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Starbucks Clashes With WiFi Hobbyists Over Airwaves

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the dr-evil-at-play dept.

The Almighty Buck 329

fobbman writes: "Portland Oregon's Pioneer Square (the heart of downtown) has had free WiFi access provided since February by Personal Telco, which is a local group of computer hobbyists. Now Starbuck's is planning on offering the same service on the same band in the same area for $29.95 a month, according to this story in the local fishwrap. Without regulation or licensing, and with WiFi growing, this could become a common problem."

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WTF? (0, Redundant)

Warped-Reality (125140) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102754)

What the hell is starbucks doing offering wifi?

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

tapiwa (52055) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102785)

You have wifi, you hang around the cafe surfing the net. You hang around the cafe, you drink cups of $$ coffee and eat on their ££ munches.

Its amazing how many people (in the UK at least) treat the local Starbucks as their company's extra meeting room.

Re:WTF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102787)

It makes perfect sense.

Joe with a laptop goes into starbucks, orders latte and flips open his laptop.

Enter John with his laptop across the street in another Starbucks (because in 10 years there woul dbe 50,000 locations nationwide).

Joe and John wirelessly share porn over the WiFi while enjoying their coffee.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102860)

Come on, ubiquitous wireless access is the goal, so that anyone can use their wifi device regardless of location. That Starbucks wants to offer wifi shouldn't suprise anyone. I think the issue here is that Starbucks charges for their wifi access, whereas many other businesses offer it as a free service.

Re:WTF? (-1, Offtopic)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102882)

Yeah slash, make it mandatory to reply if you want to mod someone.

Re:WTF? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102918)

More importantly, why does it cost 30 bucks a month to check your E-Mail at the coffee shop? Isn't that a little high priced for something you use at a place you probably don't spend more than 30 minutes at?

My home based broadband costs less than that.

Portland, OR: ultraliberal mecca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102759)

That city has a long history of politically correct kowtowing for any cause-of-the-month. It's run by ultraliberals for ultraliberals. So this doesn't surprise me one bit.

Re:Portland, OR: ultraliberal mecca (1)

bman08 (239376) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102837)

what the hell does one thing have to do with another? It's not like starbucks is planning on offering competitive welfare or school lunch or any other so-called liberal social programs.

Oklahoma City is run by ultraconservatives so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the local mcdonalds started offering 49 cent cheeseburgers on tuesdays.

See because the actions of nationwide fast food chains are dictated by the political ideology of municipal governement. It all makes perfect sense.

Can't do that? (2, Insightful)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102762)

Isn't there a law in the US of A that basicly (very basicly) says "If your charging for it/running it as a part of company infrustructure, then you need to change to fit in with the public free users" ??

I'm fairly sure that I've seen that somewhere...

Re:Can't do that? (4, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102776)

Isn't there a law in the US of A that basicly (very basicly) says "If your charging for it/running it as a part of company infrustructure, then you need to change to fit in with the public free users" ??

Of course not. Those public free users are obviously Evil Terrorist Commie Content Pirates(tm), and should be kicked off in favor of the Good American Patriotic Capitalist(tm) company!

Re:Can't do that? (4, Informative)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102890)

Wi Fi is unregulated in most countries.. including US
And currently most chipsets support frequency hopping to aviod cluttering.
The problems are coming in becuase Telco's are trying to make it east for themseleves by sticking to one channel. This saves on equipment costs and stuff.
In the long run this causes problems.. but remember thats how most people operate.... Find a solution only when problem comes... if preplanning was the norm the level of chaos would be much less.
The 802.11b standard is beautifuly designed but most people do not implement all the features to cut costs

Who was there first? (3, Interesting)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102766)

Why does Starbucks get priority? The other network is there FREE as a PUBLIC SERVICE, plus it was there before the Starbucks (or at least their network). Sounds to me like the city should tell them to limit it to inside their shop or make them shut down.

Re:Who was there first? (5, Interesting)

Jetson (176002) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102818)

Why does Starbucks get priority? The other network is there FREE as a PUBLIC SERVICE

Free vs. commercial shouldn't even enter into it. The real issue here is that companies are flooding a portion of the radio spectrum that has been set aside for general use and then clamouring for regulation after the fact in order to prop up their business model and turn "users" into "customers".

Re:Who was there first? (2)

dietz (553239) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102864)

companies are flooding a portion of the radio spectrum that has been set aside for general use and then clamouring for regulation after the fact

No one is clamoring for regulation. Read the article. Starbucks doesn't even know about the Personal Telco link. If anyone is clamoring for regulation it's the Personal Telco people and posters like you.

Re:Who was there first? (3, Informative)

amlutias (24318) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102975)

T-mobile was made aware of the free access both during site survey and installation (we happened to be around both times).

Nobody, especially personal telco, wants regulation, and nobody's saying that they chose channel 1 maliciously. But, there's a problem. Staying on channel 1 will hurt their quality of service just as much as ours, if not more, since people expect more when they're paying for it.

Re:Who was there first? (1)

soulcuttr (555929) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102889)

I think that summed it up rather nicely.

