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Can 802.11 Become A Viable Last-Mile Alternative?

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the making-it-for-the-last-mile dept.

Technology 206

NikiScevak writes "As telco's around the world move from government hands to private investors the incentive for them to create compeition at the wholesale DSL level drops dramatically. The CSIRO in Australia are investigating the use of Wireless LAN technology 802.11b as a means through which to provide alternative broadband access, achieving range of up to 7km with standard components."

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206 comments

costs too much for third world (0, Redundant)

guest12 (248543) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508880)

costs too much for third world, last mile included.
fp

Mistubishi techno-seizure commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508915)

If I see that Mitsubishi commercial again, I'm going to rip the arms of that bitch and use them to beat the shit out of the synthesizer player.

Re:costs too much for third world (-1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508943)

yeah, he's right. the spearchucking niggers down in Australia are still wiping their asses with broadleaves. it'll be a long fucking time before they can use a laptop for anything but smashing up tubers.

Re:costs too much for third world (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509039)

what's a mile ?
ain't this that medieval measurement unit that the yankees still stick to ?

Already doing it (1)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508882)

I'm being forced to do this for a client who is 400meters outside of cable and DSL range.

Ya, 400meters. The stupid fucks couldn't use repeaters or use current technology to stretch the line. Nice to see a commercial ISP is doing it on a mass scale.

Re:Already doing it (1)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508906)

What kind of DSL line were you trying to have pulled in? Depending on the type, it can go as far as 9km.

Honestly, Repeaters are not a viable option, who really wants to dig up the trunk cable, put a repeater into two spliced lines?

I have seen some ds1/t1 loop end smartjack cards that are designed for long lenth loops, "High-Gain" I think it said. As a rough guess, they were 10 miles from a CO with their T1 line, And The phone lines in that area are notoriously bad.

Re:Already doing it (2)

Bake (2609) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509061)

I believe your parent post said 400 meters _out of range_, which by your suggestion would make about 9,4km...

Re:Already doing it (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509254)

Most make the mistake of wanting ADSL, which your at like a 4km limit on cable lenth with it. With SDSL, it can go 9.8Km if memory serves. Thats something like 4.something miles. Ofcorse, at 9.8Km, you only get something like 144kbps, but that is decent....

Re:Already doing it (2, Funny)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509018)

> The stupid fucks couldn't use repeaters or use current technology to stretch the line

If the arguments for using different aproach came from the same pool as the previous line, I bet the customer chose wlan just to play with you ;)

Re:Already doing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509147)

Yes, the yanks still use these measurements, coinsidently we still own you. Bitch.

Re:Already doing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509269)

nice spelling fucko

First racist post (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508892)

RMS is a filthy greedy jew.

Re:First racist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509197)

hummmm. I man who pushes that he literally lives on little to now money and you accuse him of being greedy???? Why post here? go back to msn. you will find the kkk based there

A message to Jermaine Dupri from Timbaland. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508893)

Yo, this is Timbaland. Tell him I said suck (chicka!) myyyy dick.

Ugh.... (3, Informative)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508896)

There are several isp's selling wireless access for the last mile in North Carolina. Overall, I wouldn't touch it. The networks are generally insecure, sniffable by anybody and their palmtop with the right hardware/software. From what I have seen and heard from people is that it works, but some days it dosen't work as well as others. *shrugs*

Honestly, I wouldn't mind being able to drive around and have allways on access in my car or something like that, but wireless does not cut it.... Collissions, and cordless phones reek havoc with 802.11b. I use a 100mw ap at my office... when I'm on my cordless phone... my laptop says the link quality is 10-20%.... and the ap is 20 feet away...

Re:Ugh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508916)

Well, do you HAVE to have 2.4ghz phone? I have a 900mhz that sounds good enough to me

Re:Ugh.... (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508926)

Yeah... The cordless phones where I work have two line access, caller id, intercom, and some other thing on all the phones.... plus decent range. I can go get the mail and still be on the phone.

Cable and DSL insecure as well... (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508961)

Security isn't what I'd be worrying about for this sort of application -- you have to assume that packets going out over Cable modems and DSL links are going to be sniffed by everyone and their little brother anyway. Use those VPNs if you're looking for security.

(The air gap isn't what it used to be, is it?)

Re:Cable and DSL insecure as well... (2)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508972)

Security isn't what I'd be worrying about for this sort of application -- you have to assume that packets going out over Cable modems and DSL links are going to be sniffed by everyone and their little brother anyway.

How's sniffing DSL any easier than sniffing a T1?

Re:Cable and DSL insecure as well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509226)

If you are in the states, you ahve a beige box mounted on the outside of your house. It can easily be tapped. Howabout the green box in your block? That is also easier to tap than you know.

Re:Cable and DSL insecure as well... (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509248)

Cable is trivial. A pci cable modem and some good drivers will go a long way.

DSL loops, T1 loops. Your talking specialized hardware that costs more then the adverage car. Somebody once told me that a T-Bird (T1...T3 packet sniffer) cost 40 grand. I have no idea how much DSL coperable hardware would cost.... and even if such a thing exists. A T-bird can most likely sniff dsl anyway.

Re:Ugh.... (1, Troll)

sh!va (312105) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509127)

802.11 is about as secure as your wired LAN or any other unencrypted traffic flying out of your computer. Security is an end-to-end argument and it does not behoove the protocol to make any security guarantees (neither ethernet nor 802.11 do this).
I've had enough about people saying how insecure 802.11 is just because someone can sniff your packets. Its the same for any shared medium (think ethernet or the internet backbone). So if you are paranoid about your security, encrypt all the traffic that is flying across the wire.

