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Philadelphia's Wi-Fi Back Online, Privately

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the asymptotically-approaching-the-correct-model dept.

Wireless Networking 50

muellerr1 writes "A group of local Philadelphia investors is picking up where Earthlink left off last week. Earthlink abandoned their effort to provide municipal Wi-Fi access because they couldn't lure enough paying customers. The project won't use any additional taxpayer dollars, and the new investors are thinking of using advertisements and fees for business use to support free access for ordinary citizens." The private group won't estimate when the network might be completed (it's at 80%), saying it will take months to assess where the project is and what it needs.

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Drexel ruless!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831129)

Go Dragons!

Re:Drexel ruless!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832539)

Drexel is OK, but I went to Drexel CS and believe me, it sucked big time.

Re:Drexel ruless!! (1)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23839051)

I just graduated from there last week. The classes aren't amazing, but they have a good rep and the co-op program landed me a sweet job after graduation.

hello there (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831151)

please leave the olives over there on the table. thanks.

Other solutions on the horizon (3, Insightful)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831239)

I heartily applaud their attempt to get free coverage. But even if they fail there's still a lot of great stuff on the horizon. The coverage of commercial services like FON [] is increasing fast. At the same time, the new G3 phones are coming online (new iPhone, anyone?) and tethering is starting to look like a more and more attractive way to get high-speed Internet on the go. I'd love it if Internet were free everywhere, but I'll take iPhone tethering (yes, it's probably against the TOS) as a fallback.

Kudos to them.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831439)

It's all great until some moron who's "attuned to the Earth" sues them claiming that the wireless transmissions are geiving them bad vibrations and the dowsers claim this is totally fucking with their stick pointing duties.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831535)

This probably should have been modded "funny" instead of "troll". There really are people suing to get wi-fi shut down because they claim to be allergic to it.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (3, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831785)

I'm allergic to stupid loudmouthed inbreds. Can I sue to have them all killed and incinerated ?

I can demonstrate the effects idiots have on me, and the violent "allergic" reactions I suffer in their presence. Most of them involve uncontrollable flailing while handling sharp cutlery.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832373)

I'm allergic to stupid loudmouthed inbreds. Can I sue to have them all killed and incinerated ?

Not successfully. Just hope someone develops bacteria that can turn them into fuel for your car.
Meanwhile, don't vote for them.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832525)

It's all great until some moron who's "attuned to the Earth" sues them claiming that the wireless transmissions are geiving them bad vibrations and the dowsers claim this is totally fucking with their stick pointing duties.
Have you been to Philly?

I live here... The last thing we worry about is "bad vibrations", more likely we're afraid of random violence.

Think I'm joking?

These were only in the last few days.

We're not Santa Fe...

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831563)

Actually I just pay for access and would pay a SMALL fee for city-wide access. Say on my utility bill at 5 dollars per month. That was, cheap bastards can get their torrents :P

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831639)

Tethering is not against the TOS, they'll just charge you ANOTHER 60 dollars a month if you do it.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (2, Informative)

BadHaggis (1179673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831899)

That's why I use T-Mobile. They encourage tethering and were more than helpful in providing the information necessary to set it up. The caveat to this is I do pay a $20 monthly unlimited data fee, and they have never complained about the amount of data that I put through it.

Re:Other solutions on the horizon (2, Informative)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832407)

I have AT & T / Cingular as well.

Well, originally I was a Cingular customer, but now have signed a new contract.

My wife and I both have data plans, she has a Blackjack II, I have a HTC Wizard.

I paid 60 a month extra for unlmtd data on Cingular, 50 a month now on AT & T. With this, I get 200 msg a month and otherwise, unlimited data, tethered or not.

My only gripe is now that I have experienced her phone, being 3G, tethered on the laptops, I realize just how slow the EDGE and related technology is.

But, I've never had a problem with Cingular or AT&T, and I've been tethering since the day I got the phone. Matter of fact, I realized the USB port on the last phone was dead because it wouldn't tether, not because it wouldn't charge.. charging worked fine.

Blackjack II, total crap. Windows mobile NEEDS a touch screen.


Yes, da hell w/ free coverage, lets all get iphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833985)

Yes, we all know that free internet access to the poor along with a sub 200$ Linux couldnt be of help to the single mother of two who works to shifts to clothe and feed her kids and has no money left for mac Airs and Touchy mp3 players.