One would hope that these two services could resolve their dispute amicably, because (as the article says) "they cater to completely different markets". What I find sad (or perhaps I should say typical) is that in the absence of a strict externally-imposed set of regulations, a company would rather do whatever they please without regard to others instead of doing what common courtesy/sense would dictate -- to play nice and share.

Clearly I am no businessman.

-Sou|cuttr

Re:Who was there first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102834)

I work for starbucks and I see men in your cup of joe.

Re:Who was there first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102852)

Bad logic, darwin says dont have kids.

More links (5, Informative)

countach (534280) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102767)

Here is a link [weblogger.com] about using wireless mobile at Starbucks. Here is a Wall Street [wallstreetandtech.com] article about it, and a brief intro [nycwireless.net] . Here's an article [weblogger.com] praising the idea.

Starbucks finally read the holy doctorine of... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102769)

...Microsoft.

They are branching out to places they shouldn't.

Re:Starbucks finally read the holy doctorine of... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102881)

You're closer to the truth than you may have realized.

The initial Starbucks wireless roll-out was a joint effort with Microsoft.

Re:Starbucks finally read the holy doctorine of... (4, Informative)

cioxx (456323) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102947)

It was Latte wishes and .NET dreams all along.

Story:


Internet and caffeine addicts unite - you have nothing to lose but your foam. Microsoft (MSFT) and coffee monolith Starbucks (SBUX) have agreed to jointly offer high-speed Internet connections in Starbucks stores throughout North America, the companies announced Wednesday.

Internet access will be made available over MobileStar Network's wireless broadband network, using Microsoft software and its MSN portal Web site and service, Starbucks, Microsoft and MobileStar said in a joint statement. The companies did not disclose any of the agreement's financial terms.

The in-store wireless service is expected to launch during the second quarter and will integrate Microsoft's .Net Internet appliance strategy, the companies said. The companies did not disclose what fee customers would be charged, if any, to access the wireless network so as to, for example, check e-mail over a skinny latte.

The partnership with Microsoft and MobileStar is part of an overall strategy by Starbucks to upgrade its operations, the companies said. Plans are in the works for a Starbucks customer card, which are intended to speed up orders, and eventually, the ability to preorder drinks over mobile phones, the companies said.


source [thestandard.com]

Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (3, Insightful)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102778)

I wonder to what degree this article is an actual documentation of a dispute. According to the article, Starbucks didn't even know there was a conflict. The Personal Telco people just don't want to be forced off "their channel". It seems like this whole "news" article is just a sly advertisment for T-Mobile and Starbucks and their new partnership.

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (5, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102844)

No, this is a legitimate story. I'm a PTP member fairly involved in quite a number of projects (though I wasn't involved in this particular node), and here's what I know:

The T-mobile installers talked to several PTP members in Starbucks as they were installing the hardware. They were made aware of the PTP node, and which channel it was on, as well as how long it had been installed (since February 2001).

T-mobile uses channel 1 on all their sites, so this is actually not an intentional act on their part, but either laziness or "corporate policy".

Channel 1 is used by these companies because software searches for an AP from channel 1 upwards. Obviously, they want to be found first.

A TV news spot (link can probably be found on the PTP site soon, I captured/encoded it and let others mirror on faster machines) was also shot today at the square, with a half-dozen PTP members sitting there trying to surf. The clip shows the tmobile and www.personaltelco.net AP's flashing in and out, as they stomped on each other. Performance of both network (we presume, no one has wasted $30/mo on a T-mobile account) sucked badly.

And for the curious, the Pioneer Courthouse Square Starbucks node is fed by a *satellite* connection, meaning horrendous latencies. The PersonalTelco node at the same location is fed by dual T1's. Do the math on bandwidth and latency, and tell me if you want to spend $30/mo for T-mobile....

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (1)

andrewski (113600) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102958)

Pay to sit around in the square or god forbid the nearby starbucks for $30 a month? F that.

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (4, Insightful)

guttentag (313541) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102851)

It seems like this whole "news" article is just a sly advertisment for T-Mobile and Starbucks and their new partnership.
Hardly. Before the article even mentions T-Mobile, it points out that Starbucks is trying to promote a pay-service where a free service already exists. How does informing readers of the free-alternative promote the $30/month service?

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (2, Interesting)

soulcuttr (555929) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102912)

Perhaps following the 'any publicity is good publicity' rule. While you and I may see this as negative, there are those out there who will see the article and think to themselves "Hey, I had no idea Starbucks offered a service like that!"

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the news article was an intentional advertisement -- but it may serve as one nonetheless.

-Sou|cuttr

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102904)

Starbucks didn't even know there was a conflict.

That's because they didn't bother to look either.

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (2)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102916)

"According to the article, Starbucks didn't even know there was a conflict..."

This is probable. Virtually nobody is aware of the service down at Pioneer Square. The only reason I found out about it was a short blurb on the news a few months ago.

