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Wireless to Shake Up Telecom World
Associated Press ^ | Sunday, August 11, 2002 | MATTHEW FORDAHL

Posted on 08/11/2002 11:32:30 AM PDT by Dog Gone

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- There's high-speed Internet in the air.

A technology originally developed to link PCs in small, wireless clusters is spurring grassroots efforts to create Internet ``clouds'' that could eventually bypass the networks of big telecommunications providers.

So far, the greatest buzz over WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, has surrounded the sharing of connectivity among neighbors, friends and strangers.

But the inexpensive technology, known scientifically as 802.11b, may be destined for something much bigger. Users are expanding homegrown networks with little or no control from the local phone or cable company.

``This feels like the Internet from 1994,'' said Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia, which is working with Athens, Ga. to install a wireless cloud downtown.

Such wireless networks don't require millions of dollars for digging trenches, laying cables or building towers. Anyone who wants to be a service provider only needs a dedicated Internet connection and a $200 access point.

Users pop a $70 card into their desktops or laptops to link to the networks, usually within a few hundred feet of the access points. Some products even have built-in transmitter and receiver capabilities, allowing users to grow the network while they're online.

Intel Corp., for one, says it plans to build such functionality into chips.

Wireless clouds could support a new generation of technology, from always-on portable phones and handheld computers to futuristic sensors that could continually update weather or smog conditions, for instance.

Coverage remains limited today, a far cry from what is offered by cable, phone and cellular companies. WiFi is still mostly used to provide Internet to laptops and desktops in homes and offices as well as airports, hotel lobbies and coffee shops.

But advocates say WiFi's organic growth, low cost and simplicity bodes well for future development. And while current wireless equipment extends DSL or cable Internet service to several hundred feet, the range can grow to a dozen miles or more with the addition of a stronger antenna.

Countless free access points are up and running. Most are advertised on the Web. A group in London has even proposed marking hotspots with chalk.

So far, these early efforts do not threaten service providers.

But they could eventually spell trouble for the debt-laden telecom industry, which has spent billions rolling out wired and terrestrial networks, said Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

``The decline you've seen in (telecoms industry) market value may not just be some trend that will bounce back with the rest of the market,'' Negroponte told a recent Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee meeting. ``It may not bounce back because we're going to use telecommunications very differently.''

Most of telecoms' grumbling over WiFi stems from customers publicly sharing their cable or DSL service.

``We believe that's theft of service,'' said Sara Eder, a spokeswoman for AT&T Broadband, which provides cable modem service.

AT&T is not alone, though enforcement is difficult. SBC Communications recently rewrote its policies to forbid connection sharing outside the home. Time Warner Cable in New York has sent out a warning letter to about 10 subscribers who were sharing their connections.

Other providers say they don't mind if connections are shared, provided it doesn't diminish speeds for paying customers.

But it remains to be seen whether grassroots groups can maintain the momentum necessary to provide free coverage for entire cities or regions, or whether corporations will step in. Already, reports are circulating about plans by major tech companies to deploy a nationwide network.

Sales of WiFi access cards and base stations are taking off, with sales expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2001 to $5.2 billion in 2005 despite price drops, according to research firm Cahners In-Stat.

The sky is the limit for potential applications, said Shamp, who is preparing to launch the wireless cloud in Athens later this year.

``We're designing a sandbox,'' he said. ``We want a place where people can experiment.''

In San Francisco, Dan Augustine and Jason Luther started SF Wireless, which has 40 volunteers working on a project that not only provides free connectivity but has a goal of replacing wired infrastructure and providing content specific to their neighborhood.

Industry has had no choice but to respond.

Cell phone companies are hedging their bets by adding WiFi capabilities to products.

``There is a network that has emerged from the grassroots without a lot of planning,'' said Andrew Cole, senior vice president for wireless at the consulting firm Adventis. ``It answers a highly marketable need. You should not underestimate it.''


