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Mobile WiMAX to Succeed Where Muni WiFi Failed?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-get-me-some-wi-whatever dept.

93

WiNot writes "WiMAX's supporters are positioning Mobile WiMAX as an alternative to municipal WiFi networks in the wake of recent cancellation or postponement of muni WiFi projects in Chicago and San Francisco. 'There's no business case for municipal WiFi ... With many municipal WiFi deployments in a holding pattern, it may be Sprint's Xohm WiMAX network will be up and running before muni WiFi can get its act together.' From what Ars saw during its Motorola-sponsored cruise on the Chicago River earlier this week, WiMAX has the potential to deliver the goods in terms of speed, latency, and reliability. If Sprint hits its goal of blanketing metropolitan areas with WiMAX in a timely fashion and prices the service attractively, the kind of expansive municipal WiFi networks once envisioned in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco could go the way of Pets.com and Flooz."

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93 comments

One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774099)

Since when was anything from the big telecoms inexpensive?

Re:One problem (4, Interesting)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775483)

Bingo. But, since we've bought into the "free market fixes everything" idea 100% in the US, we're gonna be boned. Even tho every example of telecom rollout has screwed us over to the tune of tens of billions of wasted bucks, we keep handing them the keys to the cash register.

Figure out how much muni WiFi would have cost, total. Then add up all the future private company bills for service. Yup. We're screwed. I've always said that the real cost is the TOTAL charge for every customer since the inception of service, added up. It's fun to figure out how much a taxpayer-paid nationalized internet would have cost, and then add up every wireless, cable, telephone and DSL bill since the beginning of private service. Ans: we've been massively overcharged.

Do we pay for roads like this? Airports? Harbors? Altho it's interesting to note that embedded GPS and cell systems have led to a pilot project for a state to charge your car per mile driven. So we'll get it both coming and going, first taxes and bonds, then a usage charge.

The ultimate question is: where is the money going? Who's making billions unfettered by regulation?

Wait... what??? (1)

NEOtaku17 (679902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20778285)

Since when have subsidies and government granted monopolies been the definition of a "free market"?

Re:Wait... what??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20781801)

Since when have subsidies and government granted monopolies been the definition of a "free market"?
Welcome to the USA, you must be new here.

Re:One problem (1)

timjdot (638909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20785039)


The USA is not a free market. It is a corporatocracy. Try to setup your own ISP and you'll soon find out from who's pockets the city officials peer.

Re:One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20927013)

"But, since we've bought into the "free market fixes everything" idea 100% in the US, we're gonna be boned. Even tho every example of telecom rollout has screwed us over to the tune of tens of billions of wasted bucks, we keep handing them the keys to the cash register."

Do I really need to point out the internal contradiction in the above 2 sentences sentence? Oh, what the heck, I will state the obvious: [begin econonimcs lesson]If we have "handed them the keys to the cash register" (presumably with subsidies and exclusive spectrum licenses that cost the "tens of billions of wasted bucks," though you don't elalorate) then that is obviously not a 100% free market solution. That is a corporate welfare system. If someone is putting a gun to your head and telling you to pay money (or go to jail for tax evasion) that will be redistributed to companies to provide a service then that is not a 100% free market solution.[end economics lesson]

Re:One problem (1)

kakofb (725561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20777543)

If monopoly telecommunications networks are properly regulated by the government, then this problem goes away.
Look at the OPEL WiMax network proposed for providing broadband to rural areas of Australia. Wholesale access is mandated by the government, and hence prices will stay low due to practically unlimited equal competition.
Optus are building the network under this presupposition, with the objective of offering decent broadband to areas not economically feasible to be covered by ADSL2+ networks - not to make grotesque amounts of money (like Telstra's 850Mhz HSPDA UMTS network that has/will have a similar footprint, but charges $100/month for 1GB at 6mbit theoretical max speed).

Doubt it. (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774129)

Here are the two biggest problems.

1) Where can I buy a WiMAX wireless adapter? Hint: AFAICS, you can't. Do a search on Pricewatch or Froogle, or even go to Sprint's Web page. OTOH, every laptop being produced today comes with support for 802.11a, b, g, and/or n.

2) WiMAX uses licensed spectrum. Cities looking to provide WiMAX service need an FCC license to do anything.

Re:Doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774227)

It is possible to use WiMax on unlicensed frequency (and much of the equipment does support these outside frequencies), but then it technically isn't 'WiMax' (to the working group's standards). We used to do this where I work before going on the licensed route (although different country, but I assume some of the unlicensed bands in the US fall within the equipment's operating frequencies), and it worked just as well licensed frequencies as most interference can be tested for in site surveys.

Funnily enough, other companies saying they were running WiMAx in certified bands actually used it in the unlicensed bands despite their claims.. probably because of the hassle of licensing very many channels.

Re:Doubt it. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774555)

Except, of course, that if you're using unlicensed frequencies, you must limit power levels, which limits the utility of WiMAX, which is intended to cover large geographic areas.

Re:Doubt it. (1, Redundant)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774311)

Once the networks are up and running the equipment will become available. WiMax CPEs will still be an extra cost compared to WiFi that is included "for free" in computers.

Re:Doubt it. (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774369)

I think you are still better off with a cellular broadband adapter, which can be bought in USB, CardBus and ExpressCard variations. Municipal WiFi is just the wrong solution to the problem, it's a duct tape solution and somehow people sound like they are expecting custom machined quality out of it.

Re:Doubt it. WiMAX PCMCIA card dirt cheap here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774391)

Discounted prices:

ZyXEL MAX-100 WiMAX IEEE 802.16e PCMCIA Card, $469.99

Oh, and get the new ZyXEL MAX-200M1, IEEE 802.16e CPE with Built-in Router/Firewall and VoIP IEEE 802.16e-2005 WiMAX Air Interface (TDD SOFDMA), ONLY US$699

Must not have gone past the first google page.

Re:Doubt it. (3, Informative)

fishdan (569872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774393)

Considering that there are businesses [terrapingeographic.com] in place betting on this, you can be sure that people will get that stuff to market. As for cards they also have to be licensed by the FCC [arstechnica.com]. But WiMax is going to be online very soon [arstechnica.com] -- Motorola will now not only be developing the network in Chicago, but also in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Samsung will also be developing the market in a number of cities: Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, and the previously-announced Washington D.C. Finally, Nokia will be responsible for developing the network in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Seattle. All in all, Sprint plans to roll out WiMAX in 19 cities across the US by April 2008.

19 cities by April 2008? Bullshit. (1)

scgops (598104) | more than 6 years ago | (#20782855)

Sprint and Clearwire are doing a joint venture called Xohm.

Xohm currently plans to deploy WiMax to Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington DC in 2007, but commercial service [xohm.com] won't be available to customers until April 2008 at the earliest.

Service in other cities won't be commercially available until the end of 2008 at the earliest.

And that's if they can even live up to their press releases. Cellular providers are much better at announcing new services than delivering them.

-DaveU

Re:Doubt it. (2, Interesting)

irtza (893217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774397)

I agree with your sentiments. It would be nice to be able to use existing devices on this network without having to buy a new card or somehow connect it to a phone. I have a simple question. How legal would it be to say put 802.11b/g repeaters all over town in private residences? Maybe zone a city by region. I know this would be a rather slow connection, but just to provide basic wifi throughout town? Maybe only have like 9-10 base stations in a small town? and use commoditiy hardware?

Re:Doubt it. (1)

irtza (893217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774481)

Would something like This product [circuitcity.com] placed in homes surrounding say a public library with free wifi be legal? How far can you repeat a signal?

This is not an endorsement of a brand or anything, just the quickest link I could find. This would shift some of the burden to the townsfolk, but maybe the city could provide rebates to people within certain neighborhoods to have these installed?

Re:Doubt it. (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774743)

I don't think there's anything illegal with it, provided that you have the permission of the person who's providing the actual uplink, so that you're not stealing their bandwidth.

I once got involved with a group of people who wanted to deploy a system like that; basically a mesh network of wireless nodes. There was a linux distribution around that turned a computer with a wifi card into a mesh node, doing all sorts of neat intelligent routing. You could have multiple uplinks in the mesh at various points and packets would automatically pick the best route, it would route around damage, you could use cards with multiple wireless NICs to do long-distance WiFi point-to-point connections (although using external antennas with consumer wifi gear is technically a violation of FCC rules).

Unfortunately what hobbled the system was the limited number of Wifi cards supported by Linux. We wanted to use donated hardware and most of the wireless cards we could acquire cheaply weren't compatible. The situation might be better now (this was 4-5 years ago).

The main problem with Wifi or any other very low power system is that you need a LOT of nodes. That's why WiMax looks better; it can use higher power levels and thus you need a lot fewer nodes.

Re:Doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20775807)

Unfortunately what hobbled the system was the limited number of Wifi cards supported by Linux. We wanted to use donated hardware and most of the wireless cards we could acquire cheaply weren't compatible. The situation might be better now (this was 4-5 years ago).
You can actually do that with anything that can run DD-WRT or OpenWRT (both are Linux-based). DD-WRT has a web-based interface for setting up repeater networks, while OpenWRT is all command line. The new Buffalo one DD-WRT is recommending costs $50 (newegg has it on sale for $40) and is 125mps. Much cheaper than paying for the electricity a desktop computer would use to do the same job.

Re:Doubt it. (2, Insightful)

UninvitedCompany (709936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774613)

Take a look at what http://www.clearwire.com/ [clearwire.com] is doing for an idea of pricing for the devices and service and for the kinds of adapters available. The technology they are using is fundamentally very similar to WiMax.

The municipal WiFi players don't have spectrum, but they do have mounting locations and (in some cases) backhaul. Not trivial assets when contemplating a deployment.

Two problems just recently addressed (1)

spirellis (1143113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774727)

Airspan Networks Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida has recently announced a device family called MiMax(TM) which addresses both of these problems. They now have USB 2.0 WiMax adapters for laptops, etc, which can operate on unlicensed as well as licensed bands.

Please see today's article in CNN Money:
http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/marketwire/0307789.htm [cnn.com]

Quoting from article: "The MiMAX USB is a ground-breaking product that will enable end-users to connect to virtually every Mobile WiMAX network that is deployed worldwide, and supports all of the target Wave 2 MIMO Mobile WiMAX certification profiles (2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, 3.3 - 3.8 GHz, and 4.9 - 5.8 GHz). This capability enables service providers to offer roaming services across multiple WiMAX networks regardless of the frequency band used. This incredibly slim device measuring just 98mm x 36mm x 8mm -- around 28cc, is one of the world's first WiMAX USB devices. The device is light and easy to carry, making it an ideal companion for the laptop-carrying traveller. The device is powered, via the USB port by the host computer. Its low power consumption and support for Mobile WiMAX idle and sleep modes means that while battery life is conserved, the MiMAX USB still delivers +22dBm at 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz and +17dBm at 5 GHz."

Re:Doubt it. (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774859)

I just got back from WiMAX World in Chicago today.

The two popular USB WiMAX dongles are the ones by Airspan
http://www.airspan.com/products_wimax_custprem_mimax.aspx [airspan.com]
and Samsung
http://www.samsung.com/us/aboutsamsung/news/newsRead.do?newstype=productnews&newsctgry=consumerproduct&news_seq=3584 [samsung.com]

Many of the silicon vendors and makers of filters and amplifiers at the show today
don't really expect to see much happening with WiMAX in high volumes for another year or so.

Re:Doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20775555)

Sprint is worthless and their efforts will result in more of the same. We won't see a wifi revolution unless Google successfully buys out the 700mhz spectrum.

Re:Doubt it. (1)

rmayhugh (1161901) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775607)

You are misinformed. To your first point, the WiMax cards/adapters will be available shortly before the services are launched. If you could buy one today it would not help you...right? Manufacturers of laptops and other devices have already signed up to embed WiMax the same way they have embedded WiFi. To your second point, the Cities will not need to license ANY spectrum, that is accomplished by the carriers. A much overlooked fact of the Sprint Nextel merger was that the merged company owns a national footprint in the 2.5Ghz spectrum...it was the reason Verizon and others fought the merger so strongly. WiMax is the future of mobile computing.

WiMAX can use unlicensed spectrum (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20779019)

WiMAX can use both licensed spectrum (e.g. Sprint, Clearwire) and unlicensed spectrum - the latter is more prone to interference of course, and is limited in the power you can use, so it's less useful for non-line-of-sight (NLOS) coverage (depending on how close you are to the WiMAX base station). See http://www.wimax.com/education/faq/faq48 [wimax.com].

I'd expect the commercial WiMAX services to use licensed spectrum, but that doesn't stop someone setting up their own WiMAX network if they can find suitable hardware supporting spectrum that is unlicensed in their country.

WiMax = Cellular 4G broadband (1)

scgops (598104) | more than 6 years ago | (#20782941)

You can't buy WiMax adapters yet because they don't exist. Motorola, Samsung, Sierra Wireless, etc. are all still working on chips and boards.

WiMax isn't the next generation of WiFi. It's the next generation of cellular broadband. In other words, the WiMax service that Sprint / Xohm has announced is an upgrade to their existing EVDO network. You'll be able to buy adapters for it when the service starts rolling out. Until them, buying adapters that don't work with any existing providers would be pointless.

-DaveU

Flooz? (2, Funny)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774155)

Flooz.com
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flooz.com was a venture based in New York City that went online in February 1999. Their plan was to introduce a currency unique to the Internet, somewhat similar in concept to airline frequent flier miles or even the old grocery store stamp books. (The name "flooz" was supposedly based on an ancient Persian slang term for money.) As Internet users accumulated "flooz" credits, often given as a promotional bonus along with an online purchase or else purchased directly to create a kind of Internet gift card, they could later be redeemed for real merchandise at a variety of participating online merchants.

Flooz.com was started by former iVillage co-founder Ted Levitan, and also notably used Whoopi Goldberg in a series of TV commercials before the company collapsed, announcing their closing on August 26, 2001.

Upon closing, all unused flooz credits became worthless. Over its history, flooz.com reportedly went through between $35 to $50 million in venture capital money.

Re:Flooz? (2, Funny)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774217)

Flooz.com was started by former iVillage co-founder Ted Levitan, and also notably used Whoopi Goldberg in a series of TV commercials before the company collapsed, announcing their closing on August 26, 2001. Upon closing, all unused flooz credits became worthless. Over its history, flooz.com reportedly went through between $35 to $50 million in venture capital money.
Someone should add "Since the flooz to dollars conversion was 1-0$, this was the day that the internet stock market plunged to its lowest level in years. It still has yet to rebound."

Re:Flooz? (1)

dozer (30790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774773)

It's a wiki! You can add it yourself.

Re:Flooz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20776835)

no, afraid I can't. My IP has been banned for inserting lines on the wiki pages for each actor on the show "Grey's Anatomy" as having a history of child molestation. yeah yeah, I don't have a source... I just know.

Flooz Rocked! I got Flooz Free (1)

Blahbooboo3 (874492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774847)

They had some many promotions that I got a ton of Flooz free and bought several nice things thanks to that $35-50 million in VC money.

Thanks Flooz and the bubble!

Licensed vs. unlicensed (5, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774265)

The article oversimplifies a little when it says that WiFi uses unlicensed spectrum and WiMax used licenses spectrum; in theory WiMax can operate in the unlicensed 3.8GHz band, but equipment that actually supports that band is scarce and performance will be worse in 5.8GHz than in licensed 2.5GHz. Also, it's not clear that municipalities could get 2.5GHz licenses even if they wanted them; AFAIK the licenses have virtually all been bought by Sprint and Clearwire, who presumably have no desire to divest them. Given these factors, cities appear to have a choice between 2.4GHz WiFi, 5.8GHz WiFi, and 5.8GHz WiMax; it's not clear to me that one has a decisive advantage.

Until the FCC is purged of Bush loyalists (1)

PaulGaskin (913658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774545)

Community network access projects are going to be undermined by aggressive telecommunications companies who want to own the infrastructure and limit your access on behalf of the MPAA, RIAA, as well as the networking companies who want to give you less and make you pay more.

Next (2, Funny)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774305)

Next in line: the WiiMax.

Re:Next (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20775859)

It is a little known fact that in his later years, Elmer Fudd went into the real estate business and worked for WiiMax.

Vista: It is Microsoft's Itanium (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774325)

posted anonymous for obvious reasons :-)

Re:Vista: It is Microsoft's Itanium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774409)

Does anyone know if vista runs on itanium? That would be a winning combination right there. The one dude with Os2 on aplha would have some one to make fun of.

Couldn't the cities just deploy the Wimax? (2, Insightful)

composer777 (175489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774375)

There's no reason to believe that municipalities wouldn't be able to deploy WIMAX as effectively as Sprint, is there?

Re:Couldn't the cities just deploy the Wimax? (2, Funny)

grilled_ch33z (1140073) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775245)

I totally agree. If there's one thing history has taught us, it's that government is just as effective as private enterprise.

Re:Couldn't the cities just deploy the Wimax? (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20777013)

No, no, no, It's If there's one thing history has taught us, it's that government is just as ineffective as private enterprise.

Re:Couldn't the cities just deploy the Wimax? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775349)

If they could deploy WiMAX, why not UMTS? It's the same kind of technology; long range, uses licensed spectrum. You can buy UMTS adaptors for laptops relatively cheaply. Of course, then they'd be competing directly with mobile phone companies, but they might get away with it if they didn't have any kind of POTS termination (data only) and didn't only covered a limited geographical area.

Re:Couldn't the cities just deploy the Wimax? (3, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 6 years ago | (#20778195)

If they did then the phone companies would sue for unfair competition and get the projects shut down. It's not fair for citizens to compete with their corporate overlords.

Cost (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774383)

The cost element of WiMax definitely worries me. I am so tired of paying full price for my cell phone service that I am taking steps to go with a combination of WiFi voip and pre-paid plans. As such I have recently acquired the Nokia n800 with Skype. Cost is the number one reason I chose to go with this platform instead of something like the iPhone. I simply can't justify paying such high data plan costs. I have heard Sprint will be coming out with a version of the Nokia N800 that includes 3g support. But I can't imagine it will be much more cost effective than Apple/AT&T's offering. So, since I am almost always near a computer or wifi network, I will continue to pay for the hardware up front and shun monthly data costs. I have dealt without having constant cell phone service before, and I can deal with having less connectivity once more.

Re:Cost (1)

FamineMonk (877465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775415)

Yea I have a N800 and I live in Minneapolis so I'm looking forward to when the whole citywide Wi-Fi network is done (I can hit one AP already but it gives me a pretty crappy signal a new one is going up next week just down the street) I plan to either ditch my phone all together or cut it way down for just 911 and when I'm out of the city calls.

Plus the N800 is going to rock when I can hit wireless anywhere within the city limits. :)

Swinging Beefpiece. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774417)

n/t

Limitations (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774453)

Does anyone truly think that Sprint, a mobile phone company, is not going to try to limit ports and nickel and dime the consumer to death. I foresee VOIP blocks, huge limitations on what you can use the bandwidth for, and maybe even per minute or bandwidth charges. Why would they lose buisness in one market to support another. This is why we need an independent third option.

Not a chance... (3, Funny)

mrgrey (319015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774517)

If Sprint hits its goal of blanketing metropolitan areas with WiMAX in a timely fashion and prices the service attractively ,......

Not a chance of it being priced attractively if Sprint is involved

Re:Not a chance... (1)

ansonmage (1163091) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774923)

Boy do I second that! Everytime I try to change my service plan, I end up with fewer minutes and paying just about the same. But seriously, every service provider of cell phones are after one thing... the money. They're not nice or friendly... they're greedy. It's their job to be so.

Re:Not a chance... Actually Sprint is cheaper than (3, Informative)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776003)

Of the four major cellular carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Tmobile and Sprint), Sprint's data prices are the CHEAPEST -- broadband EVDO at $15/mo (everyone else is $20/mo or more).

Sure, I'd love it to be free, but you really can't take Sprint to task for having expensive data service...

Re:Not a chance... Actually Sprint is cheaper than (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20777243)

How do Sprint's EVDO speeds compare to Verizon's? I'm trying to nail down who to go with, and Sprint's pricing/contract terms seem less draconian.

Re:Not a chance... Actually Sprint is cheaper than (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20778835)

Sprint's EVDO is much better but i would recommend waiting
for wimax

Re:Not a chance... Actually Sprint is cheaper than (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938791)

I have Verizon. The service is good, but the prices are high. And I will most likely not renew with them once I have finished my current contract. The primary reason for that is how they intentionally crippled the Razr phones, so that (for instance) you have to use their service to transfer pictures from the phone to your computer. And the ObEx facility in BlueTooth is disabled on Verizon phones, so there is no just setting the phone near the computer to transfer pictures and MP3s. Not to mention the fact that their UI is just bad.

I have an older version of Motorola Phone Tools that lets me (with a small configuration hack) transfer pictures and MP3s, but I can't upgrade it or the capability would disappear. If I did not have that, I'd probably have paid the penalty and dropped Verizon a long time ago.

Re:Not a chance... Actually Sprint is cheaper than (1)

woztheproblem (454186) | more than 6 years ago | (#20781481)

I agree completely. How does Verizon get away with charging $40 for what Sprint offers for $15? You'd think people that need data would all have left Verizon by now (aside from other constraints like family members on the same plan, etc).

Where are those prices ? (1)

curri (107175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20784167)

I just went and checked, and on my zip (30060) their cheapest data plan is $39.99

Two different goals... (3, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774615)


IIRC, the goal of the municipal wi-fi deployments was usually to provide free Internet access to people working in and passing through downtown areas. This idea was loudly and vigorously shouted down by the organizations that provide for-pay Internet access. The roadblocks to the municipal projects were not technical; they were political.

It seems a bit disingenuous to compare a free-to-the-end-user project* (municipal wi-fi) with a fee-paid-by-the-end-user project (wi-max service).

* Yes, municipal services are paid for with taxes. However, there remains a distinction between this and paying directly for a specific service: think of driving on a typical interstate vice driving on a toll road.

WiMax and WiFi can be complementary systems (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20774647)

My job currently involves working closely with WiFi and my company is one of those rolling out WiMax solutions. I'm one of the tech monkeys who end up reading papers and papers and have to come up with ideas. The two solutions do not have to be an "either this or that". They can be complementary. For starters there are two basic kinds of WiMax, fixed and mobile. The fixed solution can give you either long distance, or large bandwidth, but not both. The mobile solution gives up both large bandwidth and ultra long distance for mobility and is a different beast altogether. An ideal deployment scenario would be to utilize the WiMax for the last mile solution or medium haul and WiFi for the local cells. Mobility within those cells can be handled with Mobile IP, and if the user leaves the area of WiFi coverage, then it can fall back on the WiMax link (if it has a WiMax card). There's no reason to pick one over the other, choose both!

Wimax World (5, Insightful)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774697)

Here's a roundup of Wimax products [dailywireless.org] featured at Wimax World, where the Sprint demo took place. Scarcity of Wimax products will not be a problem.

I've been intrigued by Eric Schmidt's comment at the keynote introduction of the iPhone. "Wimax is coming," he said, without elaborating. Googling that phrase shows that almost no journalists have considered it an important remark, even though in the next breath he coined the term "applegoog" to describe how closely Google would be collaborating with Apple. "To merge without merging," as he put it. Later, Google announced its 700MHz interests, announced a collaboration with Sprint, which has announced its partnership with Clearwire (the two big Wimax telcos) and journalists still aren't paying attention.

So, yeah, Wimax could become the next munifi. It could also turn into serious headaches for AT&T, Verizon, and any company without a Wimax investment.

Everyone Forgets... (3, Informative)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20774913)

Both failures and successes so easily. Everyone wants to think that their idea was first and the best.

For a failure, Sprint tried long range microwave broadband several years ago. They were going to add it to their ION service offering, but when ION got killed, so did the microwave broadband project. Sprint isn't known for their quality of support either. Having them go back into this business is a scary prospect.

Who says municipal wifi failed? A couple big cities that do not make up a huge percentage of land area or population of the US failed at it, and that makes the news. What doesn't make the news are the successes of nonprofit municipal partnerships such as Lawrence Freenet [lawrencefreenet.org]. I'm a happy subscriber to my municipal wifi service, and I have excellent coverage everywhere in a city of 100,000 people. Municipal wifi has not failed, but many have failed to manage it.

What about HSDPA? (4, Informative)

Flipao (903929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775183)

It blows both EDGE and GPRS away in terms of bandwith and latency, and has a much wider coverage than WiFi and WiMax could ever hope for, it's only drawback could be a higher battery drain, but research focus has recently shifted towards maximizing power for portable devices.

I think WiFi is better suited towards local networking just as Bluetooth is useful to eliminate the need for wires, I don't see how WiMax can make that much of an impact unless they use an incredibly competitive pricing scheme...

"No business case [for municipal WiFi]..." (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20775279)

"No business case [for municipal WiFi]..."

It seems to me that there is no business case for public parks, either.

Not everything has to be about turning a profit for someone.

-- Terry

Re:"No business case [for municipal WiFi]..." (5, Funny)

kindbud (90044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776263)

Yes it does! Why do you hate America and love terrorists, you left-wing commie sonofabitch!

Re:"No business case [for municipal WiFi]..." (1)

hawks5999 (588198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20778419)

Yes it does! Why do you hate America and love terrorists, you left-wing commie sonofabitch!
Who is John Galt?

Re:"No business case [for municipal WiFi]..." (1)

Dannon (142147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20782671)

Are you kidding? There's a huge "business" case for public parks, if you recognize that the "business" of local politicians is (usually) increasing their own power, perks, and tax revenue.

How do they increase their power and perks? Most local politicians, at least where I've seen, are thoroughly "in bed" with local housing and commercial real estate developers. Build and keep pretty parks, sell more houses. Grow the population, get more stores.

More population and more stores all bring in more tax revenue. And if your local politicians are anything like mine, more tax revenue means they get to vote themselves raises and build themselves nice, new offices.

So, yeah. It's all about putting more dollars in someone's pocket. Even those public parks.

Municipal WiFi just doesn't have the power to sell houses the way public parks do.

Minneapolis (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20775305)

I can't speak to what's going on in SF or other cities, but Minneapolis is moving forward with Wi-Fi. This page (http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/wirelessminneapolis/) is the city's information, and this page (http://www.usiwireless.com/service/minneapolis/schedule.htm) has US Internet's schedule for implementation. I'm not planning to use this, but afaik it's moving forward.

This won't work either, for the same & more (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776221)

reasons.

MuniWiFi was a bad idea: WiFi in the 802.11b/g format has cell sizes that are limited because of the channel allocation. It has lousy propagation characteristics. Add that to terrible security, and interference problems with other devices.

Then-- find a model that makes sense to fund all of this and get it deployed in such a way that it has real coverage, especially in sparse and highly dense areas. There are none.

And only the chipset makers (Intel, stop it before you lose what little credibility you've bought back) are pushing 'Muni' WiMax. The business models? Let's line Sprint's back pockets, Intels, and do what-- use the limited acessibility of WiMax in high density areas? It must be a huge fantasy for these guys because there is no reality that's going to allow the same mistakes to be repeated yet again. Earthlink nearly tubed getting WiFi going, and Google has backed off plenty. Even a fat telco push isn't going to make a market that doesn't exist today. Verizon has its EV.DO(and ev.do-a where it thinks it can make money), Sprint is trying for EV.DO+WiMax, the US GSM'ers have plainly awful problems with speeds faster than a five-year old modem, and WiMax is going to be a hit???

Houston rocks (1)

1155 (538047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776267)

Houston rocks, and we still have wireless on the table. Chicago has the L, and San Fran has the lesbos, we'll have the wireless to attract the people to us!

This is all about the Benjamins (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776365)

WiMAX is patented and they get a constant revenue stream for the providers out of it.

WiFi is a lot cheaper and they get close to zilch revenue stream if people use it.

They just want to sell hardware.

Gagh. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776541)

To paraphrase Indiana Jones: "Sprint. Why did it have to be Sprint."

Verizon is the only other player in the game now (1)

scgops (598104) | more than 6 years ago | (#20783023)

WiMax hardware is ready to be used by CDMA based providers, but isn't ready yet for GSM. That means that it came down to just Sprint and Verizon for who would be first out of the gate in the US. Sprint did massive press releases. Perhaps Verizon decided to move slowly in hopes that Sprint would make big mistakes along the way.

-DaveU

Advantages over Spread Spectrum? (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20776841)

This just seems like a reimplimentation of the old spread spectrum technologies that was big about 6 years ago. What, if any, advantage does this offer?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spread_spectrum [wikipedia.org]

Re:Advantages over Spread Spectrum? (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20783259)

Carrier support means economy of scale. Technical capability without socioeconomic viability is worthless.

Muni WiFi was unrealistic. (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 6 years ago | (#20778335)

Muni-WiFi that covers an entire city, not just the "downtown core", was destined to fail. You're lucky to get a WiFi signal a block away from the access point... for a smallish city, you're talking about thousands of access points to install and maintain.

It's not as simple as plugging in a router at home and shoving in a CAT5 cable from your ADSL or Cable 'modem'. A muni-wifi network needs to find power and handle the data back-haul (though a portion of the data can be bounced over the same wifi network).

Anyway, a WiMax access point can cover 100 times as much space, so yeah, assuming a municipality can get the frequency, it makes a lot more sense.

Cue "The More You Know" song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20779359)

Why do you put modem in quotes?

You are aware that both cable and DSL 'modems' operate by 'MODulating' and 'DEModulating' signals?

It's not just a cute name carried over from 28.8 days

As for "WiMax", I doubt it will be "true" internet. I fully expect it to be crippled by the telcos, for the reasons stated before: They will not create a revenue stream that siphons money away from their existing streams. Expect high prices, restricted ports & traffic shaping or both. EG VoIP will be crippled or so expensive that it's not competitive.

EvDO Will Keep WiMax a Fantast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20778455)

Evdo Rev A is already widely deployed, profitable, and has very good speed. If more speed is needed, the way to go for Verizon and Sprint would be to upgrade relatively cheaply to Evdo Rev C (UMB), which provides blazing speed. No need for a completely new technology requiring new hardware and inherent disadvantages (albeit a few advantages too).

The WiMAX Snowjob (1)

Daxel (1133853) | more than 6 years ago | (#20781019)

What amazes me is that WiMax does nothing that RF doesn't already do. It is a rebundle of existing services and technology with the potential for interoperability between radios. Nobody seems to realize this and thinks it is an "super" new tech that can break the laws of physics and do everything they ever dreamed of in a wireless world. I have built 20-30 mile RF links in the 6ghz or 11ghz at 100mbps or greater. In theory, if the company decided to change the protocol and radio registration process, this would be a WiMax product. Radio links like this have been in existance for a long, long time. I have seen 45mbps DS3 links that are still functioning and were setup in the late 80's. I think this covers the "long range", and potentially, the "High Bandwidth". Some of the Ceragon (www.ceragon.com) has products that have "capacities starting from 50 to 400 Mbps per radio carrier". These are typically in 6ghz, 18ghz, or 11ghz (depending on range that you need). You can get a 400mbps link to about 30 miles using this gear, although you will need large dishes (8-12') with a 99.999% uptime. The gear will cost ~$40,000 and you need an FCC license ($3000 for 10 years). Mobile solutions also exist already today. Most of the tech is in your cell phones, and operate at various frequencies starting at 1ghz and going up. Because of propagation and object density, most cell companies have an infrastructure that includes a tower every mile or 1.5 miles. The reason you don't have super speed to your cell phones? They are bonding virtual pots lines to provide the bandwidth. If you remember the good old days of modem dialup, you remember there used to be a way to dial up on multiple modems and get 112k, and so forth. The cell companies are (for the most part) using that tech to give you bandwidth. As they expand the tech and gear at the towers, they can swap out this gear for something that makes sense - providing they keep support for the older stuff along the way. The biggest issue and problem with any and all of this (Muni WiFi or WiMax) is that it requires a huge infrastructure. You need to replicate the cell network size and complexity, regargless of if your radio is interoperable with multiple recievers. That is a huge cost. If you cannot come up with a way to pay for it, you cannot have it. "Free Muni Wireless" is supposed to come from the tax payers, or (wait for it) advertising revenue. Wow. Two things that historically don't work. The tax payers complain, and the Internet Advertising model is far from a hugely lucrative business model. From bidding on some of these projects, here is what I can tell you - for a city/town of about 5 square miles, you need at least $500,000 in equipment to cover it with decent propagation. It will take about another $500,000 to $1,000,000 to install all the equipment and set it up. (Remember, you are mounting this stuff on telephone poles, you need to phase the power to pull something you can use, and you need to get the permission of whomever owns the pole in the first place.) So, you have a line electrician, and a tech there to do this. You are talking 3-4 hours per install for a 2 man team. It adds up (quickly). You may also need to hire or pay for the police escort to close the road/lane while you do this install. So, your town now has a "wireless network". Who is going to support it? Maintain it? Fix it? Where does that come from? Let us assume that you have 20,000 people in this town. On average, you get 10% of a base of people who call in on tech support per month. This increases with a potentially non-tech savvy populace. Ok, so you might have 2000 calls a month. Average of 100 per work day (because, why would you be open on the weekend or after 5pm). Somebody needs to answer those and help the people - right? I mean, their tax dollars are paying for it - right? You also need to connect to the Internet "somewhere" for "some price". You may or may not need to run DNS servers, Email servers, web servers, support routers, switches, deal with outages, routing (you get the picture). So, you need a staff. You probably need a staff of 4-5 people (I mean, they are supporting a 5sq mile network). It comes down to the fact that you need an additional $300-400,000 in support costs per year for employees, maintenance, and other costs. So, your "free" wireless at this point has now cost each taxpayer $95 for the first year. It will continue to cost them $20 per year. In places where towns consider cutting arts and music programs at schools, or cutting back on policy/fire fighters/etcetera, this is a hard justification. While I do believe in wireless, it has drawbacks and limitations based on the frequency used. WiMax cannot adjust the RF propagation and reflection laws. It can make a level playing field so my brand X gear works with your brand Y gear (using an Intel chip).

Question for Wimax Experts (1)

Torontoman (829262) | more than 6 years ago | (#20782371)

I'm not an expert but have a specific question - Would Wimax be easily able to say, penetrate easily though the concrete of an underground parking garage?

Re:Question for Wimax Experts (1)

Daxel (1133853) | more than 6 years ago | (#20784569)

No. 900mhz would have a VERY hard time (would depend on the bounce) factor. 700mhz would have a VERY hard time (would depend on the bounce) factor. Might be able to do it with X-Ray... You stand there, and we will test.

Meanwhile, in other news .... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20785751)

This [slashdot.org] discussion seems to claim that the failing of municipal WiFi networks is their public/private business model.

Private networks, or networks with a significant private involvement need some source of income. In order to attract paying customers, they need to provide some compelling features or performance that existing technology does not to justify their fees. Purely public networks need political support for their financing and operations costs. Municipalities that have sold such networks to their taxpayers have succeeded when they offer such service purely as a public benefit. When a private operator is brought in, conflict arises between the operator's desire to maximize profit and the taxpayers reluctance to subsidize a for-profit operator with tax revenue.

WiMax is probably better from a technology standpoint, but what will make it succeed or fail is how it is priced. I might be motivated to switch my home broadband over to private WiMax service, but the price given in TFA (Sprint, $30/month) isn't competitive with my residential service plus free WiFi around town in various coffee shops. Why should I switch? Some users of cellular system broadband might, as this appears to be a savings over current prices. And probably better performance as well. But the market for mobile broadband (connect anywhere, not coffee shop needed) is pretty small.

I don't know what the economics of a purely municipal WiMax system might be. While the infrastructure may be less expensive (fewer APs, less fiber backhaul, etc.) the license costs may be prohibitive. If licenses are even available to municipalities, that is. Some smart ones may be able to justify license costs if they can piggy-back their own infrastructure and public service communications (fire, police, utility, etc.) on their WiMax systems. The other option, the public/private partnership may suffer from the same problems as public/private WiFi networks. The private half is going to want to maximize income and the taxpayers are going to be reluctant to fund a system that benefits some stockholders.

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