Re:Ugh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509152)

www.netstumbler.com yes WLANs are so secure. Please set up more. I love you.

Re:Ugh.... (5, Insightful)

Bronster (13157) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509220)

802.11 is about as secure as your wired LAN or any other unencrypted traffic flying out of your computer. Security is an end-to-end argument and it does not behoove the protocol to make any security guarantees (neither ethernet nor 802.11 do this).

Sorry, but that is a crock of total bullshit. I agree with your second sentence (end-to-end, certainly), but what sort of a comparison is wired LAN to 802.11.

The office I work in currently has a slightly less secured LAN than it used to, because we're running 32 sets of CAT5 between level 2 and level 5 of a building we don't own. Anyone who can access them, and work single _one_ of them is actually carrying network traffic (as opposed to phone or just sitting black) could probably stick a 100Mb switch in between and I wouldn't notice (it would have to talk 100 Full Duplex or I would notice the lights).

To do this, they would need to gain access to the building (either during business hours, with a stolen swipe card (or a legit one if the work in the building)) - then access the roofs of either level 2 or 5, or maybe the comms riser - without being asked any questions, or by evading questions.

Once they had access, they would have to either install a scanning device there, and come back every so often to collect data, create a link out (possibly using 802.11 even) - or sneakiest of all, send packets back out through our network and hope I didn't notice the traffic (quite possible really, I don't monitor everything the workstations send that closely, and spoofing a hardware address on packets would probably work quite nicely. Win98 won't be logging unexpected reply packets, and if they spoof something from upstairs, the switch downstairs will send the replies up that wire).

Oh, or they could crack a box I already have and install a scanner on that. Would involve doing the crack of course.

.... what was my point - oh yeah, with 802.11, they sit in a car in the 6 story car park about 30 metres straight out the window and listen to every packet - no chance of getting caught (well, shit all chance anyway), no complex equipment required (say $1000 for a second hand laptop and $500 for the card - the car costs more than that too I guess, if you want to count that.. or their clothes for that matter).

Electronic attacks against a LAN are a lot more complex and expensive, so please stop spreading such FUD. 802.11 breaks the physical barriers in a way that any but the most stupidly laid LANS (wires on the outside of the building anyone) don't.

Re:Ugh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509221)

Security is a funny thing. I have seen that a large number of my neighbors are running MS on our cable network. They obviously are exposing their network by simply running MS. How secure is it compared to 802.11? Well, while I have not heard of wide-spread hacking into wireless computers, i have heard of loads of hacking,viruses, and worms against MS computers. So, which is worse.

Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (2)

ender81b (520454) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508903)

In theory, if you are going to use 802.11b on a large scale wouldn't you eventually reach a point where you would 'saturate' the frequency range alotted to this technology? Also, couldn't this cause problems with other electronic devices - if used on a large scale again?

And, last but not least, the damm networks are (usually) insecure as hell - not by nature but by incompetent setup. I remember an article about a bunch of 'hackers' who drove around downtown london's financial distric with a laptop and a wireless card and where ablet o log onto all sorts of networks b/c of lack of security.

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (2, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508983)

Directional antennas would help with all of these problems. Crossed beams don't interfere, and can't be sniffed from the wrong place.

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (3, Informative)

xmedh02 (100813) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509005)

That's very incorrect. Directional antennas won't
help that much from interception and interference. You will still get the signal
out of their projected beacon (which is still several degrees wide, BTW),
but a bit lower. Radio waves don't work the same way
light does, it's like thinking that nobody will hear
you shouting when you go behind a building..

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509011)

Right. They would not solve the problem against motivated attackers; however, ordinary drive-by sniffers would not be able to hear much with their plain 802.11b cards.

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509031)

normal drive by sniffers aren't using just a pcmcia laptop 802.11b card. they'll be using more likely a nice directional antenna. picks up much fainter signals nicely. =)

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (1, Troll)

jmauro (32523) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509023)

Radio waves and light are the same thing. They should work exactly the same.

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509034)

ever notice how AM works just fine under a bridge and FM sounds crappy? it's because of the wavelength. as such, the wavelength of radio and light are very far and different, hence, yes, they ARE very different. (with a few similatities of course.)

tired of the insecurity troll (2, Flamebait)

Erris (531066) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509130)

And, last but not least, the damm networks are (usually) insecure as hell - not by nature but by incompetent setup. I remember an article about a bunch of 'hackers' who drove around downtown london's financial distric with a laptop and a wireless card and where ablet o log onto all sorts of networks b/c of lack of security.

Dude, you read an article about sniffers? Wow, can I touch you? Yes, this is a flame because I'm sick of hearing such bullshit.

Here's ignorance taken to a new degree. I once heard a story about the whole internet being insecure, a place where all sorts of "hackers" could break into all sorts of machines. They even were able to phreak the phone system. And this new fangled email? Thanks to poor implemetaion, I'm told that the very internet itsel was shaken (routers destabilized) by a silly VB script. Can you believe it? Who would use such an insecure media? I'm sure glad no one ever persued those crazy things!

Want security? You can start by tossing out your M$ crap. You might then consider the virtues of encryption routines, such as provided by OpenBSD and used everwhere people have sense. If you really really don't want anyone to see something, don't write it down. In the long run, it would be adventageous to get governments to extend mail fraud and tampering laws to electronic formats. Remember those things that protect your precious documents from those bold enough to rip open an envelope?

