Saturday, May 15, 2010

Google admits wi-fi data collection blunder

15 May 2010 | Google admits wi-fi data collection blunder

By Maggie Shiels, Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

The Street View car takes photos for the service Google has admitted that for the past three years it has

wrongly collected information people have sent over unencrypted wi-fi networks.

The issue came to light after German authorities asked to audit the data the company's Street View cars gathered as they took photos viewed on Google maps.

Google said during a review it found it had "been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open networks".

The admission will increase concerns about potential privacy breaches.

These snippets could include parts of an email, text or photograph or even the website someone may be viewing.

In a blogpost Google said as soon as it became aware of the problem it grounded its Street View cars from collecting wi-fi information and segregated the data on its network.

It is now asking for a third party to review the software that caused the problem and examine precisely what data had been gathered.

"Maintaining people's trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short," wrote Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research.

"The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust - and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here."

'Pushing the envelope'

Google said the problem dated back to 2006 when "an engineer working on an experimental wi-fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast wi-fi data".

That code was included in the software the Street View cars used and "quite simply, it was a mistake", said Mr Eustace.

"This incident highlights just how publicly accessible, open, non-password protected wi-fi networks are today."

Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing for security firm Ioactive, said there was no intent by Google.

"This information was leaking out and they picked it up. If you are going to broadcast your email on an open wi-fi, don't be surprised if someone picks it up."

John Simpson, from the Consumer Watchdog, told the BBC: "The problem is [Google] have a bunch of engineers who push the envelope and gather as much information as they can and don't think about the ramifications of that."

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi

The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi:
The Road Toward Global Success
Cambridge University Press
  • Wolter Lemstra, Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands
  • Vic Hayes, Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands
  • John Groenewegen, Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands
Hardback | ISBN-13: 9780521199711
Not yet published - available from December 2010

Wi-Fi has become the preferred means for connecting to the internet “ at home, in the office, in hotels and at airports. Increasingly, Wi-Fi also provides internet access for remote communities where it is deployed by volunteers in community-based networks, by operators in 'hotspots' and by municipalities in 'hotzones'. This book traces the global success of Wi-Fi to the landmark change in radio spectrum policy by the FCC in 1985, the initiative by NCR Corporation to start development of Wireless-LANs and the drive for an open standard IEEE 802.11, released in 1997. It also singles out and explains the significance of the initiative by Steve Jobs at Apple to include Wireless-LAN in the iBook, which moved the product from the early adopters to the mass market. The book explains these developments through first-hand accounts by industry practitioners and concludes with reflections and implications for government policy and firm strategy.

Web revolution sweeps Whitehall

"This is the first time we have had a change of government in the internet age. When Labour came to power in 1997, government departments were just beginning to feel their way on the web".

Web revolution sweeps Whitehall | 14 May 2010 | Brian Wheeler, Political reporter, BBC News

Never mind the events in Downing Street. There is a revolution going on in cyberspace too.

DCLG website
Work is under way to update departmental websites

Government web activity was frozen during the general election campaign but now that the new coalition Lib Dem/Conservative government is taking shape it has exploded into frenetic life.

Mouse-wielding civil servants across Whitehall are engaged in a frantic rush to archive old pages full of defunct policies and pen portraits of now departed Labour ministers and to replace them with shiny new web pages that reflect the priorities and personalities of their new political masters.

Many of the main departmental sites are currently carrying this warning on their home page: "Content on this site is under review following the formation of a new government."

Others, such as the Department of Communities and Local Government, are stripped back to the bare essentials.

Brown pictures

The most dramatic change is at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which has been rebranded as the Department for Education.

Foreign Office website 1997
The Foreign Office website had few frills in 1997

Out goes the rainbow logo and touchy-feely graphics; in comes a sober blue colour scheme and a stern warning to the casual web browser: "All statutory guidance and legislation linked to from this site continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise, but may not reflect Government policy."

It only takes a few clicks to find old DCSF-branded material, although again there are ample warnings that the documents may not reflect government policy, and search engines still throw up the old web address.

The Downing Street site has undergone a few changes too.

The Number 10 channel names for Flickr, Twitter and YouTube have all changed to Number10gov.

There are pictures and videos of David Cameron and Nick Clegg everywhere on the Downing Street website. It is difficult to find any images of Gordon Brown and the site's search engine has also been temporarily disabled while old content is archived, to stop people searching for them.

But Mr Brown's biography has been added to the list of "prime ministers in history".

Historic moments

Mr Cameron's "Meet the PM" biography is a work in progress. It has a moody picture of the Conservative leader with wife Samantha but the biographical details are thin, with a statement from the new PM promised shortly.

It says: "Mr Cameron's family has always been the starting point of everything he has wanted to achieve in politics. He is proud of the values that were instilled in him when he was young."

Foreign Office website 2000
The Foreign Office site had moved by 2000 - it had a drop down menu!

Documents singing the praises of Labour's economic policy have been removed from the Treasury site, into the National Archives.

This is the first time we have had a change of government in the internet age. When Labour came to power in 1997, government departments were just beginning to feel their way on the web.

Just how much has changed can be seen from newly released archive pages charting the development of government websites during the 13 years of Labour rule.

Historic moments such as the May 1997 decision to hand control of interest rates to the Bank of England are captured on the Treasury website from that time.

Other historic government websites, including early versions of the Downing Street site, are avaiable to view on the National Archive website.

Downing Street website
The Downing Street site in 2000 - very web 1.0

David Thomas, Director of technology at the National Archives, said: "We are the only government archive in the world regularly capturing and preserving government websites.

"The ephemeral nature of websites means there's a risk that important information could be lost without a comprehensive web archiving programme."

Since 2003, the National Archive has been trawling 1,500 government websites three times a year to take screen shots for its archives, which can be viewed by the public on its website.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mobiles overtaking fixed-line calls - official

Mobiles overtaking fixed-line calls - official

Mobile phone usage has already overtaken fixed-line phones in the UK and five other countries - and the pace is accelerating, says a new report

Published on Nov 6, 2009

Mobile phone usage will overtake standard fixed phone lines as the dominant means of communication in Europe next year, according to a new report.

The new report - by management consultants Analysys - says that in five European companies (including the UK) more "voice minutes" are already made on mobile networks than on fixed and broadband networks combined.