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: internet; techindex
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1 posted on 08/11/2002 11:32:30 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
I need cheap reliable connectivty. I am too connected and spending too much money! Between work, travel and home, I have 2 cell phones, High speed cable internet at home and DSL at work and AOL for travel. I have 2 phone lines at home and cable TV. Oh, I have a pager too. When am I going to see an economical alternative to all this connectivity madness?
2 posted on 08/11/2002 11:49:35 AM PDT by umgud
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To: umgud
According to this article, it won't be long. It seems as if the internet is about to become like free broadcast radio, and there's nothing the AOL Time-Warners can do about it.
3 posted on 08/11/2002 11:52:50 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
A group in London has even proposed marking hotspots with chalk.

Crackers are already doing this. Most wireless networks have virtually no security. You may be sharing your connection without even knowing it.

4 posted on 08/11/2002 12:01:07 PM PDT by irv
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To: Dog Gone
The genie is out of the bottle. AGAIN.
5 posted on 08/11/2002 12:05:42 PM PDT by unixfox
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To: Dog Gone
I have a wireless router with three PCs and a laptop connected. The listed maximum range is 1500 ft. unobstructed and 500 ft. through walls. With a couple of well placed access points, I could hook-up my whole neighborhood.
6 posted on 08/11/2002 12:08:43 PM PDT by socal_parrot
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To: irv
Security is available for wireless networks. Some people who install them don't bother to enable it, I guess because they are morons.

It's like leaving your wallet on a park bench and assuming that nobody will touch it.

7 posted on 08/11/2002 12:13:40 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
Hate to say this, but I've been doing it for the last two years!

I have Sprint Wireless Broadband for my internet. A simple antenna on the roof, generate a key (for security) and I can light up any one of my neighbors (144 homes in total) on the internet and collect $20 from each of 'em. They pay for their wireless cards and a small antenna that I build and blammo! They're on the 'net at faster speeds than dialup.

Works great, they love it, and no more crappy cable modem. Their total investment is $90 or so for their own wireless card, I replace the wireless antenna (on the back of the card) with a coax connection and small 18" antenna that clips onto the gutter of their house. They're on the 'net in less than an hour. I use DHCP & NAT for all the IP addresses, they get their own webmail accounts through hotmail or yahoo and they're happy.

8 posted on 08/11/2002 12:14:06 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: Thud
ping
9 posted on 08/11/2002 12:22:49 PM PDT by Dark Wing
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To: usconservative
I would like to get on wireless and get rid of my Verizon addiction. Where can I get this Sprint Wireless? I feel the need for speed.......
10 posted on 08/11/2002 12:29:40 PM PDT by GregB
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To: *tech_index
Index Bump
11 posted on 08/11/2002 12:36:01 PM PDT by Free the USA
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To: usconservative
I can light up any one of my neighbors (144 homes in total) on the internet and collect $20 from each of 'em.

Is that $20 a month, or just $20? How much does the Sprint Wireless run you?

What is your motivation for this neighborhood service? Profit, or are you just a good neighbor?

12 posted on 08/11/2002 12:38:47 PM PDT by Semper911
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To: Semper911
$20/month.

And Profit is always a motivation. I'm a good capitalist, ya know. :)

13 posted on 08/11/2002 12:53:42 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: usconservative
I wish I lived in your neighborhood. I would gladly pay you each month. I get sick each time I write a check for my cable Internet service. I would do anything to break free of ATT Broadband.

How much does that Sprint Wireless run you?

14 posted on 08/11/2002 1:12:43 PM PDT by Semper911
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To: Semper911
I get sick each time I write a check for my cable Internet service.

That kills me. The fifty or sixty bucks a months is a steal. Everyone wants something for nothing. Just how much do you think high speed Internet service should cost? Or should it be free like the roads you drive on?