Run along and play in traffic now.

Re:tired of the insecurity troll (1)

The Unknown Anorak (92879) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509172)

As he said , networks are (usually) insecure as hell - not by nature but by incompetent setup. You can use airsnort if you really, really want to crack WEP but the bigger problem is that most companies don't even bother to enable it, through laziness, incompetence or just being unfamiliar with the technology.
I've sat in a pub in London and seen three wireless networks accessed in five minutes. I won't say 'cracked' because that overstates the difficulty of doing it.
If you want proof, here's a story [theregister.co.uk] about WEP's inherent weaknesses.
To prove it's not just endemic in London, here's a story [theregister.co.uk] about War Driving in San Francisco.
And here [bbc.co.uk] is the story that I think the original poster was referring to. The key phrase is 'comprehensive seven-month audit' - this is not hearsay, it's concrete figures.
I know tech paranoia is annoying, but in this case it serves a purpose - it should help close up all these damn holes.

Re:Bad if you do this on a large Scale? (2)

mgv (198488) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509261)

In theory, if you are going to use 802.11b on a large scale wouldn't you eventually reach a point where you would 'saturate' the frequency range alotted to this technology?

I would think for very crowded areas it would be better to use 802.11a - not for the higher bandwidth (Yes, sure a 50 MB/s link to the internet would be nice, of course) but because the cell size is much smaller. Of course penetration is not nearly as good, but alot less stuff runs at the 5 GHz bands than at the 2.4 GHz bands.

Michael

Japan has SpeedNet (2, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508905)

The power company in Japan has set up a wireless ISP that boasts broadband speeds.

A google search would probably turn up some interesting information.

Good to see (1)

Skiboo (306467) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508907)

As someone living in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia, where I can get a 33.6kbps connection on a good day (usually its closer to 28k), it's good to see that the CSIRO are taking an interest in that sort of thing.

But out here 1km, (or even 7 as they claim to strecth it in the article) isn't really very far, so they would need a lot of repeaters to get from place to place, making this a fairly expensive project. (Read: ain't gonna happen).

Re:Good to see (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508914)

Repeaters are not a very good idea with 802.11b. Most likely, High-Gain antennas on both ends, and maybe signal amps would be the best bet. Or maybe long distance links between two access points, then service the local area with an additional ap or two on another channel.

Re:Good to see (1)

Skiboo (306467) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508937)

Thing is, this has to cover distances of over 500km, so you just can't have high-gain antennas (at least not 802.11 anyhow) reach that far (as far as I'm aware). I'm no expert in this field, but I'm pretty sure if you want to cover that distance wirelessly, you'll need repeaters.

(I'm lucky in this regard, the nearest small town is only around 30km away)

Re:Good to see (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508942)

At 500km no, just high-gain antennas will not work.. perhaps with amps maybe, but most likely not. At that distance, you would be running into signaling problems, because both ends will be saying "hey, i'm here" every 100 ms... what if one gets off a little bit.. there goes your link.

At that distance, I would say, do what the telco's do. Big tower, Multiplexed microwave signal.

Re:Good to see (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509001)

Don't forget that at 500km distance, due to Earth's curvature you need to put the end points quite high above the ground; otherwise, they won't see each other beyond the horizon.

802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (0, Troll)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508908)

I believe 802.11 and other similar forms of wireless will never be a viable last mile alternative. Similarly, very few people use cell phones exclusively. The inherent flakiness of wireless tech, real or imaginary, will keep most people from making the jump.

Major reasons why 802.11 and its variants will not solve the last mile problem (soon):

1. No agreement on standards (802.11, 802.11b, 802.11c, bluetooth, etc)
2. 2.4 GHz is already full and prone to interference
3. Security (though walking through a neighborhood and cracking the wireless encryption does sound appealing)
4. Whatever else I can't think of at the moment :)

It also has to do with the psychology of being connected to the "grid" so to speak. People feel so much more secure knowing they are connected to a tangible object- look at broadcast TV vs. cable, cell phones vs. lan line phones, etc.

Re:802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508965)

Similarly, very few people use cell phones exclusively.

Really? I know several people who do just that. (Myself included).

Not a lot, but considering the plans have only very recently gotten cheap enough to make it an option, I'd say it's a significant portion.

Re:802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (3, Insightful)

frankske (570605) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509033)

Similarly, very few people use cell phones exclusively.

Then you've never been to Europe lately? Here, we have a decent GSM-network that almost never fails (yeah, on New Year and on Valentine it always fails). I know lot's of people (both young, old, poor, rich, student or CEO) that have gone to GSM exclusivly. The only reason I still have a PSTN line is for the fax and (more important) the ADSL access on it!

Re:802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (3, Informative)

mgv (198488) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509111)

Then you've never been to Europe lately? Here, we have a decent GSM-network that almost never fails

GSM has an intrinsic part of its design to ramp down the power that the phones transmit at when the signals are strong. It was always designed to work in a crowded network. After all, it has a 35 Km range in its design, yet a cell in the centre of a city would theoretically cover most of even a large town.

This was one of the biggest problems with older analogue networks - they always transmitted at full power and had trouble with crowding out in densely populated areas.

As a bonus, your phone's batteries last alot longer in a city than in the country on a GSM network (but not on analog phone).

Yours,

Michael

Re:802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (2)

jedrek (79264) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509256)

Exactly, GSM is *great* in Europe. Most of the new (mid level or higher) phones comming out onto the market have GPRS - so telcos charge for traffic (about $1.50 US/MB right now) instead of connect time. I have friends who sit online, chit chatting on IRC and IMs 5 days a week, who pay $10-15 for all that connect time. It's not 801.22b speed (more like 56.7) but still, it's a lot better than paying per minute.

