Data with software like PhotoGPSEditor.

Tech Crunch says the basic format for embedding images into a web page using the <img> tag has been around almost as long at HTML itself, since the first graphical web browser. It works, and it is used constantly. But can it be better?

Advertising network AdBrite, which is always looking for new ways to think about things, says it can. This morning, AdBrite launches BritePic to help people add a lot of new functionality around embedded images. Just by changing the embed code, web publishers can add a caption, watermark, zoom, share, resize and other features. And an advertisement, if they choose to.

Personal Telco Finds Portland WiFi Coverage Lacking



Red Pollard: Everybody thinks we found this broken down horse and fixed him, but we didn’t. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way we kinda fixed each other, too.
Seabiscuit

At last night’s monthly meeting of Portland’s Personal Telco Project, Russell Senior and Caleb Phillips described their independent performance evaluation of MetroFi Portland. MetroFi is the city’s municipal wireless contractor.

Portland’s phase one installation covers only about 5% of the 134 square mile installation. By May 2007, MetroFi expects more than 55,000 Portland residents and 10,000 businesses will be able to connect to it’s WiFi network and plans to finish building out the network sometime next year.

Portland Oregon’s municipal wireless network is being overseen by the city’s Logan Kleier, Project Manager, for Unwire Portland (right).

Currently about 72 SkyPilot, access points have been activated, covering roughly 2.5 square miles of the Phase I coverage area. The Portland deployment uses about 25 SkyPilot access points per square mile. Each of the pole-mounted access points are designed cover a 500 foot radius (with a 1000 ft diameter). A 5X5 matrix of canisters covers roughly one square mile.

But mileage varies greatly — it IS unlicensed WiFi and subject to interference, foliage and multi-path.

In the first-phase, “proof of concept” area (downtown and central city), they found that MetroFi’s network worked about half the time. According to the contract, MetroFi needs to show at least 90 percent coverage (outdoors) before it can go on to phase 2.

Senior and Phillips lost a bid to do the city’s evaluation, but they expressed no ill feelings towards Uptown Services which won the bid to test the system. Uptown’s report is due April 12.

The Personal Telco volunteers opted to do testing anyway — for free — out of curiosity. Russell Senior had already assembled a monitoring system built out of a Netgear access point and GPS hardware. They had the computer randomly select several dozen spots within the phase one area for testing.

Of 39 random spots placed within 500 feet of access nodes, they were able to connect 20 times, and failed 19 times. When they tested between the 500- and 1,000-foot zone, they were only able to connect 12 times, failing 27 times. Overall, that’s a failure rate of about 60 percent. Not so hot.

Still, the results are preliminary. Senior and Phillips will release a full analysis later at their website – Unwirepdx-watch.org.

Meanwhile Uptown’s Neil Shaw has produced a whitepaper (pdf) that “should be enough to convince any City Manager or CIO that they should definitely include third party testing as part of their future RFP and/or contract for citywide Wi-Fi services”. Uptown Services says they gather performance data every 100 feet across the advertised service area. Parameters include coverage, data throughput, delay, packet loss, and loss of entire files.

“Personal Telco’s own unofficial testing effort is clearly not independent or impartial,” said Metrofi spokeswoman Denise Graab in a written statement emailed to kgw.com. MetroFi advises consumers use an outdoor Engenius EOC-3220 ($170) with an integrated 9dBi directional patch antenna and 400mW radio when 500-1000 feet from an access point.

“If the study suggests accessibility figures are not above 90 percent, we would tell them to fix that,” said Logan Kleier, Project Manager for the city’s wireless network.

Also at last night’s meeting, Michael Burmeister-Brown, of the nonprofit NetEquality, explained how they use the $50 Meraki box to bring wireless Web access to low-income housing.

Michael Burmeister-Brown, who is a co-founder of Central Point Software and a key developer of Yahoo Messenger software, has worked closely with MIT’s RoofNet group and their commercial spin-off, Meraki.

Net Equality installs wifi repeaters inside of the apartments or in the halls. Signals need only to penetrate interior apartment walls, not external concrete walls or weatherproof glass, improving propagation.

NetEquality likes to bring in broadband to a low-income apartment complex via wired DSL. Then they use a $50 Meraki box to repeat the signal. One $40/month DSL line can be shared by a dozen or more aparments by relaying the broadband signal through 3-4 Meraki access points that mesh together using the RoofNet protocol.

