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By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-11-22 Print this article Print

: The problem with 802.11a"> But the problem with switching to 802.11a is that it merely postpones the evil hour. Eventually, the supply of idiots will exceed the ability of the ether to absorb them. I couldnt suppress a shudder at the news that LG Electronics has released a wireless TV screen. It uses 2.4GHz Wi-Fi technology. Frankly, I have no idea what they think will happen when an urban neighborhood that already has a dozen WLAN users is infested by some "more money than sense" sociopath who buys one of these and starts trying to stream video at maximum speed. I know what I think: street feuds. So the social engineering question is, "How do you solve it?" Go around to your neighbor and say, "Hello! My name is Guy, and Im curious about what channel your wireless LAN is using!"?
Well, its a thought, but a cynical voice inside my head says, "They wont know what Im talking about and, if they do, theyre going to regard me as a government spy."
The only solution I can see, if we ignore expensive technology like steerable antennas, is to start installing mesh networks. The disadvantage of the mesh network is simple: People have to buy new equipment. But once the mesh boxes are installed, all sorts of good things arise. Click here to read about how mesh networking is being used for homeland security in the U.S. First: You extend your home LAN to the district. A cheap wireless mesh box such as the LocustWorld design allows the creation of a single, secure wireless network. It shares all the broadband links of all the people who connect to it, and takes data from one end to the other without any configuration required. Its automatic. That means that not only are you able to securely surf your own network and connect to your own server and your own printer from the TV room, you can also do it from the bar down the block or from the mini Kwik-e-Mart around the corner, or even the library. Im amazed to discover how these meshes are spreading. It was predicted that they would be set up in rural areas only, where "proper" broadband was unavailable. From that, most pundits went on to say, "Of course, as the normal broadband services expand, the meshes will be replaced." In fact, the opposite has happened. With the arrival of ADSL and cable modem services into rural mesh districts, theyve expanded their bandwidth on the backhaul, and people have installed more, not fewer, nodes. And the mesh manages channel congestion, too. Click here to read about a New Mexico citys plans to launch community Wi-Fi access. Wish me luck. Im about to paper the neighborhood with my e-mail address, suggesting a community meeting where we discuss the creation of Digby Radio for my local street. I suspect some doubts, of course, some resistance and some indifference. Mostly, indifference and incomprehension. But I only need a half-dozen people in the half-mile street, and Ill be able to write my columns in the local pub over a glass of ale. That cant be bad ... Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing. Read Guy Kewneys other recent columns about trends in mobile and wireless technology.


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