I think it's UTMS (next-gen protocol - post GSM/DCS) that will start getting speeds of over 500kbps from a standard phone.

Re:802.11 will never be a last mile alternative (2)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509167)

Now I know that Slashdot is US oriented and that the Commander here is a Yank but the original post here references an Australian system.
It also has to do with the psychology of being connected to the "grid" so to speak. People feel so much more secure knowing they are connected to a tangible object- look at broadcast TV vs. cable, cell phones vs. lan line phones, etc.
I can't comment on Australia directly but I wouldn't be surprised if, like in the UK, broadcast satellite TV had a greater share than cable. Here we have about 2m cable subscribers and 6m satellite subscribers. Cell phones in the UK are huge - the largest of our four networks has 11m subscribers - the other 3 have similar numbers - this compares very well to the number of single line land line installations.

I think that the problem with most of these ideas for least mile (or 7km) technologies come down to marketting more than the customer's reluctance to try them - they simply don't have enough information to make an informed choice.

Snake Oil? (1)

TheOldFart (578597) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508911)

I'm not sure this makes sense. It works in those cases where there is no other way and the number of connected nodes is small and controlled. That's to say the least about FCC rules, which are very specific about this. To make this work for the "last mile", theoretically it would be cheaper to update the current system, especially with new VDSL systems. The problem is that it offers little return to the telcos and they don't want to invest; One way or the other.

Re:Snake Oil? (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508938)

I have noticed some small ILECs are willing to do whatever it takes to make their customers happy aslong as they continue to have a positive cash flow. I know of an ILEC that for like 230 a month, they basiclly pull a t1 to your house, kick your voice over the t1, and then use the rest for data. Ofcorse, they call it some bullshit, but everybody who knows their stuff knows its a t1 line. Ofcorse... there are the ILECs that buy other ILECs out, and then do nothing. I have sprint locally. The town has been polietly demanding broadband for several years (bedroom town between two decently large cities), and they are just now, three years after they said they would in a few months, to offer dsl. Sprint Sucks.

Re:Snake Oil? (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508996)

The point about lack of incentive on the provider's part is what worries me. What if the current 56kbps modem links up to the 1M cable links are sufficient for most people's networking needs? Then there will never be enough demand to justify upgrading the current last-mile infrastructure. Is there a cool new killer-app which would encourage many people to pay for more bandwidth? (More bandwidth here means substantially more, as in gigabits per second over fiber).

Privatization = Decreased Competition? (1)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508913)

As telco's around the world move from government hands to private investors the incentive for them to create compeition at the wholesale DSL level drops dramatically.

This is simply false. Legally enforced government monopolies have zero incentive to compete. The whole point of privatization is to increase competition (assuming it is done correctly, i.e. no market-splitting or corruption, which I believe was a major problem in the former USSR). Private investors and consumers create competition because, unlike taxpayers, they can take their money elsewhere. This type of economic illiteracy is bad enough coming from a normal poster, but even worse coming from the author of the article (who is also the submitter, coincidentally enough).

Cheers,
IT

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (1)

rupe (118491) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508924)

Except when there are huge barriers to market entry (such as when laying of cables, etc, are required).

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508927)

You obviously don't live in Australia. Telstra's privatisation (and the deregulation of the industry) really hasn't improved things in Australia (as far as the last mile is concerned) at all. Taxpayers can take their vote elsewhere if the govt is in charge of things, and the country vote in Australia has been known to tip the scales often.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (4, Insightful)

Baki (72515) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508946)

Don't believe in privatization -> more competition as a dogma, since it is not always true. There are cases where privatization -> profit maximation of one monopolist.

It all depends on the market. As for local loop: there is only one local loop, it is fully uneconomical to make a second one. Alternatives (such as wireless) are inferior, especially on a large scale. Maybe a second local loop is possible (being cable) in some areas, but still, two companies with no chance for more doesn't really give competition. There shall be (silent, because it's forbidden) agreement between two companies to share and divide the market.

Nothing is worse than the combination of monopoly and privatization.

Privatization with true competition is best.
If this is not possible (true for many infrastructure markets such as railways, local loop, utilities such as water etc) then the next best alternative is to create a publicly owned non-profit organization that just manages the infrastructure.

Private companies should compete to offer sericces over that publicly owned infrastructure.

Old example is (publicly owned) roads where many transport companies compete to offer moving goods using trucks, using the public roads.

New example can be publicly owned local loop that is offered to customers at cost price. Then the customer can select a provider that delivers him full internet service via this (cheap) local loop.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (2, Insightful)

elphkotm (574063) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509051)

It's too bad even a publically owned non-profit organization is going to end up like the government. Very few consumers/citizens will get involved. If the organization's main goal is to maintain the infrastructure, then it will just stagnate. With no true competition, there is no motivation. If you've ever done executive or director-level charity work, you'd know that the decision making process is slow as molassas. Often incompetant people are put in places of authority whom usually just get in the way of the productive persons and cause general grief for the organization.