Re:Legitimate concern or disguised marketing? (1)

amlutias (24318) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102960)

that's entirely incorrect. just because you were not aware of it does not mean "virtually nobody" is aware of it. it gets quite a lot of usage.

Typical Starbucks (3, Interesting)

checkitout (546879) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102781)

Their whole business model is based on running out the competition and clustering their stores.

Generally they buy out old coffee houses, or promise the landlord of these existing cafes higher rent. Get an entire area filled with starbucks, then once the area is associated with coffee, they start closing up their shops, until they only need one in the area.

So it's only logical that they would take the same approach with WiFi.

Pioneer Square? (2)

Wonko42 (29194) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102784)

I think you mean Pioneer Courthouse Square. At least, that's how Portlanders generally refer to it.

Now, what we really need is free WiFi on the Max and the Portland Streetcar.

Re:Pioneer Square? (2)

Fnord (1756) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102817)

I was about to say, damn Portlanders stole the name from Seattle.

Of course, Personal Telco is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102786)

www.personaltelco.net, or portlandtelco.net if you're really an optimist ;-)

WiFi? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102795)

Wi Fi

More dead than alive!

Rockin' the plastic like a man from the casket!
--
if you disagree with me, please mod me down. don't bother replying, because i'm write.

Obligatory Onion Article (4, Funny)

Ezubaric (464724) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102796)

Re:Obligatory Onion Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102921)

Woefully behind the times. Starbucks has already entered Phase three. Those glowing radioactive dogs? Yep, spies.

Fuck Globalist Starbuscks!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102797)

Their CEO is a rabid Zionist, too

Jamming for fun and profit (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102799)

Obviously Starbucks can lose their shirts on this. Their opponents are more likely to actually know how to tweak their access points for higher output and swamp the signal. This has been discussed here before about raising the power of an Accesspoint. I would hazard to guess that boosting the signal to a coffee hack at $tarbucks means they will pour Espresso into the box. OPPS.

personal telco (1)

blastedtokyo (540215) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102802)

strangely Their web page [personaltelco.net] has no mention of any conflict. Just a "hooray, we made the paper" announcement.

Globalist Starbucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102804)

Screw 'em!

Fucking monoculture pollutants from the New World Order...no wonder the rest of the world hates us

Buy Local....fuck Starbucks

...and their CEO is a rabid Zionist

Breaker 192.168.0.19, breaker - breaker (2, Interesting)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102810)

This reminds me a lot of the way people used to step on each other during the CB radio boom of the mid seventies.

I wonder how long it will be before someone starts selling 100W 802.11 amplifiers ;-}

Problems with Unregulated (3, Interesting)

RumGunner (457733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102814)

In fact, I have a friend who is trying to set up a similar friendly wifi network in my town, and when he approached the local University network administrator he was told flat out that if he "interfered" in "University network space" that he would be speaking to the University lawyers.

I know that Big Brother is our enemy in Slashdot, but it's hard to do anything constructive in unregulated space. Imagine the chaos if FM wasn't regulated.

Re:Problems with Unregulated (1)

barc0001 (173002) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102828)

SO you're saying that you are OK with one company (Clearchannel) owning most of the FM space? That is the danger of tight regulation. Makes it easy for one company to gradually push everyone else out.

Well, it depends on how the regulations are writte (3, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102922)

You can just say "you can't more then X radio stations" and be done with it. In fact, that was the way things used to be until the telecom 'deregulation' act of 1996. Interestingly, this clear channel shit didn't start until then...

No regulation means no monopolies, but so does 'good' regulation. The problem is all this 'deregulation' stuff isn't actually deregulation, but rather changing the regulations in order to let greedy people game the system for $$, usually at the expense of other people.

Re:Well, it depends on how the regulations are wri (2)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103033)

No regulation does *not* mean no monopolies. Take the radio waves example. No regulation would mean it would be legal to stomp on a small competitor by just overriding his radio signal on his frequency with your own, using a more powerful transmitter.

Re:Problems with Unregulated (2)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103022)

That tight regulation existed long before Clearchannel took over, and it didn't change in any way that affected said takeover. Is the clearchannel takeover bad? Yes. Was it caaused by the fact that the FM space is regulated? No.

Re:Problems with Unregulated (4, Insightful)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102855)

The University, of course, would be laughed out of court by the FCC, as unregulated means unregulated. No lawyer would have to be hired, no money or significant time expended, just read the relevant sections out of the FCC regulations to the judge and go home.

Pirate Radio (2)

barnaclebarnes (85340) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102943)

A little off topic but relevant to above post....

When you have people using FM spectrum for free you get a much wider variety of music played by people who really care. No ads, and no endless soft rock (unless the DJ wants to play soft rock...)

check out Pirate Radio [dmoz.org] for more.