“In many markets it looks as if fixed voice is going to suffer not the slow and lingering decline many have predicted, but a rather rapid one,” says report co-author, Dr Alastair Brydon.

He says that by next year the majority of all European calls will be made by mobile and that in Finland - birthplace of Nokia - that figure rises to a stunning 90%.

The report shows that mobile phone companies can dramatically accelerate the shift from fixed-line to mobile by adopting more flexible pricing plans. Germany consumers, for example, have traditionally been reluctant to move from fixed-line calls to mobile phones.

At the end of 2005 only 17.5% of calls were made on mobiles but following the introduction of cheaper domestic tariffs by the mobile operators that percentage shot up to over 24% by the end of 2006.

Mobile calls will overtake landline by 2009

Mobile calls will overtake landline by 2009, regulator predicts

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 29 August 2008

Calls from mobile phones are predicted to outnumber fixed line calls in the UK within two years, Ofcom has announced.

Households are now more likely to have a mobile service than a fixed line, with the UK's 70 million mobile phone subscriptions exceeding the population of 60 million, the regulator said.

Ofcom has published an initial consultation document looking at how the industry should be regulated, saying it will deregulate where competition is protecting consumers.

Some 85 per cent of the adult population in the UK now have a mobile, served by the most competitive mobile industry in Europe, Ofcom said.

The document says the UK telecommunications market has changed "immensely" since mobile services were first launched, with mobile calls "set to outnumber fixed calls in the UK within the next 12 to 18 months".

Some 85 per cent of the adult population in the UK now have a mobile, served by the most competitive mobile industry in Europe, Ofcom said.

But although more than 90 per cent of consumers were happy with their mobile service, 1.4 million were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

The regulator said: "Ofcom is concerned that complaints by consumers about mobile services appear to be rising. We are looking at how to ensure that rules to protect consumers are clear, effective and relevant, given the rapid changes in technology."

The consultation will also look at alternatives to the current regulation of mobile termination rates; the charges that operators make to connect calls to each other's networks. It will ask for ideas on extending the coverage of mobile networks across the UK.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Mobile communication is now a central feature of modern life. As our flourishing mobile sector evolves, we want to help maintain strong competition and innovation alongside consumer protection.

"With significant market and technology developments under way, now is the right time to ask some tough questions about the future approach to regulation. We look forward to a wide ranging debate on these issues."

Mobile broadband to overtake fixed-line internet connections in the UK in 2011 | Mobile broadband to overtake fixed-line internet connections in the UK in 2011

Published on 02 November 2009 by Nick Lane

Mobile to become primary access point to reach consumers

Mobile broadband connections will exceed fixed-line broadband connections in 2011, according to a new report Taking Internet Mobile: UK, to be released by research and analyst house mobileSQUARED on 5 November.

By 2011 the number of active 3G devices in the UK will be 36.3 million, as well as 6.4 million dongles/embedded devices, taking the total number of mobile broadband connections to 42.7 million versus expected broadband internet users of 42.5 million.

While the analyst house predicts internet usage over the mobile phone will remain below traditional fixed-line usage during the forecast period of 2009-2014, the company’s research has revealed that between 1-10% of a company’s internet traffic is already being generated from a mobile device.

“Mobile will become the primary access point for brands and businesses communicating with its consumers within two years,” said Nick Lane, chief analyst at mobileSQUARED, and author of the report. “Mobile is always-on, and the average user carries their device for an average of 16 hours a day. So if a company or brand is not already considering how to use mobile, then they need to because their customers are.”

However, not all of the 3G broadband connections in 2011 will be used for surfing by UK consumers. The report forecasts the number of mobile internet users in the UK will top 32 million by 2014 (equating to 90% of 3G broadband subscribers), but believes the 32 million figure could be reached faster with clearer data pricing from UK operators as well as the introduction of variable data pricing.

“Data pricing in the UK is still confusing,” adds Lane. “Mobile operators and high-street retailers produce monthly magazines dedicated to handsets and tariffs, how can that not be confusing to the consumer? The number of mobile internet users would expand even faster if mobile data pricing reflected existing models, such as variable pricing to appeal to the different demographics. The cash-poor, time-rich youth democratic cannot afford the flat-rata plans, so why not offer a data pricing concession to encourage adoption?”

During the forecast period 2009-2014, mobileSQUARED predicts mobile content and services revenues (including apps) in the UK will almost treble from revenues of £242.1 million in 2009. Similarly, the analyst house forecasts that revenue from the core internet-based mobile advertising models of banners and links, search and tenancy, will be worth £83.7 million in 2014.

The full report will be released at the Taking Internet Mobile Roadshow, being held at on Thursday 5 November at 76 Portland Place, London from 1.30pm. At the Roadshow, research company Lightspeed Research will be unveiling their research on the UK’s mobile Internet behaviour, and Trendstream will reveal how social behaviour on mobile will become one of the most powerful channels. All research is contained in the Taking Internet Mobile: UK report. (...)

More people buying Wi-Fi-enabled devices | May 4, 2010 | More people buying Wi-Fi-enabled devices

As more electronic devices become networked, consumers are flocking to gadgets with built-in wireless access, according to a report released Monday by In-Stat.

Worldwide shipments of TVs with Wi-Fi are expected to jump from less than 5 million last year to around 65 million in 2014. Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-ray players will also be up there, with more than 61 million units expected to ship in another four years.
Collectively, shipments of all stationary electronic devices with built-in Wi-Fi, such as TVs, Blu-ray players, gamee consoles, set-top boxes, and photo frames, are likely to surpass 200 million units in another four years.
Portable gadgets with Wi-Fi are also in hot demand and expected to get hotter. Among all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, mobile phones will enjoy the greatest volume over the next few years, with In-Stat projecting 515 million handsets shipping around the world by 2014.
Shipments of tablets with built-in Wi-Fi, such as the Apple iPad, are forecast to hit more than 46 million in another four years, while notebooks will surge ahead with 265 million units shipped. Portable game consoles, such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, could see shipments of more than 30 million in another four years.
Overall, shipments of all Wi-Fi-enabled appliances and devices could soar past 3.5 billion by 2014.
"Wi-Fi swept through the computing market, driven by the need to access and share broadband connectivity," Frank Dickson, In-Stat's Vice President of Research, said in a statement. "That same consumer desire is now resulting in Wi-Fi adoption across the entire range of connected consumer electronics, driving significant Wi-Fi volumes. The ubiquitous adoption of Wi-Fi in consumer electronics is Wi-Fi's manifest destiny."

