Monday, September 03, 2007

Free WiFi in Portland! or not....

I've meant to post about this for some time. Free wifi is supposed to be pwning portland. Problem is, this technology was never meant to 'blanket' an area. The
802.11a/b/g specificaion was very specifically built for small scale deployments. Wimax was the sister technology, better suited to wide scale deployment. Attempting to use 802.11 a/b/g for anything else is not wise, and the flawed efforts to blanket this town and others with 'free' technology is going to prove a failure. I remember thinking to myself 'who are they kidding, somebody will eventually do a story and break this open and talk about how stupid of an idea this is'. Eventually, some sane IT person will point out the specifications purpose and its lack of ability to do the magic the politicians envision. Why, so late in the specifications lifecycle, would one even try this? To me, its totally irrational behavior. When an architect builds a specification, it is designed for a specific purpose. Deviate from the intended purpose, and you are walking in dangerous grounds. We necessarily restrict our usage model to increase reliability, simplicity, security, cost, etc. Sometimes specifications and architectures can be extended in some rational capacity, layering another one or two generations on top of it. However, you don't drive the 3 member family across the country for Christmas in a scooter and this is exactly what is being proposed and will fail miserably attempting to use 802.11 a/b/g wireless across an entire city. I recommend using the public resources in a reasonable fashion and including some pragmatic, rational engineers with significant RF credentials the next time. Maybe it won't be such a screw up.

My understanding is up to this point no taxpayer money has been spent on the project. My voice will become louder if this changes.

1 comment:

lisamoon said...

hey there adam, you up for a beer sometime in the near-ish future? what's going on for you, these days? i'm at a charter school with 1st graders and had a smashingly joyfull first three days. i hope you are well. be in touch, lisa