Re:Pirate Radio (2)

DunbarTheInept (764) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103017)

When people can do whatever they damn well please with the FM spectrum then he with the biggest transmitter wins, regardless of who *wants* to listen to which station. Don't like your competitor? Just stomp all over his signal by broadcasting your station more powerfully on the same frequency. Preventing that sort of abuse was originally the sole reason why the FCC was created in the first place. Now, I agree that since that time the FCC has waaay overstepped thier charter, especially with regards to content-control, and that that's a bad thing. But to take the extreme opposite stance that no regulation at all would lead to free use of the spectrum by "the people" is hogwash. He with the biggest transmitter would win. That's the way it used to be *before* regulation.

boycott starbucks (0, Troll)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102819)

Not only do they use shady practices against other coffee shops to dominate a market, they are now using those same shady tactics on computer users. Their owner is also an extreme supporter of Israel, so whenever you buy a cup of coffee there, you are helping to fund a nation that fires rockets into civilian apartment buildings. There are much better stores than starbucks, everyone should get their java elsewhere.

Re:boycott starbucks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102867)

Who gives a flying fuck? You take your socially-conscious purchasing decisions and ram them up your smelly asshole for all I care.

I just want a fucking cup of coffee, and I don't give a shit if the beans were picked by Nubian slaves in some tropical rainforest.

If you wanna go out in the woods and listen to Pacifica and wank off while worshipping your earth mother that's your business, but don't be some totalitarian leftist nazi and presume to tell me where and how I should spend my shinies.

Fuck all you rabid leftist socialist....you're nothing but totalitarians who want to dictate every aspect of everybody's lives....fucking control freak motherfuckers. Fuck Nader, fuck the Greens, and fuck all the lesbo dykes who are too ugly to get laid and don't wear any makeup

Re:boycott starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102869)

As opposed to what... a bunch of terrorists that flies planes into office buildings and shoots children in their beds?

IHBT. IHL. HAND.

Re:boycott starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102878)

you must be Mr. Van Dreesen off of Beavis and Butthead

Re:boycott starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102909)

If I boycott Starbucks will you boycott your towelhead Moroccan restaurant in Berzerkeley?

Because you know, they most likely are sympathetic to those Palestinian homicide bombers killing innocent Israelis.

Re:boycott starbucks (0)

Skraggy (71227) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103025)

There is one thing being the private supporter of freedom fighters, and being the public supporter of a government determined to anihilate another nation because of a religious difference.

Now think carefully, which side is which? Depends on which paer/TV station has brainwashed you.

Remember former president Nelson Mandella, how many years was he imprisioned as a Terrorist? It's all down to the spin, whether it is colour, sex, race, or religion, those with the most funds, and best spin always come out of the shit shining.

Starbucks has little to do with their WiFi (2, Insightful)

X_Caffeine (451624) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102824)

My sister is a Portland Starbucks manager, and a couple days before they rolled out their WiFi access, I had the opportunity to snoop through some of the papers and documents for training the employees and managers.

The short of it is, Starbucks has practically nothing to do with TMobile [tmobile.com] 's WiFi access. The managers and employees know next to nothing about the Internet access except for the fact that it exists, and that if customers want to use the access they should call up Tmobile. That's it, so don't jump down Starbucks throat over this.

Why Tmobile can't simply change their channel is beyond me; I imagine that nobody at Tmobile with any technical knowledge has been alerted to this yet.

Being "The Most Wired City" has it's downfalls. (1)

Broadband (602443) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102825)

Portland is great for all the new technology that's tested. We were the first market for Albertson's Webvan type service, and the first market where Safeway directly competed with them. Now while I really do enjoy these new services that are brought to us this starbucks "business venture" is pure crap. If you go to http://www.pdxwireless.org you'll get a another mapping of all the wireless network areas and more and more of Portland is being Wifi wired. Hopefully the hobbiests can either outpower the starbucks network, or starbucks can go open and public, but the chances are not even worth figuring.

Re:Being "The Most Wired City" has it's downfalls. (1)

amlutias (24318) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102997)

just a quick note: pdxwireless is mostly defunct, at this point, and their map database isn't really being maintained, so it's probably fairly out of date.

the personaltelco map server is actively maintained, and probably provides the most accurate depiction of intentionally open nodes in portland at the moment.

Re:Being "The Most Wired City" has it's downfalls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4103015)

http://www.nodedb.com has a list of nodes across many continents...

Common Problem (2, Troll)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102826)

I worked for a wireless ISP, and we had to deal with this all the time. The 11 channels of 802.11b are all there is to work with, and we would constantly have to dance around existing systems. At least, the players here know who they are up against.

If they can't resolve the frequency coordination, and it devolves into a shouting match, Starbuck's is gonna win. They will have access points located within their premeses (sp?) and will no doubt have the maxium legal power and antenna structures allowed by the FCC. If the private guys can punch thru that signal, they're doing it using illegal power levels or antennas.

Also, a corporate sponsored setup would have the potential to have a higher speed backbone in and out of the shop, and ultimately be able to provide better service than the free guys.

Re:Common Problem (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102896)

Surely you know this from working there, but for the benefit of the other readers: only 3 of the 11 channels are totally separate. They are channels 1, 6, and 11. Using any other channels will eventually result in some kind of overlap.