EU needs more regulatory powers in telecoms

total telecom | EU needs more regulatory powers in telecoms - Monti report
By Pep Kiviniemi, Dow Jones Newswires
Monday 10 May 2010
Former commissioner presents internal report on telecoms to European Commission.

The European Union needs to have stronger regulatory powers over national telecommunications regulators to enable it to create an integrated European-wide market for electronic communications and speed the growth of Europe's digital economy, Mario Monti says in his internal market report to the European Commission Monday.

Monti's main premise is that in telecommunications, e-commerce, and online commerce, the EU falls short of its commercial promise due to complex national laws.

To overcome these issues the EU should have stronger regulatory powers over national regulators, Monti says. In addition the commission should think about introducing a pan-European licensing system, to replace the current model where national governments hand out telecoms licenses to operators. The allocation of radio frequencies, being freed up by the push to digital television, should also be controlled at European level, Monti says.

Click here to find out more!To meet these ends the commission should launch a review of the telecommunications sector with a view to presenting the proposals required for creating an integrated European-wide market for electronic communications.

In addition to facilitating cross border e-commerce, the fragmentation in consumer protection rules must come to an end and be replaced by common rules for delivery of goods, warranty and dispute resolution, Monti says.

To create a more predictable business environment--and especially to help smaller traders benefit from cross border sales--the commission should also try to simplify value added tax rules, as well as cross-border copyright levies.

Work is needed to move copyright rules in general from the current nationally fragmented market, Monti says. In particular, it is "urgent to simplify copyright clearance and management" by introducing pan-European content licensing.

Tasked with suggesting improvements to the working of the European Union's single market, by the commission, Monti is putting forward a raft of new legislative proposals the commission should take onboard.

Wi-Fi Google | Innovation: The Wi-Fi database that shamed Google | 30 April 2010

By now, most of us in the US, the UK and Australia, plus many elsewhere in Europe, have got used to the fact that images of almost every house on every street are available online for all to see via the Street View facility in Google Maps.

But last week many were shocked to learn that while the advertising giant's camera-equipped cars were zipping past our front doors, they were not just collecting panoramic photos. Wi-Fi antennas on the cars were hunting down wireless computer networks, and equipment inside was recording the networks' names, locations and the unique MAC address of the routers supporting them. (/ ...)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Press release
| May 2010

The Open Spectrum Alliance Celebrates 25 Years of Wi-Fi

The Open Spectrum Alliance promotes Open Spectrum reform to unlock the common public resource of the radio spectrum and unleash its potential social and economic benefits |

Celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the rules that enabled Wi-Fi

On May 24, 2010 it will be exactly 25 years since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulator of the radio spectrum for public use in the USA, released the decision to permit unlicensed access to the radio spectrum for communications, provided the devices use “Spread Spectrum”.

That regulatory decision paved the way for the IEEE 802.11 committee to start developing “Wi-Fi” – an interoperability standard for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) – which encouraged regulators in other countries to adopt similar rules. Canada and the European countries agreed first, then dozens more governments allowed license-free use of the radio spectrum by WLANs.

Prior to the FCC decision, spectrum was released only in response to carefully documented ‘requirements’. This process was much slower than the rate of innovation in the IT community”. said Michael Marcus, the person behind the FCC decision. “The way industry and end-users embraced this new approach to spectrum regulation and the creativity it unleashed, surpassed our wildest dreams”, said Vic Hayes, the co-establisher and 10 year leader of the IEEE 802.11 working group, nicknamed “Father of Wi-Fi”.

Today Wi-Fi is built into all lap-top computers and it is becoming a “must have” feature in smart phones and consumer electronics generally. Internet access through Wi-Fi is now common at home, in offices, in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, at airports, railway stations, on university campuses and even in airplanes and trains. Many communities use Wi-Fi for providing broadband internet access in areas where operators cannot or will not provide service. Wi-Fi is a major driver of ubiquitous connectivity. In 2008, the readers of Stuff magazine voted it the best technical innovation of the last decade.

Other license-exempt devices enabled by the FCC’s decision are Bluetooth and Zigbee. Bluetooth is a short range wireless standard to connect mobile phones to appliances such as headsets and computers, and Zigbee is a low power connectivity solution for wireless sensors, climate control systems, etc.

The Open Spectrum Alliance (OSA) promotes innovative public policies and the allocation of more unlicensed spectrum to realize the potential social and economic benefits of wireless media. Working with other stakeholders, particularly in Europe, we often cite Wi-Fi as an example of what license-free communications can deliver.

The Open Spectrum Alliance salutes all those who helped make Wi-Fi such an unprecedented and versatile success.


  • For further info on the Silver Jubilee of Wi-Fi - and current issues of Open Spectrum reform - contact Open Spectrum Alliance members Robert Horvitz at bob [at] (and see or Vic Hayes at v.hayes [at]

More on Wi-Fi

The Open Spectrum Alliance promotes Open Spectrum reform to unlock the common public resource of the radio spectrum and unleash its potential social and economic benefits |

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spectrum must be ‘urgent priority’ for new government | Spectrum must be ‘urgent priority’ for new government


Reviving the UK’s floundering spectrum modernisation programme must be an urgent priority for the new government if the country is to avoid being left behind in the race towards next-generation mobile services, according to research firm, Ovum.

A draft statutory instrument, designed to level the playing field and give operators clarity when bidding for new spectrum bands, was dropped in the rush to get legislation through the last session of parliament.

It failed to adequately consider the impact of the proposed joint venture between T-Mobile and Orange, and the divestiture of spectrum these operators offered to make in order to win regulatory clearance at EU level.

Ovum believes that in order to reduce the likelihood of legal challenge, the new government should reconsider the statutory instrument and consult again in the next parliament.

Matthew Howett, principal analyst at Ovum, said the UK risks falling behind other countries unless a solution to the ongoing spectrum re-farming dispute can be found quickly.

He said: “Ensuring adequate and timely access to spectrum will be one of the most critical issues facing the next government.

“The need to find a quick resolution to this dispute shouldn’t be underestimated. The next generation of mobile services, (most likely to be LTE), is widely expected to initially use spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands. As a result of this dispute, both of these are currently unavailable in the UK.

“The result is that operators will be forced to delay investments that could benefit consumers in terms of new services and applications. The delay will also prevent operators from realising important cost savings from greater network efficiency.