Also, I'd disagree with you on the point that "two isn't enough for competition." Two is quite enough, as evidenced by the technological advances cable companies have made now that they are threatened by DirecTV. Currently I have hundreds of high-quality digital channels streaming into my household over the cable infrastructure. I'm sure we'd still be watching 40 channels of analog television if it wasn't for the competition.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (2)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509079)

Two is quite enough, as evidenced by the technological advances cable companies
Notice the key word "companies" implying more than one. I suspect that there are somewhat more than two cable television providers in the USA. In Australia there are two, but in a few months one will simply be reselling services from the other.
With no true competition, there is no motivation.
I suspect the point the previous poster is making is that if you can only buy your service from one provider then there will be no competition. Then it comes down to a choice as to whether you make a private orginisation fat and steadily less efficient, or whether you make a government organisation that you can influence with your vote fat and steadily less efficient.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (2)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509022)

This is simply false. Legally enforced government monopolies have zero incentive to compete. The whole point of privatization is to increase competition
The point in this case is that it is going from a government owned monopoly to a privately owned monopoly. When the government owns it competition of a kind and innovation can be forced. When the government doesn't, the monopoly just sits there and tries to work out how much it's consumers will pay for a steadily diminising service. At least that looks like the way it is going in Australia.

assuming it is done correctly, i.e. no market-splitting or corruption, which I believe was a major problem in the former USSR
I understand now, perhaps privitisation in Australia is being carried out to the USSR model! We based our power industry restructure on the Californian model (I kid you not!) in 1996, and even then it was clear that there were problems with the way things were done in the Californian power industry.
This type of economic illiteracy is bad enough coming from a normal poster, but even worse coming from the author of the article
The situation is simply different to the US situation. Economics has almost nothing to do with the way privatisation is being done in Australia - it's all about political expediency, and it's expediant to keep the monopolies intact and just sell them to specific interested parties, not even opening things up for bidding (eg. a government run finance group that was sold for less than a years profit to a particular bank - no other bank got a chance to bid). There is little chance of outside competition coming in, in most cases they will just get driven out of business by large groups that can afford to undercut them until they go away.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (2)

bero-rh (98815) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509107)

True, legally enforced government monopolies are bad... But private monopolies are worse.
Take a look at what happened in Germany, for example:
The government-enforced monopoly on telecommunications was dropped, and all the hardware (including cables) was given to the ex-monopolist.
Potential competitors must use the ex-monopolist's lines for virtually everything, and even if they have a couple of exchanges by themselves, they have to route the last line through the ex-monopolist's network, at a price mostly dictated by the ex-monopolist (and it's slightly higher than what they charge their direct customers; the EU has recently filed a suit against them because of this, but because of the "whoever has the cash owns the courts" rule which seems to be prevalent almost everywhere these days (Microsoft trial, anyone?), I don't expect much to come out of it.

The current situation in .de is pretty much what you'd expect: The ex-monopolist pretty much owns the market, and you can switch to a competitor only if you're in a big (and therefore profitable) city.

If you're in a rural area, your only choice is still (and will remain for quite a while) the ex-monopolist, and they're much more evil than in their government times.

Privatization is the right thing to do only if you do it right (such as not giving the ex-monopolist an unfair advantage), which AFAIK hasn't happened anywhere.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509112)

The Ronald Reagan school of economic literacy is
alive well, as exhibited by this poster and his
generation. Monopolies in Rusia? Surely. But why
you have to look so far out to the other side
of earth when almost everything in USA you
have 1 or 2 big players for each and every product: from
telcos, software giants, food, drugs, cars, airplains, tobacos,
and everything else. Monoplies in almost everything you buy.
Let's cut the nonsense, we don't have to look for
examples in places far away.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (2)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509155)

This is simply false. Legally enforced government monopolies have zero incentive to compete.

Hhhmmm... Many Americans (at least on Slashdot) seem to think that anything that is government controlled must be crappy. It may be the case that government provided services in the USA are rubbish, and that your local governments are no good, but that doesn't mean that it is the case everywhere in the world.

Many countries in Europe have extremely efficient state controlled services. Now I know this is going to set some of you rabid freemarketeers into flame mode, but it is simply true - Europe has many examples of efficient, high quality state run services.

Under the influence of Margret Thatcher and Ronald Regan, the UK decided to try to adopt the US model of having everything privitized. Now they have some of the worst and most expensive public transport and health services in Europe. As a result of this, the UK government has recently increased taxes (shock! horror!), with general public consent (no! it can't be true!).

All I'm saying is this - free markets and competition does not guarantee quality and low price, and government controlled does not necessarily mean high prices and poor service. The sensible solution is to have free market competition and public funded services, and use the most appropriate one for the situation.

Re:Privatization = Decreased Competition? (1)

tpv (155309) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509164)

Legally enforced government monopolies have zero incentive to compete

That depends on what sort of "legal enforcement" is in place.

e.g. Australia Post has an effective monopoly on mail delivery. (Yes, there are couriers, but there is a large difference between a courier, and a postal service).
IMO, the primary factor that has kept Auspost an efficient and friendly company has been pricing controls.

Everytime Auspost wants to raise the price of a standard postage stamp, they need to petition the government to do so. Their inability to increase the price arbitrarily, has forced them to create

  1. Alternative income streams
  2. More efficient processes
e.g. You can pay your bills, and do your banking at post-offices. Why? Because Auspost capitalised on the fact they they have an office in almost every town. They sell the presense to other providers, so the post-office acts as an agent for your insurance company. This increases income for auspost (better throughput on remote offices), and decreases overheads for the insurance company (less offices required).
e.g. (again) Auspost gives companies savings if they pre-barcode their mail. All properties have a barcode, and you can obtain the list of address-barcode mappings. If you are doing bulk mailings, you can save approx 10% on your mailing costs, by simply printing a barcode on your envelopes, when you put the address there. Saves money for Auspost, saves money for Mailer.