15 posted on 08/11/2002 1:16:07 PM PDT by Glenn
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To: Semper911
I pay $49.95/month. My download speeds average 6-8mb/second which means my downloads run 350-550kb/second which ain't shabby. The upload speed is locked at 256k, but who uploads anyway?
16 posted on 08/11/2002 1:21:05 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: Semper911
BTW: as soon as the wife gets home, and tells me where she hides the digital camera, I'll take a pic of the setup I have on the roof and post it.
17 posted on 08/11/2002 1:21:55 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: Dog Gone
I recently set up a wireless network here in my home; a workstation (PC on steroids) and three laptops......connected via a WAP (wireless access point) connected to a router (workstation and WAP connected directly to the router); in turn connected to my high-speed Internet connection. Notice there's no DSL or cable modem in this mix; this is due to the nature of Sprint's (they're our local telephone service provider) high speed access. Where I live, we have fiber to the curb. To use Sprint's FastConnect service, they merely run some Cat 5 cable, hook up a RJ45 jack in your house, and voila. You're just a node on their network (actually, for the bit heads, they're just hooking you up directly to a DHCP server). Always on, no modem, no phone line, etc. etc.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with wireless. :) The wireless network is wonderful, and if/when we move from here, the whole network comes along.........no wires, jacks, etc.,etc.

I SERIOUSLY considered jumping to 802.11a (offering 54 megabit vs. 802.11b's 11 megabit data rates), but it's still more than a bit pricey. However, that will change over the next year or so.

For the record, I tried one of D-Link's new routers that uses 802.11b but claims speeds up to 22 megabit..........but don't get it (the 614+). NICE unit, mind you, and my current router is also a D Link and I love it..........BUT, the 614+ will NOT allow you to access a VPN. Serious bug there. If you're like me and need to access your company's VPN (virtual private network for the uninitiated), especially from one of the wireless nodes in your home network, fuhgeddaboutit. Won't happen.

Anyway..............do it, folks. Wireless is THE way to go. :)

18 posted on 08/11/2002 1:22:38 PM PDT by RightOnline
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To: RightOnline
I haven't gone to wireless yet for home networking for two reasons. (I do understand the difference between wireless internet connections and wireless network connections which is the subject of this news article, BTW.)

The first reason is security. While I understand that it can be enabled so that your neighbor doesn't tune into your C Drive, I'm not sufficiently satisfied that it's secure. I probably need to read more, and that would take care of that objection.

The second reason is that I understand that wireless connections are not as fast as wired connections. That doesn't make any difference for most tasks on a home network, but it does make a difference if your teenage son uses the internet for gaming, and he's getting a lag on his machine in the other room.

19 posted on 08/11/2002 1:57:35 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Glenn
I get sick each time I write a check for my cable Internet service. That kills me. The fifty or sixty bucks a months is a steal. Everyone wants something for nothing.

Step off, Glenn. I should have been more clear about my beef with the cable company. They are the worst for customer service, and they raise their rates whenever they damn well please. There is no other cable company to compete with them, and they own this town.

There is no DSL available in my neighborhood, and for TV, a dish is out of the question because of line-of-sight issues. I hate writing them a check because they are the only game in town for me, and I wish I had some free market choice in the matter.

Just how much do you think high speed Internet service should cost? Or should it be free like the roads you drive on?

That's a little over the top, don't you think? What is the point of making these indindiary remarks? Yeah, everything should be free. That's what I said in my post. Uh huh.

20 posted on 08/11/2002 1:59:39 PM PDT by Semper911
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To: Dog Gone
I hear "Internet push" is gonna be BIG too - I think I'll rush out and invest all my money in that!

Oh, wait...forgot...I don't have any money! *frown*

21 posted on 08/11/2002 2:18:53 PM PDT by The Duke
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To: Dog Gone
Look at the speed that your current ISP is providing to you via your high-speed access service. My guess is that you probably aren't getting much more than 10 megabit.......and if that's the case, then 802.11b will provide a connection that is more than ample at 11 megabit. It's well known that you can't trust what Windows is telling you by way of your network connection speed. Ours routinely says that we're running full out at 100 megabit..........but there's no way in hell we're running at that speed (that'd be network speed; we're smokin' and all, but NOT at 100 megabit).

IOW, I highly doubt your son would notice any appreciable difference whatsoever.

As for security.............excellent point. Nowdays, you can easily run at 256 bit data encryption on your internal, wireless network. No one short of a spook is going to crack that. Routers that you purchase for such things also have excellent built in firewalls as well.

In addition to all of the above, we also run Zone Alarm. That keeps twerps (well, along with the router's firewall) out of our "hardwired" system, and with the encryption on the wireless nodes / WAP, we're QUITE secure.