Do this: put an access point on channel 1, then put a sniffer on channel 2. Notice that you get most of the beacons. Move the sniffer to channel 3. Notice that you still get them, only a bit less. You get the idea. By the time you get to channel 6, you don't get beacons from channel 1 any more.

In a pinch, you can probably use the other channels to *reduce* the problems of using the same channels, but it won't totally solve the problem.

Analog cell sites have bunches of non-overlapping frequency sets. 802.11b has 3. Now imagine tiling a city with that handicap. Ouch.

Re:Common Problem (3, Insightful)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102976)

Also, a corporate sponsored setup would have the potential to have a higher speed backbone in and out of the shop, and ultimately be able to provide better service than the free guys.

Not really. T-mobile has hooked up this node (and quite a few others from what I've heard, for cost reasons) to the 'Net with a satellite connection. That means ~400Kbps downstream and horrible latency.

The PTP node on the other hand is directly connected to two almost entirely idle load-balanced T1's.

Re:Common Problem (2)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103012)

Well, that's why I said "potential". At first they may try to save money with cheapo connections. If it gets down to a dirty fight, the corporate types will have the $$ on their side, and they would be able to afford a Frac/T1 or Biz DSL into the shop if they thought it would be profitable to win the war.

They'll have to provide superior service for pay than their customers can get for free already. In areas where there is no existing free service, they can probably get away with the service class you mentioned, because no one there knows better or has an alternative.

Also, somwhere it was mentioned there was no difference in QOS between the free service and the corporate one, so if that's not an issue, then signal strength (read: throughput speed) becomes the only one - which do you get better? Most likely, the closest local signal (i.e. the one originating inside the shop).

Re:Common Problem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4103089)

Why should Starbucks win? Just take a Starbucks cub full of gasoline into their restroom. A few fires and they'll leave the area or get the message. Killing a few of the workers "accidentally" wouldn't hurt either.

It's not Starbucks offering the service. (0)

profet (263203) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102829)

http://www.tmobilebroadband.com

T-mobile is the company offering 802.11b access in most Starbucks and many airports.

Huh? (3, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102832)

Someone explain why this is a problem... If both parties use modern wireless technology, can't they just co-exist? Users will be free to connect to the free access point or buy a login for the Starbucks point. And they shouldn't render each other unusable no matter how close they are.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Broadband (602443) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102845)

Because if one system is free, open and public, and another is a account limited secure network requiring login and password then you have a problem. If i am trying to connect to the free wifi network and I'm in an area where the pay service is stronger then I'll be the one my card will see, and if both networks are on the same channel this will continue on in a constant power struggle. He who has the stronger signal would be the default node so to speak.

It's the commercial service that has to move along (3, Interesting)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102836)

If you operate on unlicensed spectrum and charge for it, you'd better be in a very isolated area or focus your service based on something else than just offering the spectrum.

"These community-based wireless networks are wonderful, but these will never take the place of actual wireless systems deployed by carriers or companies such as T-Mobile," Ameri said.

They will exactly TAKE THE PLACE. What's left, is providing something special on that SHARED place. It will not take very long, when there's an international network of open gateways, and services that are provided commercially now (such as easiness to log-on anywhere you are). The share of the commercial companies will get smaller. IMHO, the commercial companies cannot provide much extra - they can do it first, but if it's useful these free services will adopt it.

Once they can license or otherwise guarantee the bandwidth, the situation changes. Like, if they can provide GPRS or some other means when the quality of the WiFi goes below certain limit (although I don't see any reasons why this could not be done by anyone else than the GPRS provider too) :)

(*note* this might be partly a troll, but I would still like to have comments on these :)

Re:It's the commercial service that has to move al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102847)

A lot of WISPS (well, the ones that haven't fallen flat on their faces and gone the way of chapter 11) are moving to licensed spectrum. Oh well.

Re:It's the commercial service that has to move al (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102861)

> when there's an international network of open gateways

I know, I did it again, but read this [englishplus.com] before starting the possessive possessive thread again :)

Stick to the standards (2, Insightful)

verbal (24849) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102841)

Why not use the standards that are available. IEEE 802.11 [ieee.org] uses frequency hopping to eliminate this problem. I thought most of the wireless ethernet cards used this protocol anyway. Oh, well, I don't care. We don't even have Starbucks, we have to make our own coffee.

WiFi == dumbspeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102872)

WiFi is business magazine dumbspeak for 802.11

Re:Stick to the standards (2, Informative)

amlutias (24318) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102989)

um. we're using 802.11b. the industry standard.

the problem is that the IEEE defined 14 channels, or sequences of frequency hops, 11 of which are legal to use in the US. only 3 channels don't overlap at some point. Those channels are 1, 6, and 11. In Pioneer Courthouse Square, before t-mobile, there was a weak AP on channel 11, and personaltelco on channel 1. Logically, you would assume a for-pay service interested in providing quality would use channel 6. Even the most cursory of site surveys would've detected these competing signals.

REMEMBER SEATTLE ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102842)



the people still hold the power. we can smash their windows once more.

Re:REMEMBER SEATTLE ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102933)

rock on brotha. I got two bricks and a paintball mask in my trunk waiting.