No, no,... some overhyped locked in cellphone sounds so much more useful.


Well don't post it!! (5, Funny)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831457)

It's private! Don't you guys have any respect?!

Free right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23831463)

According to the Philly local news radio ( owned by CBS) the existing Wifi connections are now available free. Anyone with with a wireless B card can get Internet connectivity in the areas were Earthlink already covered.

If Earthlink didn't get to your area... well, I think the article said "months" before they even know what they want to decide.

Local article:

It failed because it sucked. (5, Interesting)

snarfies (115214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831475)

I was unemployed 8 months ago, and while I had plenty in the bank I was looking to find ways to make it last, so I experimented with Earthlink's wifi service. I got their adapter in the mail and put it in my window.

The signal swung wildly between full strength and no signal at all, regardless of where I placed the adapter. Even when it was at full strength, though, the connection would constantly stall, requiring me to log back in (did I mention you have to log in to the service, just like oldschool dialup?). When it DID work, it was quite slow. In short, it wasn't worth dropping Comcast for, and I sent it back after the first week.

Re:It failed because it sucked. (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831671)

The signal swung wildly between full strength and no signal at all, regardless of where I placed the adapter.
Where they using rotating directional antennas?

Re:It failed because it sucked. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832009)

Maybe there was a windmill between his adapter and the other end of the link? Seriously, RF propagation is like black magic. You can learn the rules and get good enough to surprise people, but sometimes it's still guesswork and luck. At 2.4 GHz you can have some very complex multipath conditions and the location of your neighbors car could be the difference between a strong signal and none. Of course, adding a nice directional antenna to the adapter and pointing it at the other end should have solved most problems.

JavaScript links - why? (0, Offtopic)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831525)

What possesses people (Reuters) to use JavaScript for the next-page links in articles? It breaks opening the link in a separate tab, it breaks the link for anyone that has JavaScript disabled, and it keeps search engines from following the link. I realize this is off-topic, but is there some benefit to this that I'm not seeing?

Re:JavaScript links - why? (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832211)

Gmail has the same problem: can't open an email in a new tab. Or, you can, but it also navigates the current tab to the same email.

Note to developers: javascript and ajax are cute, but don't break the browser's native UI.

I hope its not as bad as Portland, OR (5, Interesting)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831567)

The Portland network looked pretty decent in the beginning. The ads weren't too obnoxious. Then one day people found out that the only way they could use the free service was to download some Windows-only program that spewed out ads by the dozen. Linux and BSD users were locked out. Believe me, they should be happy to be locked out.

Re:I hope its not as bad as Portland, OR (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831749)

Then one day people found out that the only way they could use the free service was to download some Windows-only program that spewed out ads by the dozen. Linux and BSD users were locked out.

That's an interesting perspective. When there is Windows only software, I'd think most people would be more concerned with Mac OS X being locked out than Linux (given their relative market share) let alone BSD. Unless, I suppose, one classifies OS X as a BSD.

OS specific ads seem pretty pointless. There seem to be well proven technologies to inject ads into Web content, regardless of OS.

Re:I hope its not as bad as Portland, OR (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23838305)

Well, OS X users have their tethered iPhones [] ...

Last Para of Sum Does Not Compute (3, Insightful)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831645)

The private group won't estimate when the network might be completed (it's at 80%), saying it will take months to assess where the project is and what it need
Half of that sentence isn't true. Either you need months to asses, or you know it's at 80%. Not both.

Re:Last Para of Sum Does Not Compute (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831717)

A different article [] about it says it is 65-80% done, so they really don't know how far long it is.

Re:Last Para of Sum Does Not Compute (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831727)

I think what they mean is....
"yeah it's '80%' done. But of the '80%', we're not sure if it's reliable. Additionally, we're not sure what is needed to finish the remaining 20%."

It could be a car analogy where 80% of the car is done, but they don't know if they still want the engine the car was designed for in. Trying to figure out if you could fit another engine can take a long time.

Side note, since I started reading /., people have told me my analogies have made less and less sense. Anyone else seeing this?