“Germany, where this spectrum auction is already underway, is set to be a benchmark for the rest of Europe. Many other countries are also moving forward with awarding this band and some definitive plans are already in place. The UK can’t risk being left behind.”

Digital Dividend - UK Lags On EU Demands For Open Spectrum | UK Lags On EU Demands For Open Spectrum

EU wants harmony, but the future of the UK's spectrum is still up in the air according to experts

The Commission has agreed on rules to free up of spectrum in the 800 Mhz band which should make it easier for European countries to coordinate their efforts and allow wireless broadband devices to operate across the region, according to a statement released this week..

Digital Divident waits for the election

“This Decision paves the way for implementation of innovative broadband technologies and for the fast growing demand for wireless services to be met,” said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.” I encourage Member States to take the necessary steps to implement the Decision, so that European businesses and citizens can take full advantage of the benefits of the switchover to digital TV.”

The commission said it strongly supports the use of the 790-862 MHz band, used for TV in most countries, for wireless broadband and wants EU countries to act quickly. “Coordinated management of this spectrum could give an economic boost of up to €44 billion to the EU’s economy and help to achieve the EU 2020 Strategy target of high-speed broadband for all by the end of 2013 (with speeds gradually increasing up to 30 Mbts and above in 2020),” the commission states.

But while Europe is calling for coordination on the spectrum, the UK is still wrestling with how to go about the process of allocating its free spectrum. The UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has long had plans to hold an auction for two chunks of radio spectrum, some around 2.6GHz which was originally planned for use by 3G mobile services, and some around 800MHz. However, these auctions and other moves have run aground on political indecision, according to speakers at a public discussion run by Westminster Media eForum in January.

The indecision has resulted in the proposed auction of spectrum licenses being put off until next year, by which time a Conservative government may have abolished Ofcom, the UK regulator backing the process.

The Conservative Party has said that it will scrap the broadband tax that the Labour government hoped to use to pay for increasing broadband speeds. The Conservatives also threatened to abolish Ofcom, which would throw the whole auction process into question.

The new EC decision states that member states which decide to make the 800 MHz band available for services other than broadcasting should apply the same technical rules. Cooperation on the roll-out of wireless broadband services should help cut costs and increase coverage, the EC believes.

“Telecoms industry experts estimate that infrastructure to provide mobile broadband coverage using the 800 MHz band will be around 70 percent cheaper than through using the radio frequencies currently used by 3rd generation mobile technology (UMTS),” the EC states. “The lower costs involved in rolling out such networks will make these investments more attractive for operators, which should improve the geographic coverage of wireless broadband services.”

But experts in the UK have questioned who the allocation of spectrum will really benefit in the long run. “Operators want to hoard spectrum, in order to lower their costs, not to improve services,” warned Maurice Patrick, a telecoms analyst at Barclays Capital earlier this year.

The EC has released a Q&A document on the issue which can be found here.

Where Did Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Come From?

Where Did Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Come From? Part 1

May 9th will be the 25th anniversary of the Report and Order in Docket 81-413 that created the regulatory basis for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a variety of other lesser known products. While many people think it is the origin of unlicensed systems, unlicensed has been allowed since the late 1930s but under restrictive rules that allowed a certain frequencies to be used for narrowly restricted applications in response to industry requests. What set the May 1985 decision apart was the lack of restrictions on use, interference focused technical regulations, and more generous transmitter power than previously allowed.

Your blogger would love to be able to document that in the early 1980s he foresaw the need for wireless LANs and thus planned the rules or this application. In the early 1980s LAN technology was known to techies, Bob Metcalfe was an MIT classmate. But there was no general consensus that LANs would ever be widespread or that RLANs were needed.

As has been said previously, technology moves at “Internet speed” and governments move at “government speed”. Thus it would have been impossible to directly anticipate such a need. Several years later the European Union did anticipate the RLAN need and tried to address it with its GSM-like consensus standards process. The result was HiperLAN which never had much impact.

Wi-Fi standards - Wi-Gig | Messy standards fight looms for wireless video

May 10, 2010 7:24am by Chris Nuttall

Twenty-five years after a US regulatory decision enabled the development of Wi-Fi, a contest is developing over a new 60GHz standard for a next-generation multi-gigabit version of the technology.

The Wi-Fi Alliance entered the fray on Monday with a cooperation agreement with the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance on specifications for the development of a Wi-Fi certification program in the 60 GHz frequency band. At the same time, the existing WirelessHD Consortium is announcing the availability of its 1.1 specification for 60GHz.

Both trail the WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface) consortium, which has already brought products to market that allow wireless beaming of high-definition content around the home at up to 3Gb/second.

Just to throw another consortium at you, the Open Spectrum Alliance, advocating the allocation of unlicensed spectrum for social and economic benefits, is celebrating the 25th anniversary on May 24 of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to allow unlicensed access to parts of the radio spectrum.

The opening up of 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz led to the creation of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 committee, which went on to create various flavours of Wi-Fi - including, a,b, g and the latest 802.11n.

Wi-Fi is now influencing 4G telecoms networks with the wider-area WiMAX technology and it seems another viable area of expansion for the Wi-Fi Alliance is to look at providing gigabit speeds for high-definition video in the home.

The FCC made that possible when it made available unlicensed spectrum from 57 to 64GHz around 10 years ago.

At 60GHz, much faster transmission speeds are possible, although the range can be much more limited - within a single room rather than the whole-house experience of 2.4 and 5GHz.

SiBeam, a Silicon Valley company, seized on 60GHz as a way of pumping high-definition video between consumer electronics devices in a room and built support with CE manufacturers when it formed the WirelessHD Consortium in 2006.

It claims to have the de facto standard for wireless hi-def with support from more than 45 companies. The 1.1 specification defines common 3D formats and has support for 4K - resolution four times that of 1080p. ( The WiGig Alliance also announced its own specification on Monday, claiming it was “the industry’s first comprehensive multi-gigabit wireless specification”)

WirelessHD certainly seized the initiative from UltraWideBand (UWB), a technology which has failed to catch on - a standard was slow to be agreed and performance, regulatory and interference issues arose.

But, a year ago, the WiGig Alliance was launched, focusing on 60GHz and appearing to take up where UWB left off. Its new agreement with the Wi-Fi Alliance seems to make sense, with both sharing members such as Broadcom, Intel and Atheros.

Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, told me there was no contact at present with the WirelessHD Consortium and, while the IEEE was looking at a 60GHz standard, it was trailing the work of the WiGig Alliance.

“So, how it all fits together remains to be seen, but we now have a leg-up in terms of having significant technology input [from the WiGig Alliance]. How will it all shake out? The protocols today are fairly different, but what remains to be seen is what gets broadly adopted.”

Nevertheless, it takes typically two years for a Wi-Fi certification programme to evolve, she added.

John Marshall, chairman of the WirelessHD consortium, says Panasonic, LG, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio have already announced products using its technology, which he says is more suited to transmitting video.

“Wi-Fi is about a bunch of devices on a network and it means there are multiple nodes and contention issues for who gets access. With WirelessHD, there’s no such thing - you have a dedicated link for watching entertainment and it’s point-to-point.”

Meanwhile, SiBeam appears to be hedging its bets. In another announcement on a manic Monday for wireless HD, it said it would release a dual-mode WirelessHD/WiGig reference design kit in June.

WHDI’s technology operates in the 5GHz band and can cover a whole house while offering gigabit speeds. It has 25 companies in its consortium, including LG, Sony, Hitachi, Sharp, Mitsubishi and JVC, with the WHDI logo due to show up on products later this year.

“We are multi-room and support mobile devices and that sets us apart,” says Joe Kilmer, WHDI spokesman . He quotes a recent analyst report as giving WHDI 68 per cent of the total addressable market.

Personally, while these new technologies sound exciting,as does any future without wires, I will be sticking to HDMI and ethernet cables for the foreseeable future wherever possible. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi both have frustrating connectivity issues in practice even now, while these new technologies need to sort out standards,stability and interoperability before they can become an automatic choice for consumers.

IEEE 802.11 30th Anniversary | 6 May 2010 | 6 May 2010
IEEE 802 Committee Celebrates 30th Anniversary


Your computer, your smart phone, your e-book reader, your gaming system, and maybe your car are just a few of the things containing interfaces compliant with the suite of network interoperability standards developed by the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC). The committee, which brought forth standards for the Ethernet (802.3), Wi-Fi (802.11), and Bluetooth (802.15), is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It was formed in March 1980 to develop interoperable network standards for computers and office equipment in local and metropolitan networks, or LAN/MAN for short.

“From the local coffee shop to the International Space Station, the standards produced by the IEEE 802 committee dramatically influence our everyday lives,” says IEEE Fellow Paul Nikolich, the present chair of the committee. “Many things we fundamentally rely on—e-mail, for example—would not be as broadly available or as dependable without IEEE 802 networking standards.

“IEEE 802 continues to push the boundaries of innovation three decades after its inception. The high quality and broad application of 802 standards is a testament to committee members’ dedication, creativity, and vision.”

IEEE 802 began with the novel idea of creating a standard for local communications among devices manufactured by multiple vendors. The committee’s formation was inspired by the creation of separate standards for High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC) protocols and Xerox’s Ethernet product. Ethernet was based on the idea of computers communicating over a shared coaxial cable as a broadcast transmission medium, according to Robert M. Metcalfe, who invented Ethernet in 1973 at the company’s Palo Alto Research Center in California. Metcalfe recounted the history of Ethernet and the birth of the 802 committee in a 15 March Harvard Business Review blog entry, titled “The Day Dot-Coms Were Invented.” IEEE recognized him for his work with its 1988 Alexander Graham Bell Award and again in 1996 with its highest award, the IEEE Medal of Honor.

The first Ethernet products were built to have data rates about 10 000 times faster than the modems used over telephone lines of the time. Ethernet relies on data packets, the basic units of Internet communications. It was designed to network what later became known as personal computers.

According to Metcalfe, Xerox partnered with several groups in 1979 to develop Ethernet standards, including Digital Equipment, Intel, and his start-up, 3Com. The companies formed the so-called DIX (Digital, Intel, and Xerox) consortium, which developed a specification that ultimately became one of the technologies proposed for the IEEE 802 LMSC standardization project.

“Many institutions are needed to spur technological innovation, and the IEEE 802 [committee] has to be one of the most effective [examples] of this in recorded history,” Metcalfe wrote on Facebook. “The work of open standardization is technically challenging and sometimes politically ugly, so we owe a special thanks to the people who do it well. Thank you to the people of IEEE 802 for being sure the Internet had the plumbing it needed each step of the way.”

Today the IEEE 802 portfolio of standards has more than 100, including ones for mobile broadband-access and mesh networks. Contributing to the standards’ widespread use is the Get IEEE 802 program, introduced in 2001. Established by the IEEE Standards Association and funded by the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Committee, the program lets anyone with a computer and Internet service download IEEE 802 standards at no charge six months after they’re published.

It’s estimated that more than 98 percent of all Internet traffic crosses one or more IEEE 802 networks during its transmission, says Senior Member Patricia Thaler, vice chair of the IEEE 802 committee.

“The IEEE 802 standards project continues to serve as a vital incubator for cutting-edge networking technologies and innovations, whether enabling remote medical diagnostics, the universal smart grid, or tomorrow’s best-selling virtual reality game,” says Member Mark Klerer, chair of the IEEE Std. 802.20 for Mobile Broadband Multiple Access.

“IEEE 802 will continue to push the boundaries of communications by its work on high-performance networks, reaching upward toward terabit speeds, advanced network architectures including ad-hoc and mesh networks, visible-light communication, and beyond,” he says.

For more information about the anniversary, visit the IEEE 802 Standards Development Group 30th Anniversary Facebook page where visitors are encouraged to read about and contribute anniversary news, information, and historical trivia.

Wi-Fi: WiGig: 60GHz band | New Frequency Set to Turbocharge Wi-Fi

Wired News - Priya Ganapati - 10 May 2010
Wi-Fi is about to lay claim to a new frequency band that could result in speeds at least 10 times faster than what's currently available. ...

Wi-Fi is about to lay claim to a new frequency band that could result in speeds at least 10 times faster than what’s currently available.

An agreement between the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance will let the Wi-Fi Alliance carve out specs and standards to support Wi-Fi operation in the 60-GHz frequency band in a bid to make Wi-Fi faster. By contrast, Wi-Fi today operates in the 2.4-GHz and 5- GHz bands.