Statbucks is like M$!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102859)

ASSHOLES!!!

For those whining about no regulation... (2, Flamebait)

tlambert (566799) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102866)

For those whining about no regulation... just how the heck would having to pay $200 million to get a spectrum licence help out people providing free wireless access? How are you going to recoup license fees, if you don't charge for service? I guess everyone should charge for service? I can't wait to set up my "toll sidewalk" outside your building, if there should be no such thing as free public access to resources...

I can see how it would help the people who want a barrier to entry against free competition in an area where they'd like to charge money... well "boo hoo". The air waves belong to the public, and the free service was there first, and all your paid customers can get service from the free service anyway. So Go Away, Please.

The way I see it escalating is this: the free service doesn't move and the paid service doesn't move and both services suck, so they both lose users, only the paid service loses money because of that, and the free service doesn't. Upshot: If you are the paid service, and you don't want to lose money... move. Case closed.

-- Terry

802.11b supports overlapping networks (5, Informative)

Adam J. Richter (17693) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102868)

802.11b supports independent physically overlapping networks. Each network has a name (an "essid"). For example, if you had a network name "starbucks" and another named "free", and were using GNU/Linux, you could do:

iwconfig wlan0 mode Managed essid starbucks
udhcpc --interface wlan0
or
iwconfig wlan0 mode Managed essid free
udhcpc --interface wlan0

For more efficient transmission, you can even program your access points to use different frequencies. There are twelve overlapping frequency bands used 802.11b, which provide for three or four completely independent networks.

Attempting to associate with a network named "Any" or "" will usually result in associating the network with the strongest signal, depending on your driver and card. This is also true in other operating systems.

Perhaps it's more of a plug than a disclaimer, but I should mention I'm involved in LANRoamer [lanroamer.net] , an open source system that you can use to sell passers-by access to your wireless network and other participating networks.

Re:802.11b supports overlapping networks (5, Interesting)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102888)

For more efficient transmission, you can even program your access points to use different frequencies.

Yes, but the point of the story is that Starbucks (deliberately ?) chose to use the same frequency as the free guys.

And yes, the networks do manage to coexist, but with significant performance drops due to them sharing the same frequency.

Moderidiots! Uninformed karma-whoring above! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4102964)

Why is this tripe modded to +5? The guy obviously didn't read the story: Yes, 802.11b does support more than one channel, but No for some reason the two parties do not use that feature but prefer to camp on the same channel.

And yes, the story acknowledges that even with a shared channel it works... but only very slowly.

Idiot moderators. Throw a few out-of-context buzzwords around, and you move up to +5 Informative.

am i missing something... (1)

ferrocene (203243) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102880)

It's fairly easy to sidestep a signal, even many signals, regardless of strength.

First, you can change the polarity. horizontal vs. vertical. fixes most problems.

The other option is to switch from direct sequence to frequency hopping. I know it's slightly different, but it's all 802.11. Hell, you could even go 802.11a. There's many options people, you don't need to step on everyone's toes.

*i work at a small isp which is setting up wireless in several cities, it's all good.

Well if you had a decent standardisation body... (1)

vpreHoose (587524) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102886)

Used to see this problem at airports with mobile phone networks trying to attract foreign (or alien if you are in the US) roaming customers.
Each network would be belting out higher power than the others, with the total for four or five networks easily higher that the maximum RF fields permitted.
They solved this escalation problem by reading the standards and finding out that in a well specified system, like GSM, the mobile should randomly pick a signal if they are over a certain strength (unfortunately this is a greatly simplified view and why most telco's got it wrong and started a power war).

The same principals for mobile network selection were ported to CDMA systems in the US, so I presume it would also work with 802.11 if they had read any of the other telecommunications standards out there at the time.
Apologies to any people involved in 802.11 standardisation, but this is how it seems to me.

FCC says (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102887)

... that if you use the frequency indoors and don't bleed out, you can do whatever you want with it. All SB has to do is deny that their wireless signal works beyond the front door. I know...I know...it will bleed, but SB doesn't have to take responsibility for that, now do they. Look for this to be brought up during the sure-to-be-held hearings.

To those who've never been there.. (5, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102900)

I know most of you are gonna go on about how Starbucks is evil and a bunch of other irrational bullshit, I thought I'd inject some common sense from somebody who lives by Pioneer Square:

"Representatives of Starbucks and T-Mobile owner VoiceStream said they were unaware of any other wireless Internet presence in the square and had no comment on Personal Telco's objection."

Let me tell you something about Pioneer Square: Nobody's walking around with wireless devices screwing around on the web. To tell you the truth, the only way you could have found out this service was even availble was a quick blurb on the news. It doesn't surprise me at all that Starbuck's didn't even know it was there. Heck, it was sheer chance that I even found out about it. I go by Pioneer Square nearly ever day, I can honestly say I have never ever seen anybody doing wireless stuff there. (Not saying they don't do it, just saying that it's not visible.) I don't think more than a handful of people are aware of the 802.11 cloud present there.