This only works because the government owns the Postal Service, and puts a tight control on it.

In industries where there is either

  • An inability to support multiple providers
  • An abnormally high barrier to entry
it is more beneficial to have a government controlled monopoly, than an unregulated monopoly - provided the government maintains proper controls.

In Australia, telcos fall into both categories.
You simply can't have multiple local exchanges, and we have such a low populaton desity, that running a physical telco is absurdly expensive.

Where there is local competition, is sectors of the market, where multiple companies are using the same infrastructure to offer competitive services. (eg long distance).
Telstra should never have been sent out into the market the way it was. The infrastructure should have been retained in a government owned utility, and the services on top of that should have been split off and privatised, to compete in the open market.

Michael Schumacher is a cunt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3508928)

Well, he is. The whole fucking Ferrari team would be doing the world a favour if they all died long, slow, painful deaths.

Fucking cunts ruin F1. Burn in Hell Ferrari.

Last Mile? (3, Interesting)

brooks_talley (86840) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508934)

Surely you mean "Last 200 feet." At least, that's what it's like in any remotely urban area.

-b

Fine if the land is flat (2, Informative)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508939)

But try this in the valleys of South Wales and you'll soon realise that copper has its advantages.

Not A bad Idea (1)

El Pollo Loco (562236) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508947)

I'd be down for this. Where I live I've been having all sorts of cable line problems with att broadband. Not in my house, but the cable they have running to the neighborhood. So if I could get 802.11b, I'd probobly go for it.

similarities to hawaii (1)

ndevice (304743) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508951)

This seems similar to the hawaii article that ran on /. a while ago, but the implications here are more commercial. While I can see how the non-commercial aspects of the hawii thing would work out, I'm not sure how they're going to get different groups to work together in this case. Maybe it'll just slow things down.

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/03/13/1940 21 0

Consumer cost many be similar (5, Insightful)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508952)

Considering that the initial installion charge to the consumer when ADSL is installed is more than the cost of a wireless card, it may be the way to go. The real cost of the hardware is immaterial to the consumer, it's the amount charged to the consumer that matters. This may be the way out of the Telstra broadband monopoly in most areas.

The costs to the service provider may also be significantly less than using the full Telstra ADSL or ISDN service. In some areas they may only need to put an antenna on the roof of their office and pay Telstra for the connection to the backbone (instead of having to also rent wires to their customers).

I'm amazed by the number of people in Australia who ditch their ISP due to poor quality connections, and then have the same problem with the next ISP - and don't realise that everything is coming down the same wire controlled by the same telecommunications company.

To all those who are confused as to who Telstra is, it is the formerly government owned, half privatised telecommunications company that owns most of the communications in Australia. The remainder is owned by Optus/Singtel, a mainly Singapore government owned telecommunications company, which has a few lines, provides cable TV and broadband to a few small areas and has a mobile phone network. These half privatised companies have most of the worst aspects of both goverment (a we rule you attitude) and private enterprise (more charges for less service all of the time). The way they are heading, full privatisation will turn them into monsters that make the worst multinational mining corporations look like a charities. Therefore, anything that increases the choice here is good.

All the other telecommunications companies mainly just rent space on those two networks.

Re:Consumer cost many be similar (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509045)

Apologies to the poster... I selected "Interesting" when moderating this but the system seems to have assigned "overrated". I don't know who to report this bug(?)to.

Re:Consumer cost many be similar (2)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509055)

Apologies to the poster... I selected "Interesting" when moderating this but the system seems to have assigned "overrated"
Oh well, down from 50 karma, perhaps I'm overrated anyway.

Re:Consumer cost many be similar (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509189)

When you posted this comment, your moderations in this forum were automagically removed. It's a god thing to know in case you regret a moderation some other time as well.

/Janne

Too much (3, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508954)

Everything is on 2.4GHz, theres not much to go arround though! wireless networking, last le, bluetooth, wireless video senders, cordless phones

Put it all together and none of it will work, except the microwave.

"standard components"? (2)

SkulkCU (137480) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508966)


standard components...

...like pringles cans?

Seriously, as a consumer, I would have serious doubts about security, but I suppose I might just be underestimating the security of my current access.

Irrational (4, Insightful)

Baki (72515) | more than 11 years ago | (#3508976)

As others have pointed out there are numerous technical problems with wireless if used at a large scale. It is all the more irrational knowing that there is already a good last mile in place: the local loop. Mostly it has been paid for with tax money, i.e. you could say that everyone owns its own local loop.

Thus, it is only logical to separate the local loop from the service providers. Create a non-profit (public owned) company that maintains the local loop and offers it at cost price. The telecom companies can compete to offer service over this public infrastructure.

Just like the road system (which is mostly public in most countries). Everyone can use them for a relatively small amount of money. Imagine the situation where there would be no public roads, but the 'local transport company' alone would build and own roads and offer their transport services (trucks, taxis) in one package; since you can hardly have 3 different roads leading to your house, you would be dependant on 1 or maybe 2 transport companies if you want to use the road leading to your house.

Would privatization solve such an absurd situation? No, since no true competition can't exist even if the transport companies would be privately owned (i.e. strive for maximum profit).

The only solution is to have a public infrastructure, and have private companies compete using this public infrastructure.

The polititians that essentially gave away the local loop to a privatized telecom operator (i.e. they gave away something that the public has paid for) made a huge mistake. This must be corrected.

