Category Archives: WiFi

Wireless Hotspots and the Law

The following article appeared in the Feb 13/06 issue of Law Times in the monthly Bits & Bytes column that I have been writing for the past 12 years.

Not long ago wireless Internet access was mostly of use to laptop users. Now an increasing number of electronic devices are “Internet enabled” and capable of utilizing publicly accessible hotspots. For example, many PDAs have Web browsers that can be used to access the Internet or built-in e-mail clients that can synchronize over a wireless connection.
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Cingular 8100/8125

Cingular has announced its 8100/8125 phones (aka the HTC Wizard, O2 Xda Mini S, Orange SPV M3000, Qtek 9100 or K-Jam). According to an Engadget posting, the same underlying phone (MDA) is expected to be released shortly by T-mobile. The specs are impressive (alghough no GPS) but a few commentators who have played with the phone (known as the Mini-XDA in the UK) have posted remarks that raise a concern about its stability. Guess I’ll have to monitor the forums before making a purchasing decision.
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FON gets funding

I first wrote about FON in November and then in December. Now FON is in the news again because they got some significant funding from Google, Skype and others. Am I impressed. Not yet. Participation would likely require users to breach their terms of service contracts with their broadband providers or require them to pay higher fees in order to get permission to share the connection.

Mark Evans has a good perspective on this.

AuraGrid – rebroadcast Wi-Fi signals using existing cable

AuraOne Systems has a neat new product, AuraGrid, that can be used to rebroadcast wi-fi signals using existing cable tv (but not satellite) cabling. The solution is supposed to work with both 802.11b and 802.11/g signals. It comes with a 4-way duplexer/splitter that connects to the cable line where it enters the home. The wi-fi signal can be injected from, and is then sent to, any of up to 3 antenna units that can be connected to any room with cable access. I suspect that any low cost one-way amplifiers that may be present in the house may need to be upgraded to two-way broadband type amplifiers (of the type used with digital cable signals) or that the use of any amplifier may interfere with the operation of such a system. Also, one hopes that the 4-way duplexer/splitter has a filter built in so that any wi-fi signals are not sent back down the line.

Libraries and Wireless Internet Access

From what I can tell, many libraries in the US and even other Canadian cities have been implementing wireless Internet access for their patrons to use in the library. However, the Toronto area libraries (Toronto Public Library, Richmond Hill Public Library, Vaughan Public Library) seem to be moving slowly. From what I can tell, wireless Internet access is only available at a single VPL branch (The Pierre Berton branch in Woodbridge). I’m not sure why this is the case. Most branches offer public access computers that are connected to the Internet. Why not make it easier for students and other patrons that wish to use their own laptop while studying or doing research at the library.

High Power 200mw Senao USB Wi-Fi Adapter

From the interesting new products department …

Pasadena Wireless is offering Senao’s new high power (200 mw / 23 dbm) USB adapter. Specifications state that it supports Windows 98-XP, WEP and WPA encryption and 802.11b/g. The external antenna is changeable. I’ve had trouble in the past with the stability of drivers (particularly in Windows 98 machines) for Senao wi-fi adapters and hope things have improved since then.

The USB aspect is good because it allows moving the antenna slightly away from the computer and other electronics that may interfere with operation. Also, I prefer a USB approach over having a PCcard inside the laptop adding extra heat.