“Today’s Wi-Fi speeds are measured in the low hundreds of megabits per second,” says Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance.”The 60-GHz band allows for significant boost in performance, so we are talking about speeds in the gigabits per second range.”

Specifically, the move to 60 GHz could allow for speeds in the range of 1 gigabits per second to 6 gbps, in contrast to today’s theoretical maximum of 150 Mbps for 802.11n.

“Wi-Fi in 60 GHz band could mean some compelling apps, such as those connecting your Blu-ray player to your TV or sharing uncompressed video in real time without any degradation,” says Figueroa.

With the proliferation of multimedia such as photos, home video and HD movies, consumers are looking for faster ways to transfer data that can also cut through the cable clutter. Users who are hooked on Lost through Hulu or can’t resist watching Lady Antebellum videos on YouTube currently have to hook up their computers to a TV through an HDMI cable.

Wi-Fi in the 60-GHz band could be the first step toward helping consumers go truly wireless, says Xavier Ortiz, an analyst at ABI Research. The drawback is that the higher frequency waves have much shorter range and won’t go through walls well.

“The 60 GHz is like a beam of light — you have to have line of sight — but you can get multi-gigabit point-to point networking speeds with it,” he says.

The agreement between the Wi-Fi alliance and the Wi-Gig standard also helps two different standards to come together. Earlier, the Wi-Gig alliance, which has been advocating the 60-GHz band, had to work independently to get chip makers and gadgets manufacturers to get on board with its technology.

“Now we are going to rally the industry around a compelling subset of features and go through a process of testing compatibility and interoperability,” says Figueroa.

Figueroa estimates routers and other gadgets that have dual-band or tri-band capability, that is the ability to switch between 2.4 Ghz or 5 GHz and the 60-GHz band, will be available in about two years.

iPad&WiFi&3G | O2 announces UK price plans for iPad WiFi and 3G

Following the announcement of UK iPad pricing on Friday, O2 has now released details of its dedicated data tariffs for the iPad with WiFi + 3G.

All iPad data tariffs will be available without a long contract and include free unlimited access to BT Openzone and The Cloud Wi-Fi hotspots. The cheapest option is 500MB Pay & Go which costs £2 per day. However, if you know you'll need more than the occasional day of 3G access, you're better off opting for the 1GB plan which costs £10 per month, or the 3GB plan for £15 per month. None of these amounts roll over, so if you don't use your allowance, it disappears. Apple and O2 have devised a way to easily activate, manage and monitor your account on your iPad. This means you'll be notified as you approach your data limit with a direct link to iPad settings to check data usage, top up your account and upgrade or cancel your tariff. "We are truly excited to provide service for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G," said Sally Cowdry, O2's Marketing Director. "We've worked closely with Apple to make sure customers get an excellent experience when using their iPad Wi-Fi + 3G on O2. Not only will it be quick and easy to buy value for money data access from the device, but customers will also benefit from our overall, award-winning service wrap which includes great network and great customer service and the added benefit of access to thousands of public Wi-Fi hotspots." O2 micro sim packs for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available through O2 retail stores and O2's website.

Wi-Fi celebrates silver jubilee | Wi-Fi celebrates silver jubilee

Wi-Fi marks 25 years this month since the FCC decision of 1985 that allowed using spread-spectrum technologies in unlicensed spectrum and sparked a huge dose of innovation in the process. Today if you offer even million dollars for a laptop without Wi-Fi, you will not get it. It has become embedded in the DNA of all portable computers. As a result we can bypass phone networks and make free calls using Skype, Googletalk etc. Only dumb authorities don’t provide Wi-Fi in the airports. Wi-Fi is also increasingly getting implanted in mobile phones. Further bypassing of networks will proliferate. Innovation disrupts anything orthodox. Telecom TV reports.

Twenty-Five Years of Wi-Fi | 10 May 2010 | Twenty-Five Years of Wi-Fi

­On May 24, 2010 it will be exactly 25 years since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulator of the radio spectrum for public use in the USA, released the decision to permit unlicensed access to the radio spectrum for communications, provided the devices use "Spread Spectrum".

That paved the way for the IEEE 802.11 committee to start developing "Wi-Fi" - an interoperability standard for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) - which encouraged regulators in other countries to adopt similar rules. Canada and the European countries agreed first, then dozens more governments allowed license-free use of the radio spectrum by WLANs.

"Prior to the FCC decision, spectrum was released only in response to carefully documented 'requirements'. This process was much slower than the rate of innovation in the IT community". said Michael Marcus, the person behind the FCC decision. "The way industry and end-users embraced this new approach to spectrum regulation and the creativity it unleashed, surpassed our wildest dreams", said Vic Hayes, the co-establisher and 10 year leader of the IEEE 802.11 working group, nicknamed "Father of Wi-Fi".

Today Wi-Fi is built into all lap-top computers and it is becoming a "must have" feature in smart phones and consumer electronics generally. Internet access through Wi-Fi is now common at home, in offices, in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, at airports, railway stations, on university campuses and even in airplanes and trains. Many communities use Wi-Fi for providing broadband internet access in areas where operators cannot or will not provide service. Wi-Fi is a major driver of ubiquitous connectivity. In 2008, the readers of Stuff magazine voted it the best technical innovation of the last decade.

Other license-exempt devices enabled by the FCC's decision are Bluetooth and Zigbee. Bluetooth is a short range wireless standard to connect mobile phones to appliances such as headsets and computers, and Zigbee is a low power connectivity solution for wireless sensors, climate control systems, etc.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Wi-Fi: 25 Years

[As I spent a large part of the years 1999-2008 engaged in wireless & Net politics, here's a quick assemblage of links, notes & videos for further reflection. Whilst the technology and regulatory "how" is fascinating, my interest has been in pushing the social "why". | John Wilson, May 2010]

[1] 25 years of Wi-Fi: Empowering the user

May 2010 marks the 25 th anniversary of the American communications regulator the FCC's ruling to allow no-licence access to the radio spectrum for spread-spectrum radio devices for civil and commercial use.

Far from a notable public event at the time, this new regulatory arrangement opened the door for a succession of wireless technology innovations of global impact in subsequent decades: from mobile telecoms (CDMA & 3G cellular systems), to Wi-Fi wireless Internet access (enabling WLANs wireless local area networks) and Bluetooth short range connectivity between wireless devices (creating PANs personal area networks).