Re:Irrational (0, Troll)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509175)

Even if I don't disagree with you, I'm surprised that such a "communist" and "anti-american" view has such a high moderation rating.
Perhaps US slashdotter are still asleep.

Already Doing It in India (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509008)

There are atleast 3 ISP's doing this in India.. ut not using standard equptment, they have specially modified high-power directional antenna.

Besides the favored method is to do Wireless to a roof-mounted antenna at a commercial (or apartment) complex and then do a 10baseT ethernet switched network inside the complex.

So the last 0.99 mile is wireless but the last 0.01 is yet copper ;)

$200 per 1 mile does not add up. (3, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509024)

I think i'm close to the average price of a 802.11 tranciever. Back to my point, I can buy 1000 feet of cat5 for $50 dollars a box. Maybe 2.5 boxes per last mile? In quantity it would be cheaper of course.

So i'm lookin at $125 dollars per mile VS $200 dollars per mile and i'm asking myself, ARE THEY COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR MINDS? How hard is it to run a cat5 cable over someone's fence? Hell I share my DSL with my neighbor that way (Pesky teenager d/l on kazza screwin with my CS games)

So point is, this is what I would classify as an overengineered idea. Too expensive, too much stuff can go wrong, no no no no. Look at what happened to metricom a.k.a. Ricochet. Same plan basically and it died because they needed something like 300,000 subscribers just to cover their equipment costs.

At least the cable can be recycled for scrap metal. Not sure what you can do with a 802.11 basestation.

--My Sig is a warning that it's 1:30am and I can't be held responsible for this ramble because i'm pretty flipped out.

Re:$200 per 1 mile does not add up. (3, Informative)

RevRigel (90335) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509042)

The limit on a Cat 5 run is around 100 meters. A mile is 16 times that. Also, Cat 5 is meant for indoor use. You need to count the appropriate outdoor conduit in that cost, as well, which in many cases may be several times the cost of the cable itself (just like how it costs hundreds of times more to dig up the ground than the fiber to put in the hole does..which is why we have so much dark fiber. As long as they've got it dug up, they put in as much as they can afford).

Re:$200 per 1 mile does not add up. (1)

poptix_work (79063) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509190)

How do you figure $200 per 1 mile on the wireless side? With a $49 D-Link DWL-650 (PCMCIA wireless card), a linux box (find an old 486) and an 8db omnidirectional antenna you can easily go 5-10 miles, with an amp to bring it up to the max EIRP of 4 watts (FCC limitS) you could probably get 15 miles with the right antennas on the client side.

The access points can do it, but the lack of protection for the businesses in the frequency space makes it too dangerous for the larger companies, while smaller ISP's might try using it here and there. (I worked for one, it's bankrupt now)

Re:$200 per 1 mile does not add up. (2)

johnburton (21870) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509217)

Yeah you are correct, it would be much more than $200 per mile. The card costs $50 (Don't know where you can get them that cheap, but I'll take your word for it). The adapter card so you can actually plug it into the PC you talk about is maybe $90, the "linux box" is worth maybe $300 the antenna maybe $100. Now remember you've got to get network cables and router ports for your pc. Maybe another $40. That's not too far from $600 right there, and I'm sure there are other costs I've forgotten about.

Its not a company. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509037)

Perfect case for RTFA.

CSIRO is not a company, its a government funded research institute

Reminds me of some projects killed after the burst (2)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509040)

This reminds me of the following:

One and half years ago at least nortel, most likely the others had a last mile box in the making. To be more exact a real last mile box. For the last mile between the patch board in the street and the customer house. At least the Nortel project was a DSL/Voice/ISDN concentrator that was supposed to be deployed in the street as a replacement for those grey ugly distribution boxes most telcos use since the days of Bell. Concentrate close to the customer premises and carry over fiber or vDSL to the exchange.

Most of these projects got cancelled during cost cutting exersies. You know the drill: it is something new, so you should not do it and stick to the areas of "core expertise".

If they were not cancelled the question of "out of range" would have quickly stopped to exist. Same for line noise and line-to-line interference (the usual problem with DSL).

Just comes to show that some cost cutting exercices during the dot-com burst have been outright stupid...

Anyway, back to the 802.11 topic. Once sanity is back and some startup (or the classic switch vendors) starts putting these out the 802.11 broadband will be as dead in the water as wireless local loop. It is not something that can be used to beat the telcos at their own game. It is a great office network, hotspot filler, neighbourhood network but broadband it aint.

Read the article (and a few books on Security) (3, Insightful)

iritant (156271) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509054)

Two comments have been made in this discussion that warrant reply. The first is that 802.11 cannot be used because of signal problems. Nonsense. Those who read the article would realize that you're going to use antennae that focus the signal (i.e., use hyperbolic dishes). This lessens noise and increases signal strength. For those in the Bay Area, a great example of this can be found in The Exploratorium, where two people can sit *inside* a pair of hyperbolic dishes about 40 ft away from each other and hear each others' whispers.

In addition, this nonsense about being afraid of wireless access to the Internet due to security is *silly*. You're connecting to the Internet. What sort of security do you expect on a normal *wire*? Want real security? Use IPsec, TLS, or ssh.

Remember, here in America we have our own troubles with last mile access, the cost of getting into COs and all that fun. This is a good alternative in other countries where access is even more impeded.

Re:Read the article (and a few books on Security) (2, Insightful)

DeBaas (470886) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509162)

In addition, this nonsense about being afraid of wireless access to the Internet due to security is *silly*. You're connecting to the Internet. What sort of security do you expect on a normal *wire*? Want real security? Use IPsec, TLS, or ssh.