Re:Last Para of Sum Does Not Compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832151)

What are you talking about? I really cannot grasp what it is you are saying..... cars? Engine. Fit? HUh?

Finally.... (0, Offtopic)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831647)

City of Brotherly Love indeed. And hey, if you can make it pay...

Public Services should be provided by Government (5, Insightful)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831699)

...not businesses. The whole idea of municipal Wi-fi is that everyone can have it, profit or no profit...tragedy of the commons and all....and since Earthlink abandoned their effort to provide municipal Wi-Fi access because they couldn't lure enough paying just goes to show that non-public corporations do a lousy job providing public services. The internet is akin to a utility, and should be regulated in the publics best interest, not some investors bottom line.

No (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831959)

It shows that not enough people were interested in buying into another internet service being happy enough with their current service.

My problem with municipal wi-fi is, where is the need? Most businesses and even people living there have service. So this benefits who? The poor and down trodden? Most could care less about internet and those who do and are going to the library and getting good access there in a clean and friendly environment. Why would they want to divert monies they could use for shelter and food towards a computer and other hardware needed for the net? The net isn't a priority, providing for family first is. I don't understand why so many people here see the net as opening doors. The problem is that for many of the people who you claim it will open a door for don't even know they need one and many probably don't.

The internet is not a utility. The last thing I want is it to be under the control of our government, local, state, or federal. We are harp on verizon and such caving in or going to extremes we find unwarranted at every little hissy fit one state or another throws. Can you imagine how damn regulated and filtered your net will be if totally in the hands of the government and the cronies appointed by the powers that be? Think freedom of speech will protect you? It might for what you say but it will not gain you access to what you want. It will also be reduced by "for the children" laws. Combine that with actually trying to get someone to fix your service when its down and out. Its not a life threatening application its not going to be addresses fast. Hell the nearest city to me can't even keep the road patched. They have a leaky water system they haven't been able to fix in ten years. Like hell if I want to trust my internet connection to them.

The internet should not be treated as a utility, its not a right, it is not essential to life.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832167)

Mod parent +Insightful. I agree that govt regulation will severely affect performance, privacy, and service!!!

Re:No (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23838403)

... Most couldn't care less about the internet and those who do and are going to the library and getting good access there in a clean and friendly environment...
There, fixed it for you.

You have silly & misguided views of many thing (1)

arete (170676) | more than 6 years ago | (#23851543)

Honestly I wouldn't have bothered, except some anarchist-leaning mods gave you +5 insightful for being totally wrong. But as is unfortunately often true, in this case the anarchistic position has the effect of being a shill for Big Telecom; what you're suggested is exactly what their monopolies want. And don't mistake me here for a big government advocate in the broad scheme of things - I believe in the power of the free market, and I want things to be cheaper and more efficient for everyone which does not USUALLY mean done by the government, but does in some cases. And it also means the government has to be involved to keep a check on monopolies which are NOT part of the free market and keep the marketplace fair and predictable, ... without those checks you don't have a free market.

First of all, WiFi per se might not be a utility, but Internet is a utility now for many people. And it SHOULD be treated exactly like a utility. It may not be as life-critical as some, but everyone else's - and the law's - definition of utility includes cable TV. For that matter different places have different utilities - some people don't get any. Being a utility has nothing to do with it being a right. By the way, you don't have a mandated right to ANY utilities, except that usually your heat can't be cut off during the winter. More farther down.

Importantly, if you have broadband your government IS involved. Let's face it, practically speaking, broadband in the US means DSL or cable for now. You can't just go laying cables wherever you like - the government grants a license (to an easement) - with varying levels of exclusivity - for utility companies (such as phone and cable) to arbitrarily tear up property within certain limits to establish the service. Consumers don't get to consent to having the lines strung across their property, except through their government. Without infringing on all those real-property rights - and without the government penalizing people who cut down cables that run across THEIR land - you can't HAVE utilities, including cable and phone.

In the case of phone, tax dollars paid for the installation of all the lines until pretty recently. The phone company DOES have a monopoly on these lines. It was believed, accurately imo, that it would make the country better and stronger and be better for all the citizens, overall. I think this was accurate. Tax dollars are still taken specifically for keeping phone service in rural areas. Doing this for Internet communication makes total sense to me; it makes us more competitive in the global marketplace.

Now I'm going to talk about why we have utilities. Let's talk about another common municipal service - garbage collection. There are private ways to deal with this, but basically every municipality has garbage collection because a) it's much more efficient and cheaper if we all get in on doing it together and perhaps b) because some people think they benefit from making sure their neighbors have easy access to it. So we all get together and start a garbage service. In many medium sized places, this doesn't mean the town actually administers this service, but it means they contract with someone (usually Waste Management, now) to do it - at a bulk rate for the whole town. And on at least some size level it's optional - it's common for large apartment buildings to contract privately instead of as part of the municipal contract, presumably because they think they're big enough that they can find a better deal. But it not be optional to pay at least part of the taxes that support the service. That's how municipal services work.

If you're really an anarchist you should go live on a boat or oil rig by yourself in international waters without a flag. While that's inflammatory, I'm not JUST being inflammatory - if you live in a city the POINT is to be by other people and have access to municipal services. If you don't want to participate - which means getting those services and paying those taxes, and being at the whim of your fellow voters unless you convince them otherwise - you should remove yourself from the city. And in the US, have fun trying to get broadband if you're not in the city; it's not there.

But for every non-anarchist this municipal system, even WHEN it's pretty inefficient still overall makes life easier and saves money for almost everyone. Executed well it makes it MUCH more efficient. Living someone where you have a sat phone, truck your own garbage to the dump, and have to have propane carted in for heat and power is a giant pain. And these deals only happen legally if the majority of people want it to or the majority of people vote for people who want it to. It's easier to be disconnected from what happens at a state or especially federal level, but at a municipal level what happens very commonly DOES represent the will of the people. Unless there's outright fraud, in which case the state authorities generally can and do actually prosecute them, because they're different people from the local governments. This is really a critical point here - if you're over 18, "the government" is effectively YOU. You do vote, right? I can see how many you think things have gotten institutionally out of hand on a grander scale, but in most municipalities if a strong majority really wants something, it happens - even when it's really stupid, and sometimes when it violates state or federal laws and gets the city sued.

So let's say, hypothetically, that you think the DSL and cable monopoly providers are, as a whole, totally ripping your whole town off in terms of Internet access, and doing it despite the fact that they only exist because your municipality granted them easements. Perhaps, as is true in IL, the phone company is legally obligated to let their party phone service and third party DSL exist, but on top of some other shady things they make it impossible to get BOTH - if you want DSL and phone on a line, at least ONE of them has to be from AT&T.

So let's say a majority of your townsfolk agree with you that this is a terrible situation. You can try to beg someone to offer your citizens a better deal, but really there's only a few firms and they have what they think is good pricing, so they don't. So the only other things you have to negotiate with is to say that you'll sign up the WHOLE city for a big enough discount or you'll find a way to make deployment cheaper than managing billing and cabling to all the houses. Open municipal wifi does both those things. Everyone's internet gets very cheap (probably not free, because there's taxes, but cheap) but the company still gets enough money to make it worthwhile. Or if you can't find a company to do this for you, and you are all so sure it'll be cheaper to do it yourself, then you do it yourself.

Now, maybe you're saying that math is wrong and it costs more money to do muni wifi today than wired broadband, but I'm not convinced. And anyway it doesn't matter - my point is that IF it's going to save money overall, it makes a lot of sense. It makes the MOST sense in a dense but remote place that isn't wired for DSL/cable very well yet.

If you're Philly, you choose Earthlink and they back out and you try to have this other company do it. Earthlink didn't go out of business, so IF Philly got stuck with a huge financial albatross, you should fire the lawyers who wrote the contract with Earthlink... but I don't know if they did or didn't end up out a bunch of money.

If you're some parishes in Louisiana, you do this and actually get sued by the telcos for competing with their services despite the obvious dissatisfaction of all their users / your citizens, who voted for it by referendum.

I could talk about the overall benefits of free wifi for quite a while, but I'll just touch on a couple. Maybe these don't outweigh the costs, but that depends a lot on the costs. Your city gets slightly more attractive for anyone with a computer, which means more tourism dollars. (Where tourism is meant to include, say, someone buying a sandwich while spending the day in the city they live an hour outside of.) People who don't have cellular data plans can get internet anywhere, so they don't have to travel back to their home/office. This reduces excess travel, making them more efficient/productive and saving gas. (People who would do this a LOT should GET a cellular plan, but occasional users never would.) People can look up real time municipal information, reducing the number of phone operators necessary. And, of course, you don't have to pay for home service.