Wi-Fi has helped re-shape our communications landscape ecology, and in particular to empower the end-user. The fact that it blends into the background of our everyday lives, is the sign of its success.

[2] Links

Some links to highlight the origins of Wi-Fi, regulatory issues, and current agendas (2010)

[3] The origins of Wi-Fi: Beyond technologism

Regulation, technology and market development

Beyond the prevalent technologistic view in which new technologies are seen to emerge as the inevitable result of pure and rational scientific discovery to simply sweep society before them, there lies a largely invisible human history which is characterised more as a contested process of technology, regulatory, commercial, political and social options and conflicts. And far from being of second order importance, government regulation performs a structural role to enable the emergence of new technologies.

Like the Internet itself the pre-history of Wi-Fi technology and its regulatory enabler lies in the invisible universe of military technologies, first and foremost, alongside the academic research community and government regulatory agencies. There could be no guaranteed path for technology or policy success in such a complex world of interlocking, and often mutually hostile, institutions and actors.

The history of the regulatory opening of the Pandoras Box of unlicensed access to the radio spectrum through spread-spectrum radio technologies, which opened the way for Wi-Fi some fifteen years later, was framed by the 2008 conference The Genesis Of Unlicensed Wireless Policy: How Spread Spectrum Devices Won Access to License-Exempt Bandwidth ( George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, Virginia, USA). The conference brought together key actors in the invisible technology and regulatory drama of spread spectrum digital radio and unlicensed spectrum access. Two contributions are of especial note: the presentation by Michael Marcus (see also Marcus, Early Civil Spread Spectrum History), who drove the FCC rule making to establish licence-exempt access for spread spectrum radio devices (and see 2006 video: Michael Marcus, Spectrum Issues: "classical spectrum management policy is a balance between the haves and have nots") ; and the presentation by Vic Hayes - dubbed "the father of Wi-Fi", who was a co-founder and 10 years Chair of the IEEE 802.11 working group which steered the technical standards for wireless networking that have been branded as Wi-Fi.

[4] The Wi-Fi wireless revolution: The benefits of unlicensed spectrum access

From the year 2000 the availability of mass market Wi-Fi wireless devices - based on the new IEEE 802.11b global technical standard for wireless networking - unleashed the wireless Internet revolution that has brought us ever closer to the ideals of ubiquitous communications and end-user empowerment. The everyday utility of Wi-Fi is highlighted by its being voted the best technological innovation of the decade in one poll in 2008.

The wireless communications revolution has been unprecedented in its rapid evolution as a mass communications medium. The success of technology and market developments in both mobile cellular and Wi-Fi wireless Internet wireless communications has highlighted the efficacy of both licensed and unlicensed approaches to spectrum access, leading to consensus for a mixed approach to spectrum management policy.

Whilst the success of the spectrum licensing and auctions approach has been proven for the initial phase of mobile cellular communications (- although the year 2000 3G auctions scenario proved problematic -) which opened up a whole new commercial market space over the period ca. 1995 - 2000, there has been a complementary emphasis upon the public interest value of the unlicensed approach to Wi-Fi wireless Internet access to engage the digital divide agenda in "remote and rural areas" (where network economics can invariably lead to conditions of "market failure") and developing countries.

In today's world of digital convergence moreover we arrive at the smart phone, bringing together into a single device both Wi-Fi and mobile cellular (see X and X; and X). And indeed Wi-Fi is set to colonize the whole field of consumer electronics, as the world of must-have gadgets now comes with built-in wireless access.

Mobile - With rapid and spectacular success mobile cellular has become an everyday utility, overtaking fixed line telephony use in mature markets (see for eg the USA). Mobile cellular has been the sole preserve of the big industry players, as spectrum licenses are auctioned to the highest bidder.

Wi-Fi - By contrast the low barrier to entry through no-licence spectrum access of Wi-Fi wireless Internet access has led to forms of innovation beyond the traditional telecoms company and its mobileco variant, contributing to the revolution at the edge of the network that empowers the end-user, new business opportunities and local communities.

Digital Divide - In developing countries and emerging markets, new wireless Internet access technologies - both licensed and unlicensed - have the potential for use as a leap-frog technology by-passing the need for traditional fixed line telephony. A 2004 OECD report affirmed the rapid spread of commercial-off-the-shelf Wi-Fi technology and urged spectrum reform to enable licence-exempt access in order to address the digital divide in developing countries: "The rapid adoption of Wi-Fi has pushed prices down and allowed entrepreneurs in developing economies to use off-the-shelf equipment to quickly roll out wireless networks. These new wireless networks usually operate in license-exempt spectrum bands. Policy makers can help spur innovation in these wireless networks by making certain frequency bands license-exempt..." ( Regulatory Reform as a Tool for Bridging the Digital Divide ). See also for example Building Digital Bridges with Emerging Technologies (ITU, 2004), especially the introduction and conclusion; and Isabel Neto, Bjorn Wellenius, Managing the radio spectrum: Framework for reform in developing countries (Policy Research Working Paper4549 | The World Bank, Global Information and Communication Technologies Department, Policy Division | March 2008) (See full view in Google Books here; download free pdf from

Spectrum policy reform: Unlicensed access

By 2004 the international trend in spectrum reform was clear, that the unlicensed approach to spectrum management policy was an efficient driver of technological innovation and market developments beyond the traditional, default policy tool of licensing.

"More and more policy-makers are questioning the utility of licensing and demanding that licences be adapted to achieve policy goals without hindering market development and technological advancement", stated a 2004 report by the International Telecommunication Union, " The allocation of spectrum for licence-exempt use is increasingly viewed as a catalyst for the development of more efficient and cost effective wireless technologies. By late 2004, 55 countries had allocated spectrum for unlicensed use..." (Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2004-5: Licensing in an Era of Convergence, ITU, 2004).

Hence some 20 years after the innovative 1985 FCC ruling to enable unlicensed access to the radio spectrum for spread-spectrum wireless devices for communications use, the rapid global success of Wi-Fi over the period 2000-04 had led to international consensus on the efficacy of the unlicensed spectrum approach. Hence the passage of the unlicensed spectrum access approach "from pariah to paradigm" (see Carter, Unlicensed to Kill, 2009), to become a normative spectrum management policy tool promoting technological innovation, market developments, and social and economic benefits.