Now, Starbuck's is right there on the square. They could set up a nice little antenna (heck, they could probably just use a $150 gateway, serious.) and it'd work just fine. This has nothing to do with trying to wipe out another service like it, it's just geography, it's just a coincidence.

Re:To those who've never been there.. (5, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102952)

It doesn't surprise me at all that Starbuck's didn't even know it was there.

Except for the part where several PTP members happened to be at Starbucks the day the T-mobile installers came. As I mention in my comment above, they talked for quite a while, with the T-mobile installers being made aware of a) the PTP node, b) how long it had been installed (some 6+ months by then, longer in testing), and c) what channel it was on.

As far as people not knowing about it, that is a problem we're trying to solve. If you saw the noon or 6:30 KGW news today you saw a piece about the node at the square and T-mobile's arrival. A week or two ago a half-dozen PTP members spent several hours handing out freshly-printed full-color trifolds explaining how to get online. Stickers are quite frequently placed at various locations, and promptly removed by Starbucks employees, but since it's not actually a public square, there's a limit to how much we can do legally.

Re:To those who've never been there.. (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102986)

Except for the part where several PTP members happened to be at Starbucks the day the T-mobile installers came. As I mention in my comment above, they talked for quite a while, with the T-mobile installers being made aware of a) the PTP node, b) how long it had been installed (some 6+ months by then, longer in testing), and c) what channel it was on.

Re:To those who've never been there.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4103040)

Crap. I hate the way that the "submit" button is the default button when you hit enter. I had a point, but I'm not really willing to wait another two minutes to say it.

Re:To those who've never been there.. (1)

Forrestina (120989) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102970)

let me tell you another thing... i don't even live in portland anymore, and i know about it. i live in ashland. i have my own little wireless group down here. and whenever i'm in portland, i drop by the square and check my e-mail, irc, and ssh to my servers back home. i was there with a friend and 2 people came up and asked us about it, they both had already heard of PTP and that there was wireless here. it's there, and i think a bunch of people know about it.

and they were aware, they talked to 2 friends of mine (who were just screwing around on the web at the time) when they were installing the node. both of them are part of personal telco, and they talked about a node being there. it seems they're either rude, lazy or both if they don't change their channel. i mean, come on! the techs doing the install knew at least...

Re:To those who've never been there.. (2, Interesting)

eander315 (448340) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103068)

I know most of you are gonna go on about how Starbucks is evil and a bunch of other irrational bullshit...

Oh common. Starbucks is not going to be happy if someone is offering free wireless service that could undermine the Starbucks for-profit service. According to one of the posts above yours (and posted earlier), Starbucks knew there was already wireless equipment in the area, and they chose to ignore it. Sure, they're just trying to make a profit, and while "evil" is probably too strong a word, they are being jerks about it.

This has nothing to do with trying to wipe out another service like it, it's just geography, it's just a coincidence.

This has everything to do with trying to wipe out another service like it, of course it's geography, and it can't be coincidence if they were aware of the other service before they put in their own.

SBUCKS is temporarily blocking the inevitable (4, Interesting)

spartan (30665) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102907)

Starbucks main interest in this is merely to prevent people from sitting around their retail stores and using their computers for free. This way, they get to charge everyone for the space, inside the retail stores that they will occupy during the time they are using their computers. Of course, the cup of overpriced, high-margin, beverages made with over-roasted beans, to me should be considered fair charge for rent/use of the space.

Of course, Starbucks has gotten used to making a very, ahem - overly generous share of the profits for a beverage - what is it, something like 1200% gross margins? - so, now, they're just doing what comes natural, taking another market segment over in which they can jack us all up for the convenience of using our own property, our computers, while inside their location.

It will probably become the case that they will use some sort of technology to over-ride the ability of Personal Telco to provide free access anywhere near a Starbucks location. Then, those who want to even go near the place will be forced to pay Starbucks a damn subscription fee just to try and use what they once where able to use for free. Starbucks will, essentially, highjack the air in and near their retail locations.

So, seems to me that if everyone who was smart about this and committed to maintaining free access, they would cluster as many free access points around every Starbucks as they can.

Let's look at a parallel situation for comparison (2)

guttentag (313541) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102913)

A local community service group gives away free home-made lemonade on a busy street corner. A mammoth international corporation observes this, realizes that there is a "market opportunity" in people who are interested in drinking lemonade in that area, spends months putting together a business plan to sell their own lemonade at $5 a glass, and drives their lemonade-trailer over the the community service group's card-table lemonade stand.

The next morning, the trailer manager arrives at work to discover the community service group has pushed the trailer down the street. So he runs them over again. This goes on for an extended period of time, during which no one is getting lemonade because the corporate jugs tipped over as the trailer ran over the card table which held the free jugs. Yet this goes on day after day with no end in sight.

It seems to me that the company is so bent on profit (from a market where the product to be sold is already free) it is willing to engage in a spending race with the non-profit, betting that the cash-strapped non-profit will go home if it can't distribute its product. Most non-profits would rather spend their money on something else if their efforts are for naught.