NetEquality played a key role in developing Meraki’s backend management software, called Dashboard (above), which maps access points on Google Maps.

Net Equality’s management backend, developed in parallel with Meraki, is open-sourced and designed to be simple and maintaince-free. The goal, explained Michael Burmeister-Brown, was to provide a simple, reliable solution for low-cost internet access. NetEquality targets low-income communities. It’s designed to be a stable, inexpensive, easy-to-use solution for property managers and end users.

With hundreds of apartments in the Portland metro area now being served by NetEquality’s Meraki solution, they appear to be successfully accomplishing their goal.

What if MetroFi doesn’t cut the mustard?

Why couldn’t Portland make a Crazy Salad? Imagine solar-powered Meraki minis inside giant yellow pencils. Call it public art.

Mount them on streetlights. On coffeeshops. Everywhere. The stand-alone, self-contained “WriteSpot” repeaters might cost under $200 and provide a simple, reliable solution for areas with poor signal reception. Local content on flash memory.

The message is iconic and positive — your ideas have value.

Communicate.

More coverage of last night’s PTP meeting is available at Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, the Oregonian and Unwirepdx-watch.org.

Related DailyWireless articles include; Personal Telco’s Independent Report on MetroFi Coverage, Portland MetroFi Update, Portland’s MetroFi: So Near Yet So Far, Meraki Rocks, Bridging the Digital Divide, Ruckus Tiers MuniFi with $200 WiFi Box, PepWave Client Adds LCD, Ruckus Repeater for MetroFi, Portland MetroFi: Phase 2, Portland’s MetroFi: Initial Reactions, PersonalTelco Field Day, Solar RoofNet Wiki, Access Points as Pencils, Park City: Solar WiFi, Solar Powered Solstice, Open Source Routers, Geocoding Content & Telemetry, Corpus Christi & Portland: Cutting The Cord, Portland Cuts the Cord Tuesday, Portland MetroFi + Microsoft Ads and Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud.

AT&T, Verizon & Qwest Share $50B Contract



Qwest, AT&T and Verizon on Thursday were awarded the government’s largest telecommunications contract ever, a 10-year deal worth up to $48 billion.

In the deal of the decade, the federal government plans to spend at least $20 billion for telecommunications services over the life of the Networx Universal contract, which is capped at $48 billion.

The contract winners, who beat out Sprint Nextel, don’t simply split a pool of money. They now have to compete with each other for the telecom needs of federal agencies, the General Services Administration announced.

The contract covers voice, video and data services and technologies domestically and internationally for at least six federal agencies, but could apply to as many as 135 agencies operating in more than 190 countries.

The announcement was a huge blow to Sprint, analysts said, because it has been providing telecom services to the federal government for nearly 20 years.

“The federal government was Sprint’s first major customer since the company started,” said technology consultant Warren Suss.

Today’s announcement was most significant for Qwest, the smallest among them. Qwest may now leverage its government business to gain more corporate clients.

For Sprint-Nextel there may be a consolation prize after loosing the Networx Universal contract. GSA is planning in May to award a second telecommunications contract called Networx Enterprise — worth up to $20 billion — that contains fewer mandatory requirements and services in select areas across the nation.

DailyWireless has more on The Networx Contract.

Justin.tv: Mobile, Live, Everywhere, Now



Craig Schwartz: There’s a tiny door in that empty office. It’s a portal, Maxine. It takes you inside John Malkovich. You see the world through John Malkovich’s eyes, then, after about fifteen minutes, you’re spit out into a ditch on the side of The New Jersey Turnpike.
Maxine: Sounds delightful. Who the fuck is John Malkovich?
Being John Malkovich

Justin Kan is streaming a live broadcast from his helmet camera. Live. Right now. He’s been webcasting live since March 19th. Nonstop, 24/7.

Check him out at Justin.tv. His phone number is posted for fans to call. Here’s his Blog, a daily schedule and a chat room (using Lingr, a live chatting service).

Kyle Vogt, of Justin.tv, explains they developed a backpack-sized transmitter that streams video over a bank of EVDO modems (for higher upstream bandwidth). As a technology demo and social experiment, their CEO’s entire life is being broadcasted to the internet, 24/7.

And it looks good!

The Washington Post, NewTeeVee (video clip), CBS 13, SF Gate and TechCrunch have more.

Personal Telco’s Independent Report on MetroFi Coverage



Two Personal Telco volunteers are conducting their own test of Portland’s free Wi-Fi project, reports the Oregonian.

