Tag Archives: Wi-Fi

Share Your Network–Join New Open Wireless Movement

New Project Promotes Shared Open Wi-Fi with Tips and How-Tos

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of nine other groups launched the Open Wireless Movement today–a new project to promote a landscape of shared, wireless Internet.

The Open Wireless Movement site at openwireless.org gives users of all kinds technological and legal information around opening up a wireless network, including how-to guides and responses to common myths. The site includes specialized information for households, small businesses, developers, and Internet Service Providers. The Open Wireless Movement coalition is also working to develop router technology making it easier for people to open their networks without losing quality of Internet access or compromising security.

“We envision a world where sharing one’s Internet connection is the norm,” said EFF Activist Adi Kamdar. “A world of open wireless would encourage privacy, promote innovation, and largely benefit the public good. And everyone–users, businesses, developers, and Internet service providers–can get involved.”

The Open Wireless Coalition consists of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Internet Archive, NYCwireless, the Open Garden Foundation, OpenITP, the Open Spectrum Alliance, the Open Technology Institute, and the Personal Telco Project.

NY Cable Firms Provide Limited Park Wi-Fi as Part of Franchise Renewal?

Our friends at Wi-Fi Net News are reporting (via NY Daily News) that the New York City Government (Bloomberg et. al.) and DoITT (the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications) have completed a behind closed doors negotiation with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to give away our free Wi-Fi in NYC Parks to the cableco’s in exchange for their franchise renewal.

We don’t have all the details yet, but according to the NY Daily News, NYC residents and visitors can sign up for 3 10-minute sessions per month of Wi-Fi internet access in parks. This isn’t Free Wi-Fi, like NYCwireless, the Downtown Alliance, and others provide, since you need to pay $0.99/day after you use up your 10-minute sessions.

As a tax-paying resident of NYC, I’m personally offended that DoITT would allow a CableCo to make money off of our tax-funded parks. TWC had revenue of $17.9 billion in 2009, and they are paying part of $10 million to light up NYC parks. That’s less than 0.05% of their revenue. Meanwhile, they stand to make $10’s of millions of dollars per year providing this service. (Central Park gets about 25m visitors per year, and if we ignore all other parks, and figure that fewer than half of those visitors buy one day of internet service, we get $0.99 x 10 million visitors = $10m.)

This seems to be DoITT selling out NYC residents and tax-payers. And we shouldn’t be surprised considering how DoITT and the NYC government have been in the telco’s/cableco’s back pocket for years.

A few more notes:

  1. If its not 24/7 Free, its not Free Wi-Fi. Period. This is clearly not “Free Wi-Fi” but rather government sanctioned subscription Wi-Fi.
  2. That DoITT released this on primary day was a clear attempt to bury this news because it knew it was doing wrong by residents of NYC.
  3. The previous Park Wi-Fi program with WiFiSalon drove that company out of business. See our post: Wi-Fi Salon Shuts Down
  4. What happened to DoITT’s plan to offer a more open and sustainable park Wi-Fi program? They put out an RFI last year (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doitt/html/miscs/rfiwifi.shtml), and we (NYCwireless) had quite a lot to say about it (see Response to City Wireless Internet Access for New York City Parks and Other Open Spaces (DoITT RFI) and Our Take: NYC RFI on “City Wireless Internet Access for New York City Parks and Other Open Spaces”). But at least they were trying to ask the right questions…
  5. And what of security and privacy issues? Isn’t this deal like the city saying that we all should be giving our personal and billing information to TWC and Cablevision? What sort of protection has the city negotiated on our behalf?

Only time will tell if DoITT and the NYC Government decide to take the correct path and release an RFP for Free Park Wi-Fi as they indicated they would last year. If they don’t, we’re going to continue to see failure and lack of leadership from the NYC Park Wi-Fi program.

But fear not, NYCwireless will still be here and we’ll still be providing real Free Wi-Fi to all city residents and visitors.

LIRR and MetroNorth RFP for Train and Station Wi-Fi

We missed this item last week, but it seems that the MTA has put out an RFP for Wi-Fi service on LIRR and MetroNorth trains and at stations. You can download the PDF (3mb) or view it inline.

NYC MTA Wireless Broadband RFP 2010 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=33695734&access_key=key-2cfhbxywxnmhy0ffu4t6&page=1&viewMode=list

Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News has a great writeup about this RFP, which leaves a lot to be desired:

The MTA wants a service provider who would operate a network to bear all the expense of installation and operation (including railroad labor costs for same), provide 24×7 customer support, and uninterrupted service.

But the proposal is pretty muddled. While digital advertising (changeable signs on board trains and at stations) should be part of a bidder’s thinking to minimize the cost in installing such systems, there’s no spec for those systems. A bidder can build a bid partly around offering such services. The MTA also likes bids in which the authority shares in revenue.

I don’t see how this could fly. No sensible firm would propose taking on all this expense without any assurance of revenue beyond the public Wi-Fi side of the system. Despite the large number of passengers, many of those most likely to pay already have 3G service on smartphones or through laptop cards. There’s no operational services component, and that should be the baseline for any new rail RFP of the last five years.

Free Wi-Fi in Penn Station!

Our intrepid, on-the-street Wi-Fi sleuth Klaus Ernst has discovered that Penn Station now has some free Wi-Fi courtesy of Amtrak. Wandering through the station, he snagged a screenshot of the login screen from his iPod Touch.