True, but right now internet access is useally not secure, but it is controlled. Your connection to your ISP is fairly save as people useally don't dig in your neighbourhood to tap in to your line.
With wireless you don't have to tap into the lines but just use your own 802.11 card and you can tap into all the traffic around you.

What is at stake is stuff like email passwords etc. This can be solved by using secure logon but most ISP don't offer this.

Re:Read the article (and a few books on Security) (2, Informative)

numo (181335) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509235)

Those who read the article would realize that you're going to use antennae that focus the signal (i.e., use hyperbolic dishes)

At the provider side? For a few point-to-point customers yes, but normally you have an omnirange at the provider and (more or less ugly) directionals at the customer side.

I live in Slovakia, where there still is a monopoly for the wired local loop to the end of this year. We have no commercially available DSL yet. Of course the wireless is cheaper and everyone and his brother is using it for everything and does not give a sh*t about the regulations.

The band already is clogged in the bigger cities. It does not matter how one company plan the network - there are many and they are not going to plan it together.

The reach is no problem - I know of a few 20 km point-to-point links. The density is and the unregulated band is not a way. There are technologies in the regulated bands (FWA at 3.5 and 26 GHz here) that are meant to provide a high-speed local loop. WiFi as a last mile is a kludge - it will work but...

problem is probably not equipment cost (1)

g4dget (579145) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509074)

It's not clear that the problem making wireless more attractive for the last mile is the equipment cost. Everything helps, I suppose, but installation and ISP transmitter costs (antenna rental, Internet hookup) are likely to be more costly. See sprintbbd.com for one venture that has been put on hold.

uhhh ... death-penalty for children (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509148)

There are only 3 countries in the whole world with death-penalty for children : Iran, saoudi-arabia, and the united states ... isn't it time the US abolishes fundamentalism ?
The US, moral worldleader ? urgh ...

Ahh the CSIRO (3, Insightful)

awol (98751) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509168)

An amazing organisation. Depsite the vagaries of public funding it is a network of insitutions with a proud history of discovery and invention.

The specific research in question here is to determine the feasibility of the idea and to answer (with facts rather than BS we have seen here) the question of whether the wireless technology is viable. And despite the erudite position of some of the "interesting" slashdotter's, I'll take CSIRO's results before their opinions any day :-P

Re:Ahh the CSIRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509213)

Slashdotters and members of CSIRO are not a mutually exclusive set. :)

It's a viable alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509174)

The use of wireless to solve the "last mile" problem has been growing at a steady pace since around 1997. At least in the mid-south. A small company called www.aerosurf.com started using the equipment to provide broadband access to small rural towns in the south. A close friend of mine recently took advantage of the unique characteristics of grain elevators to provide Broadband access to practically anywhere. It is/has/will be an excellent alternative to an otherwise poor communication infrastructure that rural areas have now.

It's a viable alternative.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509176)

The use of wireless to solve the "last mile" problem has been growing at a steady pace since around 1997. At least in the mid-south. A small company called www.airosurf.com started using the equipment to provide broadband access to small rural towns in the south. A close friend of mine recently took advantage of the unique characteristics of grain elevators to provide Broadband access to practically anywhere. It is/has/will be an excellent alternative to an otherwise poor communication infrastructure that rural areas have now.

Amazing, 7km! (Not) (1)

poptix_work (79063) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509182)

It continues to amaze me that people are astounded that a 2.4ghz signal could manage to travel more than 500 feet, this article speaks as if 7km is something to brag about.. I've personally setup 20 mile links with "standard components" without any problem.

As for the last mile, I sincerely doubt it will happen on a medium that the telco/cable co cannot fully control, and last time I looked there wasn't any frequency space near the 2.4ghz ISM band available for national use (in case an ISP decided they wanted to use their own licensed frequency).

Doing it in colorado (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509183)

In Denver Colorado, If you drive around sniffing, your can find that there at least 4 seperate isp networks running around.
The first is MileHigh Online. It appears that they have about 400-500 customers. Another is one from idcomm (but they don't advertise it) and appears to have about 100-200 customers. idcomm is also insecure.
Another is techangle. But they seem to have shown as having traffic with idcomm, but not anymore. Another insane insecure network though. Haven't figured out the fourth one yet.

Why not: (2)

autocracy (192714) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509204)

I use a wireless net in my house because I like to be able to move around with my laptop. My experience has been this: even with just me on the net, low ping times and fast transfers are only attainable by wire. Sure, wireless is great for browsing and other misc. taks, but if you get somebody that games, don't expect it to happen. Also not good for too much past entry-level DSL. If you're a wireless ISP, cool - there's a place for that. But I'd shudder to see everybody trying to make this a standard last mile...

Re:Why not: (2)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509247)

You've missed it. Lots of people can't get 'standard last mile' because they are more than 3 miles away from exchange. I mean sure, if they can get ADSL they should.

Otherwise, ieee802.11b can give them connectivity- and may be able to give them faster throughput than ADSL can in fact.

Anyway, my experience doesn't align with yours. My ieee802.11b gives me much better link than I get from my ADSL line. Maybe you just have crappy equipment.

could someone explain to me... (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 11 years ago | (#3509205)

Are there some signal amplifiers that one can get? Because, as last I heard, 802.11b only had around a 300 foot range... not 7km.

I ask because i'd love to have a good wireless setup in my college dorm... maybe with the cooperation of some other students, so we could walk around (at least parts of) campus and still have connectivity...

links?

Last km not last mile. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3509266)

This is Australia after all.
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