Russell Senior and Caleb Phillips bid, unsuccessfully, to conduct the official evaluation of the city’s network but performed their own tests anyway. They will post their results on their website, Unwirepdx-watch.org tonight.

They plan to release their results at 6:30 tonight during PTP’s monthly meeting at Urban Grind Coffee, 2214 NE Oregon Street.

At OSCON last year, Personal Telco showed off some open source router experiments.

Russel Senior built a self-contained, battery-powered router using a Netgear WGT-634u (above) which can be configured as a self-contained, WiFi monitor using software similar to Net Stumbler. The WGT634u has a 200MHz CPU, 32MB RAM, 8M flash, and an Atheros AR5213-based 802.11b/g radio and can run Open WRT.

The self-contained device can record several hours of readings and can be battery powered, making it easy to mount on a bike or placed on the dashboard of a car. The router’s USB connection connects to an external GPS receiver and flash memory dongle.

Portland contracted with Uptown Services to perform the official test of the city’s network. Their findings are expected in mid-April.

Uptown Services has completed comprehensive testing of three commercially available Wi-Fi systems in Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Lompoc.

Using a notebook PC with GPS and custom software, Neil Shaw of Uptown Services says they gather performance data every 100 feet across the advertised service area. Parameters include coverage, data throughput, delay, packet loss, and loss of entire files.

Uptown’s Shaw has produced a whitepaper (pdf) that “should be enough to convince any City Manager or CIO that they should definitely include third party testing as part of their future RFP and/or contract for citywide Wi-Fi services”.

Uptown doesn’t match each City to their respective test results, “but you don’t need to know who is who to see that there is a major need for independent testing in this industry”, says Shaw.

If Portland signs off on MetroFi’s work after the testing results come in, MetroFi will quickly expand its network by activating about 250 more Wi-Fi antennas.



Left to Right: Adrian van Haaften, June Delany (MetroFi) and Logan Kleier (City of Portland)

DailyWireless editor Sam Churchill met with Logan Kleier, Project Manager, for Unwire Portland and two representatives from MetroFi, (Adrian Van Hafften, VP of Marketing and June Delaney, Director of Consumer Marketing) last week.

The goal of the meeting was to bring DailyWireless readers up to speed on the Portland, Oregon, MetroFi roll out, what consumers should expect and other issues of the Phase 1 network — now covering about 2.5 miles of downtown Portland, Oregon.

Logan Kleier said MetroFi is installing about 25 SkyPilot access points per mile. Since each AP covers about 1,000 ft, a matrix about 5X5 APs cover roughly one square mile. “Now you go to 10×10 APs (100 APs per sq. mile), said Kleier, that’s a 4 fold increase in cost – breaking every business model for municipal WiFi.” Kleier said while some residents could receive MetroFi indoors with common WiFi clients, people shouldn’t expect indoor coverage — it would simply cost too much to deliver.

Here’s a video explaining PersonalTelco’s Free Community Wireless project in the Mississippi Neighborhood.

Also at tonight’s Personal Telco meeting, Michael Burmeister-Brown, of the nonprofit NetEquality, will explain how they use the $50 Meraki box to bring wireless Web access to low-income housing.

In other news, SkyPilot Networks, the vendor of choice for MetroFi, says it has enhanced VoIP support with SyncMesh. Dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi VoIP phones, using the new version of SyncMesh enables 802.11e/Wi-Fi Multimedia for better performance over multi-hop, unlicensed mesh networks.

The Illinois tri-cities of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles hoped to get same free (ad-sponsored) Internet service now offered by MetroFi in Aurora, Illinois but were turned down. MetroFi now requires a city commitment to buy a block of services before offering their consumer-oriented, ad-supported WiFi service.

Related DailyWireless articles include; Portland MetroFi Update, Portland’s MetroFi: So Near Yet So Far, Meraki Rocks, Bridging the Digital Divide, Ruckus Tiers MuniFi with $200 WiFi Box, PepWave Client Adds LCD, Ruckus Repeater for MetroFi, Portland MetroFi: Phase 2, Portland’s MetroFi: Initial Reactions, PersonalTelco Field Day, Solar RoofNet Wiki, Open Source Routers, Geocoding Content & Telemetry, Corpus Christi & Portland: Cutting The Cord, Portland Cuts the Cord Tuesday, Portland MetroFi + Microsoft Ads and Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud.