Category Archives: WiFi

Wi-Fi access point owners and the “common carrier” defense

Techdirt has a nice posting about the liability of wireless access point owners for illegal or infringing conduct carried out by other people accessing the Internet through their access point. Seems that some individuals may be purposely leaving their access point open (in other words, leaving encryption turned off) so that they could (1) cast doubt that infringing activity conducted using their Internet connection was conducted by them and (2) assert the benefit of “common carrier” defenses available to ISPs and other telecom companies for infringing content transferred over their network. Could it be that we’ll all end up with free wi-fi everywhere we go because people open up their wi-fi routers in the belief that it will help protect them from lawsuits filed by the recording industry? Of course, sharing or reselling Internet connectivity may be a breach of a user’s terms of service from their upstream ISP. But that may or may not be determinative of the potential defense. In any event, an interesting argument.

Linksys WRT54G – OpenWRT and Sveasoft in a nasty fight

One of Linksys’ most successful products has been WRT54G/GS/GL. Some would say this is because the router (well, at least the original versions and the current GL version) software was based on open source and a large community of third party developers has been developing new applications for the box. Two popular sources of replacement firmware for the WRT54 have been OpenWRT and Sveasoft. However, the two are now engaged in a fight and OpenWRT (whose software is licensed under the GNU General Public License) recently terminated Sveasoft’s license to use any component of OpenWRT.

From DailyWireless. If you are interested in purchasing a model of the WRT54 that can still be reflashed with OpenWRT or Sveasoft software, consult the chart at Wikipedia.

Toronto Wi-Fi – part 2

I had a look at the description of the wi-fi network that Toronto Hydro Telecom is proposing to build and found the following quote:

Additionally, not only will the Toronto Hydro Telecom Wi Fi network cover six kilometers in the heart of Toronto’s downtown core, it will provide service that is at least ten times faster than that of our competitors.

Personally, I think it would be more correct to say that the service will be AT MOST ten times faster, not AT LEAST. The maximum speed of the repeater to home user connection may be 10 times faster, but depending on the distance the speed may drop down to as low as 1 meg per second (only a fraction of the total maximum potential). Furthermore, it may be a little misleading to focus on the speed of that link only since TYT’s proposal to use mesh technology to deliver the service will mean that speed bottlenecks may be created on the backhaul between the various repeaters and a base station connected to TYT’s fibre backbone. The useful speed of the service may therefore also be much less than the potential being suggested. Cable and DSL also have certain bottleneck type issues. However, my point is that it is misleading to only look at the link speed of one segment in the network and use that as the basis for comparing the speed of the service.

That being said, the proposed service looks like a good initiative that hopefully will bring more competition to at least a small part of the Greater Toronto Area.

Toronto to get municipal Wi-fi

According to the Globe and Mail, Toronto Hydro Telecom is expected to announce that the creation of a city-wide wi-fi wireless network based on repeaters installed on street light poles. Toronto Hydro Telecom already provides broadband data services throughout the GTA using over 450 kilometers of fibre optic cable and its network connects to over 400 commercial buildings. I have not seen details about the specific technology THT plans to deploy but suspect that it may not be suitable for high bandwidth applications or applications that require low latency (since packets may need to bounce through multiple repeaters before reaching a base station).

Further details available from Mark Evans and The National Post.

Netgear Skype Wi-fi VOIP Phone

I previously wrote about Netgear’s forthcoming Skype-compatible wi-fi phone. Imagine being able to use Skype without a computer.

Well, more recently I did a search for “skype” on Netgear’s site but did not get any results. However, using Google, I found some information at a subdomain. Overall, looks like it will be a hot product once it comes out. Netgear claims the phone will come with 802.11g support but will only be capable of WEP encryption. I’m not sure why anyone would make a new phone these days and leave out WPA support. Further details about a release date and pricing is expected to be available before the end of Q1 2006.

Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) cell phones support GSM and Wi-Fi

New Unlicensed Mobile Access (or UMA) cell phones from manufacturers such as Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson are expected to deliver connectivity to both the traditional cell phone infrastructure (through GSM) and to VOIP services through Wi-Fi. However, its yet to be seen whether such functionality will provide competition and lower rates for consumers or whether these devices will be sucked up through exclusive deals by the dominant cell phone companies in the North American market, with the VOIP functionality tied to their networks. In other words, they’ll automatically switch to the cell phone operator’s VOIP service when used inside the home or in the office where cellular connectivity may be weak but where a strong wi-fi signal may be available, but won’t necessarily offer lower rates for such usage. To get the best of both worlds, I suspect early adopters will still need to carry two phones.

SMC All-in-one Travel Voice Gateway SMCWTVG

Talk about an all-in-one device. The new SMC Travel Voice Gateway (SMCWTVG) has almost everything a road warrior could ask for. It can be used as a wireless wi-fi (802.11b/g) access point, client or bridge. 1 FXS and 1 FXO interfaces (with RJ-11 connectors which can be connected to traditional telephones) for Voice-over-IP support. Address Translation (NAT), SPI Firewall and VPN pass-through. Expected to retail at US$199. Availability by end of Q1 from retail channels.

From HardwareZone and The VOIP Conversation.