emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

municipal wifi

very inspiring. very very inspiring.

Categories: sxsw 2008

ah, coffee.

“league of technical voters”?

esme. (started june 2003) mix of technologies in non-western co’s. “I refuse to get an iPhone until I get 3G.” easier to get wifi on friend’s iphone than to use EDGE network. has tmobile pre-paid card here. gets roaming charges if she leaves netherlands (“about 20 feet”); data charges! (yep.) 10,000 euro phone bill because she was videoblogging a conference in paris. price it high because they don’t want you to use it, because there isn’t enough capacity.

going into models: (1) building backbone and allowing providers to do stuff with it (2) let advertisers run it (3)

underestimated number of access points needed at street level, and the amount of backhaul needed.

“free-est wireless city in the world” (austin guy) network designed in case of political or financial disaster. SBC (now AT&T) is a texas co, don’t want to put a target on their heads. financially resilient. “every node had to carry its own weight” vs. single payer. (did we use a photo of this guy in C’s final project?) if a node went bankrupt, burned down, etc, all the other neighborhood’s nodes are still ok. like internet v. nuclear attack.

experiments in austin: network started in fall ’02, aeons ago in wifi. started experimenting with social networks, co-working. meeting the people that you see around the coffeeshops, and actually getting to know them: break the ice. (that’s freaking cool.) playing with advertising as well. “still a myth” that mobile advertising can fund any large build-out. help advertisers come up with well-defined audiences, because the users are known.

bonewald (league) was involved in protesting crackdown on sharing bandwidth. convincing argument: town near grandparents’ ranch (family is big in football coaching in texas). has a business model; sf had just “welched out” what would work? several-step process. hmmmm. “free and open source social network” underlying architecture of individual sharing. but no city buy-in. and then advertising, but again what’s in it for the city? municipal tools! moving away from yahoo groups, “to help build community on the east side” (ha!) supplying computers and all that. (okay, must talk to her now.) how to work with user agreements that time-warner is making people sign.

it’s not a tech problem, but a business problem. yeah. usa definitely NOT a leader in this area? what about other countries?

esme: wireless broadband is connected to wired broadband. EU telcom commissioner forcing carriers to open fiber et al to competitors. separate the pipe from the service providers, layer 2.

mackinnon: montreal, berlin, suburbs of barcelona. montreal copied austin, but did things differently. in austin they relied on pc-based servers, kept pentium 1/2s out of the landfill. they went to programmable linksys routers, skipped the server. elegant, if not as green. easier to put into venues: less space, needs less electricty. berlin mesh networking. “hijacked” (like meraki) when the venture capitalists came in with lawyers. berlin group wilfully violates sharing agreements, but that’s a social/political issue. municipalities don’t realize there’s a lower cost option. spain has phone monopoly; outside of big cities, no broadband. ancient villages drying up. enable villages to help themselves. point to multi-point. gigantic wireless lan. just because you have access to the lan, doesn’t mean you have access to the internet. (That’s what C keeps talking about) gaming as the classic application. “internet as an extra service”

bonewald: someone in the audience from new zealand where they’re playing w/meraki stuff. but otherwise not as knowledgable outside of US. grid (mesh?) solutions in small towns can be a fiscally conservative option. volunteer fire departments.

also a political issue. could we build a movement on the national level?

esme: yes, you can. texas movement. you can’t just talk about broadband. “we need wifi. why?” talk about it as choice. take back control from the big phone company. always be asking why.

bonewald: I want everyone to be as addicted as I am. spent too much money while in new zealand.

q: guy from montreal. really believe in the ad-driven model, but projects are missing component: local salesforce; what about partnering with yellow pages? every city has a weekly newspaper (the stranger, et al) supported by ads, partner with those? compelling value proposition: we’ll run your ad on hotspots all across the city. with a social network included, can have the events as part of that. “yay you guys, y’all are hard core.” (for being at a panel on last day)

q: EU proposal abt structural separation: do you know people who’ve done networking in the US; are there serious non-geeks involved? esme sez no, because of telcom lobbyists, our money system in politics. I missed the 2nd question; who’s logged into hotspots near you. send “shouts” or “whispers” have been looking at openid, haven’t done yet because programming resources are so tight. 98% of public have no idea what you’re talking about. waiting for people to understand.

q: what didn’t work in philly? mountain view provided by google — how are public spaces are going to be provisioned? issues with earthlink getting out of the biz. ceo died and he was the big backer, plus cost overruns. google: deep pockets, but it’s still moving so slowly. mobile marketing market may still be too immature. “advertising? where are those dollars?” lots of finger-pointing! met 3 ad partners, now piloting some of the best programs around today. 200 new users a day. they make $200/month on advertising. and they have one of the best networks around. mesh network — slowly — coming into parks, thru city of austin. never able to invest because couldn’t get coverage in buildings.

q: mike from NZ. “the free net” sees it as a national competitive advantage. they lose out whenever someone can’t get onto a network. spills over into the community. agrees on advertising model, but maybe later. people configuring advertising on their own node. (neat!) cost of mgmt is more than the network. need to figure out how to set up a network that doesn’t need mgmt, which is tricky w/govt. can be grass-roots AND top-down. they pay by volume, not speed. donate your extra volume back to the community. room for both telcos and free. no guarantee “might unplug tomorrow & plug my xmas tree in” on free. demonstrating that internet is of value. starting with CBD. (as was discussed with Oly in cmte)

q: people getting frustrated with lack of coherent in wifi projects. “wefi.org” decentralized. problem that he keeps seeing: no easy rolled-up solution for setup. ddwrt that was super-easy to install, divided off part of your service, throttling, your part is secure separate from public. “people need to know that they can share” (not really a question!) problem with time-warner contracts. muni’s have to care, even if individuals don’t have to. grassroots vs. weeds. squirrels planting volunteer trees. yeah. something permanent for the people of austin. need a “gardener” to have a quality network. “network planted by squirrels” (that is the MOST HAWESOME PHRASE EVAR.) download software that they use (austin project) from sourceforge. authentication server. time warner provides window stickers.

q: guy out in the country, gets dial-up, broadband is 4 miles away. satellite doesn’t work if weather is lousy. what to do to get this closer to his house? collective action. find compadres, like suburbs of barcelona. like a co-op. (what was the name of those guys?) sharing the hard-line costs, then distribute it nearby. “you’re in the same position as the 3rd world, you’ll need to use a third world solution.” direct beam to guy in NZ?

q: works with rural telcos. “universal service fund” when someone tries to build out cable, what rules to include in local agreements? (I should go find that guy. franchise.) in austin: got best brains in the region together. grande communication, has clauses you are looking for, but made them less competitive.

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