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Feb 15

The Google WiFi Saga / Creative Commons Spectrum

You remember the whole Google wi-fi ruckus and saga right? They were going to start in Mountain View and try it out, then they bid to do it in San Francisco and then the world was up in arms that they would take over the world with their black fiber powered wi-fi networks and we would all be tracked by our mac addresses and never ever ever to sleep safe in our beds because google will finally know everything and everyone and have adverts coming out of our collective web kazoo's.

Relax. They learned the same as the others who tried muni wi-fi. Its hard. Much harder than you would think. Technologically, fiscally and operationally. Back here in Portland, OR the metro roll out of free wi-fi has been massively underwhelming. It is easier for me to surf on my 33.8k GPRS connection than it is trying to use the wi-fi in Portland metro land. Really i haven't been able to connect once. Coffee shops - no problems, way better.

But like the good scientists Google collectively are, they aren't giving up. Chris Sacca the brains behind the operation and a good friend of OReilly is coming to Etel 07 to talk about their experiences. In fact he even appears to be encouraging partisan participation in the effort.

Unlicensed Spectrum Tales From The Lamppost:

The story of why Google opted to cover Mountain View with free WiFi, what were the obstacles they needed to overcome, what the result has been, and how you too could become an ISP.

This will be great sharing of knowledge and findings that shouldn't be missed.

His use of the words "unlicensed spectrum" has made me think. The NTIA has a great diagram of the spectrum allocation in the US. From what we can see and discover via federal websites most of it is licensed and reserved. More accurately the usable and useful bands are licensed and reserved.

If there was a useful spectrum band that could be made available on a Creative Commons or MIT license, would this be useful to the public? Or more contentiously is it better that it is regulated so that the band remains useable and useful to someone at least? Physics makes some frequencies and power ratings hazadrous for humans. We already have some useful bands allocated, 900mhz and 2.4 gig have been great steps forward, but what next?. Control and free reign will both have their merits and detraction's. There is undoubtedly an elastic coupling here between the need for control (and safety) and the freedom that innovation requires to flourish. I'd love to hear people's thoughts and musings on this.

Chris Sacca will be speaking at Etel 07 this year.

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David   [02.15.07 07:56 PM]

The unlicensed spectrum is already in use: by amateur radio.

Amateur radio is not just a hobby; it is part of the disaster response network, and works closely with the Red Cross, the National Weather Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Every time unlicensed spectrum is allocated, the amateur radio operators lose. See the Amateur Radio Relay League's web site for more:

Wisdom of Cowards   [02.16.07 03:13 PM]

"If there was a useful spectrum band that could be made available on a Creative Commons or MIT license"

What the heck does that mean? CC and MIT licenses are COPYRIGHT licenses.

surj   [02.19.07 09:50 AM]

Your quite right my words failed me. I was trying to get across a license that was in spirit like the MIT and CC licenses. I.e "do what you will with the spectrum but at the end of the day the spectrum belongs to me and should be credited thus." My main aim was to say "what if we had an allocation of spectrum as a playground". The previous comment on radio amatuers was a good indicator.

Tony H   [02.21.07 04:55 AM]

The problem with deploying WiFi on a wide scale is that it wasn't designed for this application even if it's really cheap. A mesh network appoach will work but so far all the products are telecomms business model (expensive) rather than consumner business model. So google may need to take a Zune or Xbox approach is they want this to work, but hey they have the pockets. As for bandwidth just watch what Ofcom is trying to do to wireless microphnes in the UKm - pretty much instant death to the Uk's theatre and live music industry if they have their greedy way.

Jim   [03.14.07 05:53 PM]

I find it interesting how setting a wifi connection may bring potential harm to users due to its' frequency. Weird how someone has the potential to kill another using wifi connections.

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