[5] A reflection on Wi-Fi

[ The following reflections are by way of personal shorthand for engagement with the wireless & digital divide agendas. Also in [6] below I have managed to archive some Open Spectrum videos - mostly from events that I have organised - showcasing presentations by leading technologists and Open Spectrum advocates. Thanks to the generosity of James, San & dicktonyboy for making the videos possible! ]

Ubiquitous communications, the digital divide, and the end-user

Wi-Fi has helped re-shape our communications landscape ecology, and in particular to empower the end-user. The fact that it blends into the background of our everyday lives, is the sign of its success.


Wi-Fi has made a major contribution to making ubiquitous communications a reality:
  • In 1985 the FCC ruling allowed no-licence access to the radio spectrum for spread-spectrum radio devices for civil and commercial use in the so-called ISM bands ( - 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands) previously earmarked for Industrial, Scientific and Medical use and with no guarantees against interference. Following the formation of industry body the Wi-Fi Alliance (WECA) in 1999, the new "Wi-Fi" wireless Internet access technology (in the first instance, through the IEEE 802.11b standard which appeared on the market in early 2000) experienced phenomenal growth as a mass communications medium once regulatory clearance and global standards allowed end-user devices to be taken to market.
  • In the process the myths of spectrum intereference and of the "tragedy of the commons" were belied by mass adoption, and the fact that the technology was fitter for purpose than anyone had really anticipated.
  • Nowadays Wi-Fi capability is simply assumed as a given for any personal lap-top computer (and now the smart phone); as Wi-Fi is embedded in any new lap-top at effectively zero cost to the end user.


Beyond its initial intention as a means of short-range communications within buildings, Wi-Fi has even helped re-shape our wider social spaces. Wi-Fi was helped to empower whole communities that found themselves on the wrong side of the "digital divide":
  • Wi-Fi was promoted as a community "first mile" (as opposed to what the telco's call the "last mile" of the network) broadband solution in "remote and rural areas", where there was market failure and the telcos claimed that broadband Internet provision was uneconomic.
  • Wireless ISP's and community wireless networks thrived in rural regions that were written-off by the telcos.
  • And the same pattern of telco neglect saw the emergence of municipally supported wireless Internet networks.


Wi-Fi has helped to drive the revolution at the edge of the network, that serves the needs and unleashes the potential of the user:
  • Above all Wi-Fi has helped to empower the end-user through access to the Internet and it's new tools for personal communications, creative expression, productivity & wealth creation.
  • This communications revolution is displacing the traditional telco-centric model of artificial scarcity and pay-per-use,
  • towards a new communications ecology of abundance in which the Internet is evolving towards a free and open access medium, through which new commercial value-added services are accessed.

[6] Video showcase

Open Spectrum & community wireless networks

The following Open Spectrum videos showcase a number of presentations by leading technologists and Open Spectrum advocates, exploring issues of wireless technology, regulation and history, and the prospects of an open future for spectrum.

May 2006 | Michael Marcus | Spectrum Issues

Michael Marcus, former Chief Technologist at the FCC, presentation to The Wireless Event (Olympia, London).

"Some basic laws of spectrum economics, based on my twenty years of experience at the FCC. | Thus classical spectrum management policy is a balance between the haves and have nots. The haves generally control the national regulatory agencies, the Ofcoms of the world. And the have nots don't. And what you see are battles between the haves and have nots. And nobody seems to care about GDP. | (...) Nobody needs spectrum. It's a lie to say "I need spectrum". People need communications capacity, which is a function of both spectrum and technology"

May 2006 | Peter Cochrane | Seamless Freedom: The Wireless Revolution

Former BT Chief Technologist Peter Cochrane's keynote presentation to The Wireless Event (Olympia, London).

"The need for regulation goes from 100% regulated and controlled - otherwise you are going to run into all kinds of interference problems- to an era where 'heh! has the regulator got a job any more?' "

Jan 2004 | Dewayne Hendricks | Towards Open Spectrum: Locating Wireless Technology, Regulation and History

Leading US open spectrum advocate Dewayne Hendricks' keynote presentation to the ABC2 Conference Revolution at the Edge: Broadband Networks and Innovation (Cisco, EMEA Headquarters, Middlesex, England).

"We are undergoing a paradigm shift from the property regimen to the new commons world and beyond (...) in which we may turn the regulatory authority over to the device itself"

May 2002 | Connecting Keokuk | Wireless Broadband Case Study

A video case study of a succesful wireless ISP in rural Iowa, USA. Interlink LC's community approach to broadband Internet provision highlights the use of licence-exempt 802.11 wireless technology as a first mile broadband solution for remote and rural areas.

"If you aint got broadband, then you're just outta luck" (The architect).

March 2001 | Dave Hughes | A wireless vision for Wales

A video documenting John Wilson's March 2001 visit to American grassroots telecoms activist and no-licence wireless pioneer Dave Hughes, Colorado, USA.

Dave Hughes' wireless vision for Wales has a universal currency in its advocacy of no-licence wireless technologies as a "first mile" broadband solution for remote and rural regions, with reference to the community wireless networks model.


The March 2001 video of Dave Hughes' advocacy of no-licence wireless as a first mile broadband solution for community wireless networks in remote and rural areas predates the Wi-Fi explosion:
  • The March 2001 video of Dave Hughes' advocacy of no-licence wireless - and the related video Connecting Keokuk - was used as a lobbying tool to influence government and regulatory policy in the UK: arguing from the regulatory precedent of the USA for the opening up to no-licence (- or "license exempt", in UK discourse) access of the 2.4 GHz band, and subsequently the 5.8 GHz band (- eventually resolved as "light-licensing" in UK discourse) which was designated in explicit public interest terms in the USA as the UNII band - the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure band (: see here and here). These two videos were also used to promote grassroots community wireless networking in Wales and across the UK.
  • Dave Hughes was also involved in locating the Connecting Keokuk case study, as a means of engaging the wireless policy debate with a successful demonstration project for a community wireless network (which in the case of Interlink's Keokuk network was based upon a public and private partnerships approach to solve the local and regional broadband deficit)
  • The March 2001 video of Dave Hughes' advocacy of no-licence wireless was noted in Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution (2002), which has a full chapter covering the wireless activism of Dave Hughes (and Dewayne Hendricks): seeChapter 6, Wireless Quilts, Tonga, Mongolia, the Rez and Wales: The New Electronic Frontiers, pp 144-152 (read chapter overview here). See the Smart Mobs website for ongoing discussion.