In this situation, I see one of two things happening:

  1. The non-profit makes use of its local connections to inform the local populace of the situation, and ask them to stop patronizing the corporation's other businesses until it stops trying to take away their free lemonade. The non-profit needs to make a point of explaining that the corporation wants to force consumers to pay for something that's already free.

  2. The international corporation lobbies Congress for a new law which effectively gives for-profit corporations sovereign squatting rights over non-profit entities. That's best for the economy, they will claim, because it creates jobs and keeps money circulating instead of stuffed under mattresses.
My money's on Starbucks paying a political action committee to lobby Congress to "do the right thing for the economy in these troubled times" and "bring order to the wild Wi-Fi frontier."

Starbucks is certainly the problem here (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102915)

From what I've read, this apprears to be the deal here:

- PTP was there first, and has a far superior connection (Dual T1's vs. T-mobile's satellite connection)

- For some reason, T-mobile refuses to occupy a different channel.

- Everyone's connection sucks now because of the clash.

The longer version of this can be found on Omega Hacker's comment [slashdot.org] .

I just wanted to drop in my 2 cents that this is very foul of them to do. Portland is such a great place for the outdoors and computing that it's completely counterproductive and unnecessary for them to wreck a beautiful merging of the two. It's a great place to read, and I've been hoping for the day when I'll be able to work on a notebook comp there. I can't help but think of magnificent pranks that the green and white mandatory tourist stop could use to accomodate this action.

Does it matter? (3, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102938)

At my last place of residence, I had WiFi net access (though, we called it 802.11b at that time...).

The company [comwavz.com] providing this service had constructed a rather large (several hundred feet large, dwarfing an AT&T microwave relay station a few hundred yards down the road from it) tower near my house.

I guess I should mention that the landscape around here is flat. Like a ruler. And completely devoid of obstructions.

I had no trouble at all getting 500 kBps downloads using the Aironet 350 AP and Pringles can-looking antenna they provided and installed from this massive tower 2.1 miles away.

The point of this text? They cover, probably with some degree of success, a very significant portion of Northwest Ohio with just ten of these towers.

Cell phones don't get that kind of range.

And even -handheld- cell phones are good for up to for 600mW of output (in the US, per FCC rules). The Aironet is about half of that.

Old-school bag phones had output of up to 3W. Which -might- have been as good as Comwavz -appears- to be doing with plain old 802.11b.

I never got rain fade, or snow fade, or any fade at all while I used it, even when conditions rendered visibility to zero. My microwave didn't phase it, and waving my 2.4GHz spread spectrum Uniden cordless phone directly in front of the antenna didn't make any measurable dent in latency. An arc welder used directly below the antenna didn't make a difference, either.

Things worked almost as well after an hour or two of sustained 50-70MPH winds kicked the loosely-mounted antenna so that it was at 90 degrees to the aforementioned towering wonder of bandwidth - the least efficient way I can imagine for that type of antenna to work.

I was able to also communicate -directly- with a few other of their customers. Those which I was able to identify were often several miles away, none with antennas pointed at mine (nor mine at theirs). Speeds were slow in this ad-hoc arrangement, sometimes in the range of 30kBps, but often were on par with my (current) 2Mbit cable modem.

I am led to wonder, thus, precisely what the problem is. It seems to be a remarkably durable way to communicate, and I have difficulty believing that Starbucks, of all places, can put a dent in anything controlled by people with motivation to make it continue working.

(I did have some downtime, once or twice, but each time that happened I was able to use binoculars to spot a guy wearing a toolbelt, jacking his way up that towering steel phalus. I attributed the temporary loss of bandwidth to safety of his (obviously brass) balls, not to any enviromental or interferance issues.)

Re:Does it matter? (4, Interesting)

amlutias (24318) | more than 12 years ago | (#4102996)

the problem is rather simple. imagine another wireless isp, building a similar tower 10 feet away, and trying to use exactly the same segment of the RF band to serve its customers.

you get an insane loss of reliability and signal.

personaltelco would be fine with moving our AP to another channel, but we're loathe to establish a precendent.

The really disgusting part... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4103014)

is that all Starbucks would have to do is switch which channel they're using at their access point.

-Argh! in pdx

How does the community group pay for itself? (4, Insightful)

Goonie (8651) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103023)

I read the article, and I'm wondering how Personal Telco can afford to provide access to two T1's for free. Last I heard, that kind of high-quality bandwidth still doesn't come cheap.

This is stupid. (4, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103041)

Everyone is saying no I was there first. You know T-Mobile is not going to do anything. Personal Telco should do the friendly thing and just move to a different channel. What channel your on makes no difference in how long it takes to get a link anyway. At leastr that's been my experience.

Regulation (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 12 years ago | (#4103070)

Not being American (thank god) this may already exist without my knowing, although I doubt it... The answer to this problem, before it gets out of control, is to regulate the airspace. Have it, or a portion of it, officially designated public (ie not commercial) airspace. Then the commercial enterprises can duke it out with each other without tromping on public services
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