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<nettime> WiFiCo [weisman, elloi]
nettime's_waterloo_monger on Wed, 1 Jan 2003 23:44:26 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> WiFiCo [weisman, elloi]



Mike Weisman <popeye {AT} speakeasy.org>
     Re: <nettime> wireless commons-  elloi
Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>
     Re: <nettime> wireless commons digest [stalder, elloi]

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Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2003 11:41:41 -0800
Subject: Re: <nettime> wireless commons-  elloi
From: Mike Weisman <popeye {AT} speakeasy.org>

On 12/31/02 9:16 AM, Steve Cisler wrote:

> Morlock Elloi quoted from the Wireless Manifesto and then commented:
>> 
>>> Low-cost wireless networking equipment which can operate in unlicensed
>>> bands of the spectrum has started another revolution.

I disagree with this description of the wireless situation.  My observation
is that the 'revolution' is very diffuse, disorganized, and diverse.  I
don't find it to be revolution at all; but that may be its shield, after
all.  The community groups that are producing a good bit of the emerging
software and provisioning the nodes still have a long way to go.  Missing
from the mix is a robust application that allows a user to travel from node
to node while connected; to drive around or use the network while on a bus
or walking. I do expect to see this soon, however.
 
Applications are still too focused on platforms: the early adopters are
certainly (upon my obs) evenly divided between Windows, Linux, and Apple
based platforms.  Software will have to be more platform independent to
really break out.  

Finally, this spectrum (2.4 Ghz) is unlicensed across the board and will not
be licensed in the future.  It is shared by a broad group of users and uses:
home appliances, cordless phones, microwave ovens, home security systems,
etc.  There is far too much of an installed base and in the pipeline to
re-license this small spectrum commons anymore.
 
>> 
>> The un-license-ness is there because of current (dis)interest and
>> temporary
>> benevolence of powers that be.

For the reason stated above, I don't see this as worth wasting mental
bandwidth.  It won't be re-licensed.  The real question for community
technology activists is whether we work out good applications to use the
spectrum commons given to us.

It will go away overnight when the
>> probability
>> that it will truly infinge on the corporate realm exceeds 0.1%.

In the current situation, the wireless networks operate in congruency with
corporate business interests.  They are sleeping in the same bed. This is
something of a shield for the community wireless activists.  But I'm still
waiting to see someone do more than offer a nifty way for me to check my
email or use a Web-based browser based app.

  Certainly the incumbent
> powers in different countries will stifle disrupting technologies in
> various ways: tightening existing regulations and passing new ones,
> denying connections for the wireless hubs or coming out with their own
> version of the networks like CoMeta (ATT Wireless, IBM, and Intel).
> 
> Steve Cisler

I have to note that the esteemed Mr. Cisler ignores a couple of trends.
First, several corporate Wi-Fi networks made abortive attempts to strike out
at the community networks very early on.  T-Mobile, Mobilestar, Boingo, and
HipHup all raised a stink and quickly backed down.  The current wireless
network apps provide channels and basic security.  By offering clients
software with good quality roaming, secure multi-channel capability, its
possible to serve clients without interference and with a modicum of
security.  The interference canard was quickly dropped when corporate flaks
realized it was bullshit. And who would buy service from a provider whose
product was so flimsy and ill-conceived that it was subject to interference
from the grammar school kids around the corner?

In a discussion this summer at De Waag, I tried to emphasize that commercial
interests must offer their clients a value added product.  Early commercial
entries tried to offer clients a hacker-style product at Cadillac prices.
They fell on their face.  Value-added enhancements include  ease-of-use,
reasonable security, decent quality broadcast strength, and roamability.

Finally, I also stressed that the community networks and their
hacker/activists are the future market for commercial ventures.  I learned
all about wireless networks from helpful hackers.  Now, I am about to
subscribe to a commercial service for when I travel.  Ease-of-use is the
reason; isn't that always the case?  My time is worth money (at least to
me).  Savvy corporate marketers have learned to see this market as doorway
instead of a leak. 

At least one national broadband network groks this. Speakeasy Networks
recently announced new terms of service that ENCOURAGE users to offer
service over community wireless networks.  They even offer tech support for
this use!  Proving that there is another, more viable commercial model being
pursued by some companies.

BTW, the large national corporate networks like CoMeta and Boingo never
materialized.  Frankly, I'm too busy fighting the corporate menaces that do
exist, like broadband deployment abuses, rather than worrying about
corporate wet dreams that will never be more than techno-porn in Wired or
the NYT. 

Mike Weisman
Seattle  

-- 
Please respond to:
Mike Weisman
popeye {AT} speakeasy.org

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Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 11:56:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> wireless commons digest [stalder, elloi]

> So because it could be disabled by a government decree, we shouldn't
> try?  Also this isn't just about the USA, what about all the countries
> with emerging telecommunication infrastructures?

Again, a dose of facts:

US of A is BEST of all regarding 802.11* use.

In a number of european countries 802.11* is being licensed to highest bidders.
I kid you not. Guess who will not get a license. Someone else mentioned that
"In some places (Venezuela, Nigeria, Argentina) there have been interference
problems and perceived threats to licensed carriers so that previously
unlicensed networks are now being regulated in new ways. In Mexico there exists
distance limitations on 802.11b that inhibit modest point-to-point networks."

So, "all the countries with emerging telecommunication infrastructures" is a
poor argument - you are wasting our time by choosing to disregard facts, in
favor of prospect of another high, this time on wireless.

> Maybe ... but the only way that *won't* happen is if enough people stand
> up and fight for it, and people only fight for things that they can
> understand the significance of.

Standing up and becoming fodder is a lousy "fight". While it easier and more
chic to "fight" on the comfortable, air-conditioned and disinfected corporate
playgrounds, you do get trown out by security personnel the moment you stop
shopping. Such "fight" is as revolutionary as wearing clothes with designer
logos. 

> Err ... and how else would you have us do it?  Maybe we should lay
> fibre?  Or maybe go home and just pretend that the whole thing is an
> impossible problem and to get over ourselves?

First, what is the problem that you want to solve ? ISP bill it seems to me.
Well, without guns you simply don't get to displace carriers. Radio frequences
are licensed and wires are owned. There is no way around this. 

Internet is just too comfortable and really prevents any research in
non-mediated communicaations. An ultimate soma pill. Before fibre I'd suggest
(a) pulling strings with tin cans on both sides over roofs (the early analog
P2P solution), (b) uucp over phone lines, (c) home-built infrared.

> Which particular choke points?  You can already buy all the pieces you
> need from non-mainstream distributors.

Take a look at your 802.11* card. It mentions blessings by FCC, ETS and several
others. Manufacture and sale of these are subject to decree. 

> Party pooper ...

This ain't no disco. That is the part you don't understand.


=====
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