22 posted on 08/11/2002 2:27:57 PM PDT by RightOnline
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To: RightOnline
According to this test, I'm running at 1.3 megabits per second, which it claims is fantastic. Sounds like I'm absolutely crawling compared to you. :(
23 posted on 08/11/2002 2:37:15 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: usconservative
Don't let Sprint find out. If you look at their service contract agreement you may be suprised to find that what you are doing is illegal.
24 posted on 08/11/2002 2:47:19 PM PDT by semaj
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To: Dog Gone
Try this speed test .
25 posted on 08/11/2002 3:41:32 PM PDT by lodwick
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To: semaj
What I signed said nothing about re-selling the service. :) I've looked. Their entire AUP deals with network intrusion/hacking, running web and email servers, and spamming.
26 posted on 08/11/2002 3:49:40 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: usconservative
I installed a wireless access point in my home, then set up the new computer to connect to it. During setup, the new 'puter zeroed in on three other wireless home networks in my neighborhood. Turns out one of them is a pro software developer. He and my wife started scheming on this very setup the other night (she's a computer scientist) to cut our costs and share one broadband connection. Don't know about the other neighbors yet, but past history has shown some of them to be wienies. (Time-Warner won't be thrilled either is my guess).
27 posted on 08/11/2002 3:55:24 PM PDT by lafroste
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To: lodwick
That's a better site. It provides far more detail, although the results were basically the same. Nobody is getting 10 megabites per second, at least as reported there.
28 posted on 08/11/2002 4:02:06 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Semper911
They are the worst for customer service, and they raise their rates whenever they damn well please.

How often do you need their customer service? How often have they raised their rates? By how much? I use their service, by the way. My first high speed connection was ISDN. $175/month for 128k access through Alltel. You're getting a bargain. Perhaps you'll be happier when it has the name of Charter on the bill.

29 posted on 08/11/2002 4:07:23 PM PDT by Glenn
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To: Dog Gone
It seems as if the internet is about to become like free broadcast radio, and there's nothing the AOL Time-Warners can do about it.

They can restrict bandwidth and set limits.

30 posted on 08/11/2002 4:24:03 PM PDT by milestogo
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To: lafroste
Funny Story - and TRUE.

A friend of mine who's in my Mens group @ church took his notebook with a wireless network card and drove around his neighborhood to see if he could connect to the internet through one of his neighbors wireless connections.

Sure enough, he found at least 5 wireless connections that he could connect to with a blank key and get on the 'net. One of them lived only two doors down from him, and he could get the signal from his neighbor sitting in the comfort of his own home.

That's what gave me the idea to do it. The new 5.4Ghz wireless systems that will do 54mbit connections have even a greater range than the wireless system I have now.

Now, ya gotta wonder just what the terrorist opportunities are here. I'm afraid to go into the details. ;-) But think about it: if you can drive through a neighborhood and pick up multiple FREE internet access connections because people are too stupid to lock their wireless systems down, what other types of mischief can be cause on the internet?

Inquiring minds...

31 posted on 08/11/2002 4:45:46 PM PDT by usconservative
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To: Dog Gone
Interesting. On your site, I was doing 941, and on "mine" I was at 1.3. Who knows?

Anything but dial-up. Once you've tasted speed - you can never go back. ;-)
32 posted on 08/11/2002 6:31:55 PM PDT by lodwick
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To: lodwick
Thanks for the link:

I got --- 2492/114 over Cable!

33 posted on 08/11/2002 6:37:33 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: lodwick
Weird. At your site I'm doing slightly slower than at the one I linked.

It's been well over a year since I switched from a 56K modem to DSL. The difference cannot be adequately described in words.

34 posted on 08/11/2002 6:42:28 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
Well according to the test you link to I get : 521.2 kilobits per second, they say it is fantastic also. Why am I so much slower than with the other test? Hmm!
35 posted on 08/11/2002 6:44:25 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Dog Gone
I just helped a friend of mine who is a teacher set up her new wireless Mac lab at the school. She had to move into a new classroom over the Summer and the room only had two drops. Instead of waiting around for the work to get done, she talked the Principal into getting wireless cards for all the iMacs and a couple of base stations.... We were up and surfing in minutes. No ugly wires, and it saved lots of $$.