I totally agree with you that people poor enough not to have a computer (and who haven't been provided one by some charity that reconditions used computers) will have little use for wifi of any kind. But all the benefits of free wifi do disproportionately help you the poorer you get, until you can't acquire a computer at all. Anyone with infinite money should have cellular internet, but someone poorer might just skip using it. Someone in the middle might seek out somewhere to buy coffee or a sandwich that would let them pay for wifi... Someone who has access at work might think it made less sense to have it at home. Someone whose child is asleep in the the other room might not go to the library.

For the benefits of having Internet at all, it's simply cheaper and more efficient to get things done on the internet. You pay less for what you buy, you can get good information about what you're spending your money on, and you can get a lot of information you'd have to otherwise pay for. That's enough for a compelling case. It's ALSO possible to learn things and become more marketable, which some people certainly do.

As for filtering, it might be bad, but I find little reason to believe it would be WORSE. If you mean NSA-type secret conspiracy monitoring and suppression, I'm not saying that would or wouldn't happen, there's NO WAY that however much they would do that municipally is not happening already with teh big telcos. Maybe you can get freer Internet via packet radio or something.

Maybe they would filter more porn - in a public way that you'd get to vote on, or at least to vote against in the next cycle afterward. However, those laws often apply to the telcos, too... But what the muni provider wouldn't do is silently shape bittorrent or sell out to the MPAA and deny it, because what your muni gov can't do is keep a secret about such things very well.

Philly's situation, of course, is really just a mass contract with a provider, so whatever filtering things you're worried about aren't different than any other internet provider.

Re:Public Services should be provided by Governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833843)

You must be from China.

Seriously, who in their right mind would want the government controlling their access to the internet? Nevermind the fact that the only way government can provide thongs is to STEAL from others.

This is exactly why it sucks that Obama is going to be our next president. His plan for change is filled with this kind of thinking... on the Federal level, which is far worse.

Re:Public Services should be provided by Governmen (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23834355)

The government provides thongs?

Re:Public Services should be provided by Governmen (1)

MarcoG42 (1087205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23838647)

Welcome to the United States of PAAAARTAAAAY!

Re:Public Services should be provided by Governmen (1)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 6 years ago | (#23842943)

By steeling them, apparently.

Re:Public Services should be provided by Governmen (1)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23838497)

I think the problem is that they were slow to get this set up. The big corporations already had footholds in the business (as opposed to old school local dialup ISPs). There are also too many ways to provide internet access... and frankly, the government would screw it up anyway. The only reason we see speed increases now is that cable modems fight DSL and FIOS and maybe eventually WiMax and whatever else.
At least here in Philadelphia, there was major opposition to the project coming from corporations like Comcast (who has their HQ a few blocks from City Hall). They were crying about how it might cost them some customers that wouldn't want to pay $50/month for hardwired internet access. It's possible Verizon was crying too.
Add to that *some* source of misinformation that this would cost the taxpayers tons of money, and that's why the whole project took forever to get going.
As of today, Philadelphia taxpayers didn't put up $1 for the project. We always had free access in many parts of the city, like the Convention Center, Reading Terminal Market (same building complex), City Hall, Love Park and along the Parkway down to the Art museum. I think other parks were included.
Hopefully they can pull this together. I would probably keep my higher speed wired access at home, but it will be nice to have the option.

TFA doesn't say anything about ads (2, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23831865)

muellerr1 writes:

the new investors are thinking of using advertisements
TFA doesn't say anything about ads. If it's true, it's cause for concern, since there's no way to implement that without altering packets.

Earthlink WiFi is annoying if you don't have it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832311)

As a Philadelphia resident, this service is one of the most annoying things ever if you are an iPhone owner. Everywhere I would go in the city, it would either attempt to connect to this network I didn't want it to, or I would haphazardly tell it to and I would reach a login page. I get the feeling that this leaves many people feeling jaded about this service, and probably hurts their long term sales. It's like when you go into a Barnes and Noble with a laptop and you're like "sweet, a WAP.. let's connect," only to find out moments later that you have to pay $X for Y hours of connectivity. Imagine that EVERYWHERE. It's quite frustrating. A potential solution is to either hide the ESSID or provide ad supported for free, and ad-free for payment.