Klaus tells us that the connection is speedy (7Mbps down/1.7 up), and that its available throughout the Amtrak waiting area and most of the rest of that level. The free Wi-Fi in Penn Station is part of Amtrak’s recently launched Wi-Fi program on their Acela trains.

Let us know if you try out this network or the one on the Acela trains. We’d love to hear about people’s experiences!

International Summit for Community Wireless Networks: August 12-15, 2010 in Vienna, Austria

Those of you involved in building Community Wireless Networks likely have heard of Sascha Meinrath’s International Summit for Community Wireless Networks. He started the event a number of years ago  when he was still at UIUC, and its the still the best place to meet and work with community network organizers from around the world.

This year, the Summit is truly going international: its moved to Vienna, Austraia! NYCwireless will be there, and so should all of you. Check out the press release:

The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, Tech Gate Vienna, the CUWiN Foundation, and the Acorn Active Media Foundation are pleased announce that the annual International Summit for Community Wireless Networks will take place in Vienna, Austria from August 12-15, 2010.

Internet access is increasingly important to all facets of civil society. Since the first National Summit for Community Wireless Networks in 2004, tens of thousands of community and municipal broadband initiatives have been deployed around the globe, but many communities are being left out of this communications revolution. “The global coalition of developers, communities, industry, and advocates working together over the past decade has created one of the most disruptive and far-reaching technological innovations of our generation, yet few know about it and fewer still have taken advantage of this opportunity,” says Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Initiative and the Summit’s founder. “The International Summit for Community Wireless Networks is the nexus around which this movement swaps notes, strategizes, and organizes its agenda for development and implementation of ubiquitous, affordable broadband networks.”

2010 marks the first year that this group of technologists, entrepreneurs, government officials, academics and engaged citizens will convene outside the United States, a critical step to broaden and deepen international involvement in what truly is a global movement. Participants will learn from each other’s examples, exchange strategies and anecdotes, and build partnerships that strengthen alliances among projects.

Vienna possesses a rich and diverse mix of established technology companies and start ups, new media organizations, researchers and cultural producers as well as a remarkable number of institutions of higher learning. Not only is Vienna well positioned among the top international leaders in the information economy, the city is also home to FunkFeuer, one of the most advanced community wireless networks in the world. FunkFeuer is highly respected internationally for its technical and social innovations, its many collaborations with university researchers and artists, and the scale and scope of its network. The Summit will provide an opportunity to expand upon FunkFeuer’s successes and spread best-methods for developing sustainable metro-scale wireless mesh networks.

The International Summit for Community Wireless Networks focuses on how wireless networks can better serve their target populations, the policies needed to support broader deployment of community wireless systems, and the latest technological and software innovations in the field.

More information on the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks, including a call for proposals, registration, and other logistical information, will be available in the coming weeks at www.wirelesssummit.org.

We look forward to seeing you in August!

ANNOUNCE: City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community (in SF)

Our good friend Kari Gray is helping to create a technology arts festival in San Francisco this year called “City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community“. Kari originally contacted us about Spectropolis, our Wireless Arts festival from a few years ago, wanting to create something similar out on the west coast. What her team came up with is significantly and impressively more than Spectropolis was, while keeping the core goals of wireless technology and community engagement (leave it to a San Franciscan to one-up us on these concepts!).

There’s an open call for projects, and we think everyone should submit something to the festival. NYC has a lot of innovative, creative, artistic nerds and nerdy artists, and more representation of our great city in SF can only be a good thing!

Recent exhibitions, festivals and conferences across the US and in Europe have taken wireless networks, public space, locative media and urban environments as sites of intervention, creativity, and critique. Formulated within the emerging context of networked urbanism and mobile media, City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community will focus upon dynamics of the shifting, locative, cartographic and social space of the city. It is organized by educational, arts, community-based and civic organizations and asks how locative media can act as a platform and venue for community-led expression.

From within San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, this festival will celebrate the rich possibilities that art and technology offer for urban communication of place and place-based media. City Centered focuses on the use of locative media and wireless technologies for site-specific and neighborhood-based interventions. Artists, designers, architects, community and cultural workers –people, places, and devices — will meet for four days of street-side celebration, public exhibitions, a symposium, and workshops. The festival seeks new work aligned with the themes of creative mapping, urban storytelling, sentient space, body awareness, local history, contested spaces and gaming.

The festival’s main goals are:

  • to promote creative public use of free wi fi and open networks in the city of San Francisco
  • to encourage meaningful collaboration between artists and local organizations in connection with wireless networks
  • to introduce site-specific locative media art to urban places

    CBSMobileZone Shut Down?

    Our roving Wi-Fi reporter, Klaus Ernst, has checked out the Times Square area again looking for CBSMobileZone hotspots that were online (though barely functional) a few months ago. Here’s his report:

    when trying to connect at a CBSMobileZone lately I keep getting redirected to:

    no aptilo terms of service page coming up. Also the “cbsmobilezone.com” Website is gone. Could be accessed from anywhere not just their hotspots.

    Right by CBS on Sixth Av I caught a good one: upper case and lower case. Was always like that. My guess is that the lower case was their tryout and they never corrected it.

    The last time I was able to connect to CBSMobileZone was on Nov. 28 (Subway entrance 7th Av and 53 St) I checked the stats from an email I sent from there. The hotspots have definitely something to do with Verizon:

    from [10.128.6.248] (pool-71-167-227-24.nycmny.east.verizon.net[71.167.227.24])

    So is CBSMobileZone history? Have you heard anything?

    So, has anyone heard anything about CBSMobileZone? Is it in fact quietly shut down?