Cheers, CC :)

<---Click Here

36 posted on 08/11/2002 6:51:40 PM PDT by CheneyChick
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To: CheneyChick
How much does a wirless internet service cost? What does it detail? Is it fast a dsl? I'm very interested. Once I get rid of dialup, I may get rid of my telephone service. I have no need for it.
37 posted on 08/11/2002 7:09:39 PM PDT by KevinDavis
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To: usconservative
That's what gave me the idea to do it. The new 5.4Ghz wireless systems that will do 54mbit connections have even a greater range than the wireless system I have now.

Yeah, wireless is getting pretty damn fast for casual wireless access. I've already handled wireless systems capable of 400 Mbits throughput, and others with ranges of well over a hundred miles. Its perfect for residential, though the latency and other factors are sufficiently crappy that no one would want to run a server farm over them.

38 posted on 08/11/2002 7:17:58 PM PDT by tortoise
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To: KevinDavis
Wireless is capable of faster speed than cable or DSL. It all depends on the equipment used in the area and how much you're willing to pay.

I find it odd that wireless is being touted as being a cheaper low cost alternative to the telcoms when the most likely places they're going to put this will be in places where telcoms and cable companies can easily serve for just as much.

I doubt they'll be hooking this up in rural areas for the heck of it.
39 posted on 08/11/2002 8:27:43 PM PDT by Bogey78O
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To: Dog Gone
As to the cable and DSL services upset over WiFi I can understand Cable. After all they sell bandwidth. DSL providers usually just give a fixed amount and leave it at that. A DSL Channel Unit splits upwards 6 to 8 megs of DSL over 4 phone lines. Whether or not you use it is meaningless. It's still there. It'll only bottleneck in the CO's server. With coax it's quite different.
40 posted on 08/11/2002 8:34:01 PM PDT by Bogey78O
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To: CheneyChick

Click here
41 posted on 08/11/2002 8:48:18 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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To: Dog Gone
Intel Corp., for one, says it plans to build such functionality into chips.

Out in front winner.

42 posted on 08/11/2002 8:56:02 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Dog Gone
bump
43 posted on 08/11/2002 8:58:39 PM PDT by knews_hound
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To: hedgetrimmer
How big is that gadget? Is it like the Star Trek communicator?? I like it!
44 posted on 08/11/2002 9:02:49 PM PDT by CheneyChick
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To: zcat
,,, here's how we're doing downunder.
45 posted on 08/11/2002 9:02:50 PM PDT by shaggy eel
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To: hedgetrimmer
bump
46 posted on 08/11/2002 10:24:48 PM PDT by muggs
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To: hedgetrimmer
That little unit is pretty slick. Do you have any experience with it or the company providing it? I requested additional info from their site, but first hand knowledge would be great to have. Thanks.
47 posted on 08/11/2002 11:19:57 PM PDT by Brad C.
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To: Dog Gone
The first reason is security. While I understand that it can be enabled so that your neighbor doesn't tune into your C Drive, I'm not sufficiently satisfied that it's secure. I probably need to read more, and that would take care of that objection.

Wireless networks are secure as long as you use 128-bit WEP and use a strong password.

The second reason is that I understand that wireless connections are not as fast as wired connections.

Well, it depends what you mean. Most home LANs run at 11Mbps. Wireless networks (802.11b) typically run at 11Mbps, as well. So, unless you're really running a 100 Mbps LAN, you're getting similar speeds to a typical LAN (assuming that you don't have RF interference, which can be a big problem in some areas). I use a Cisco Aironet 540 Access Point which, admittedly, is overkill for what I'm using it for. With that kind of capability, I could host nearly everybody within a half-mile or so. I do use 128-bit WEP. The only hassle about it is key distribution but it's a small price to pay for the ability to roam anywhere in the house with my laptop -- or down the block, for that matter.
48 posted on 08/11/2002 11:52:55 PM PDT by Bush2000
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To: CheneyChick
Awwwwwww, what a cute frisbee!
49 posted on 08/11/2002 11:54:06 PM PDT by Bush2000
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To: muggs
bump
50 posted on 08/12/2002 12:06:34 AM PDT by timestax
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