Just my 2c...

Re:Earthlink WiFi is annoying if you don't have it (1)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833381)

I posted below, but when i hopped on today it just worked. No more of those pages you mention. We'll see what happens in a few months. People with iPhones, or iPod touch sized screens, don't really have room for ads.

Great idea, until your neighbor fires up P2P (3, Interesting)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832491)

What happens when you're using it, and your neighbor fires up bittorrent.

Wifi is nowhere near the point of replacing broadband. Hell, cable modems have more bandwith to share between customers than wifi.

It's a good backup, though. I'll give it that.


What Earthlink actually offered. (5, Insightful)

KenDiPietro (1294220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832991)

Earthlink had offered to give a non-profit $1 Million in cash plus roughly $2 Million in brand new equipment. Most of the network had been built using first generation Tropos equipment, at the edge, which based on the time the first radios were installed puts them at more than 2/3rds through their usable life. While there is blame enough to go around for everybody involved, the reality is that Earthlink has now decided to focus on dialup, a plan that most of us here would look at as a long term solution - depending on what you define as long term and what solution you would like to see Earthlink come to. Good luck, Philadelphia, because trying to use the equipment you have is going to sink this network faster than it did last time.

The triumph and tragedy of wifi, and what it means (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833359)

I think that there is a broader message to be seen in the fairly numerous stories of wide area wifi deployments meeting with limited, at best, success.

Lesson 1: WiFi actually pretty much sucks for this type of job.

Lesson 2: We try to use it anyway because open spectrum allows amazing stuff to be built. Unfortunately, WiFi isn't all that great, and neither is the 2.4gHZ band. And yet, by virtue of being pretty much the only open spectrum networking technology with wide availability(There is also bluetooth; but that is explicitly slow and short range), it is amazingly useful.

The moral of the story: We need more and better open spectrum. If WiFi can do as well as it has, shoved in with microwaves and cordless phones and baby monitors and cheap RC toys and low end wireless mice and whatnot, imagine what we could do with some real open spectrum.

Now, I realize that our chances of prying spectrum loose from the grip of the plutocrats currently "monetizing" it are incrementally worse than nil; but that doesn't change how nice it would be.

I used it today. It works and it's free! (4, Insightful)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833361)

Good news for iPhone1.0 owners? Wi-Phi should be faster than AT&T's 3G..... and AT&T's EDGE coverage blows in Philly.

Around town we all heard they would be using some form of ad-supported net access. I hopped on it (using an old 802.11b equipped iBook) to see if it really was free and open, and it was. I was not in a place with good coverage, but it was pretty usable. I know where the base stations are, and I was located *just* at the edge of where they stopped putting them up.
I didn't see any ads, but i was using Safari with ad blocker installed. Not sure if that removed them or they just didn't put them in yet? Maybe the ads thing is a rumor. It also let me run iChat without a hitch.

If there are details about the new system, i have not seem them yet. One report on the radio said the new company will be selling wired broadband to businesses and that will subsidize all or some of the network? This article says companies would have to pay for their employees to use the otherwise free Wi-Fi? Not sure what that's about, or how it will work out. People seemed to get very different info from the same press conference. 80% of the city is already covered in (802.11b) base stations. some neighborhoods will give you the ability to see half a dozen networks.

It works at Philadelphia intl. (1)

doublee3 (1276070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834237)

I was at Philadelphia international airport in May and was able to connect to free public wifi after agreeing to some legal document that I didn't read. I had about a 1mbps connection that I used to run instant messaging, check e-mail, surf the web and remote desktop to my torrent box 1000 miles away. They had no problems with my mac address being 00-11-22-33-44-55. Had I lived in the area I may have purchased a directional antenna.

Hopefully they're Slashdot readers ... (1)

Rudisaurus (675580) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835969)

The private group won't estimate when the network might be completed (it's at 80%), saying it will take months to assess where the project is and what it needs.
This could lop months off their timeframe!

Here's some more info... (1)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23838295)

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has an article on it:

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