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Free WiFi for Everyone!

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NadineJ
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Platinum
skeptically optimistic
NadineJ   2/25/2014 10:23:48 AM
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This sounds great.  I live near the Internet Archive here in San Francisco.   I'm sure many internet pioneers envisioned this from the beginning.

Here in the U.S., I doubt that communications companies will allow it.  AT&T just filed a patent for the "prevention of bandwidth abuse of a communications system".  You can read more in the HuffPost article.

If one uses too much bandwidth for the "wrong kind of activity", the speed will automatically slow down.  The provider determines what's right or wrong.

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: skeptically optimistic
tekochip   2/25/2014 1:55:20 PM
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I wonder if AT&T fought hard to kill net neutrality because cord cutters are klling their premium TV business.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: skeptically optimistic
Elizabeth M   2/26/2014 4:57:31 AM
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In some ways I think this is a great idea, especially for those who have no or limited email access due to poverty or their remote location (though I agree with folks who think it will have a hard time passing legislative barriers). On the other hand, I sometimes like the idea of being in a place without access to the Internet, as a way to "turn off and tune out" all of the constant flow of communication and information that can sometimes be a real clutter to human lives. So it's a double-edged sword for me. But an ambitious and interesting project nonetheless!

bdcst
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Platinum
Re: skeptically optimistic
bdcst   2/26/2014 9:17:42 AM
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I'm more skeptical about this grand scheme for global free WiFi.  First of all, I think the amount of traffic will quickly overload the system making thru-put very poor.  So much for emergency traffic!  Second, if we clutter up the LEO sky's with a sufficient number of these cubes to provide continuous global coverage, think about the junk in orbit issues it will exascerbate.  Third, even in LEO these access points will be listening for very weak WiFi signals.  It won't take much to jam them.

Davek3gau
User Rank
Gold
Re: skeptically optimistic
Davek3gau   2/26/2014 9:25:04 AM
Elizabeth,

" I sometimes like the idea of being in a place without access to the Internet, as a way to "turn off and tune out" all of the constant flow of communication and information that can sometimes be a real clutter to human lives."

 

Every device I know of has an OFF switch or can have a dead battery!  You just have to have the courage and intestinal fortitude to use them!! :-)

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: skeptically optimistic
Elizabeth M   2/27/2014 5:47:32 AM
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Yes, Davek3gau, I know I have options to tune things out if I want to. It's just so tempting sometimes to be always on, if you know what I mean. I do probably need to use that off switch a lot more often than I do! Thanks for the reminder.

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Re: skeptically optimistic
Debera Harward   4/22/2014 6:04:08 AM
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Elizebeth, I totally agree with you that sometimes you need a break from all these technologies especially internet and smart fones to give our minds rest but then we cant argue on the fact that WIFI is now not the luxury but it is the necessity of life . We should have acces to wifi and i really liked the idea however by not using it we can give ourselves the break .

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: skeptically optimistic
Elizabeth M   4/24/2014 5:48:57 AM
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Yes, I agree, Debera. WiFi is essential. I just was with a friend who is living in a house quite outside the center of her town and couldn't find an Internet provider for six months. She just received her WiFi service when I was visiting and it was like Christmas morning for her; she was so excited. So I think WiFi should be ubiquitous.

naperlou
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Blogger
nothing is free
naperlou   2/25/2014 11:33:34 AM
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Cabe, sounds like Iridium.  Remember that?  It was (is) a worldwide, low earth ofbit (LEO) system.  It is very expensive to use.  The phones are large (compared to today's smart phones).  The cost to design and launch such a system is very large and it will be interesting to see how it all gets paid for.

The other thing, which you allude to in your article, is that these systems would cross international borders.  This might also be an issue, considering what some countries have done to control the Internet withing their borders.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Re: nothing is free
TJ McDermott   2/25/2014 12:48:54 PM
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The "dispersed around the globe" comment regarding low earth orbit caught my eye.  Satellites don't maintain position over one point on the globe when in LEO.  A satellite needs to be in geosynchronous orbit to do that; a much higher an costlier proposition.

Putting this large constellation in LEO seems like the possibility of orbit conflict would be much higher:

http://www.space.com/9870-iridium-cosmos-satellite-collision.html

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: nothing is free
Nancy Golden   2/26/2014 8:43:14 PM
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"MDIF would include streaming news and information (both international and local), applications and content (including Ubuntu, OpenStreetMap, and Wikipedia), educational courseware, and emergency communications."

How does it all get paid for? I would think it would be through advertsing - ads embedded in the content that has access to a global audience would be enticing to many companies.

Crackle
User Rank
Silver
Comment on internet censorship
Crackle   2/26/2014 9:54:59 AM
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Cabe, I was suprised to see the UK included next to North Korea and China in your list of the "bad boys" of internet censorship. I'd suggest this page for a better ranking of canditates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship#Internet.

 

HowieD231
User Rank
Silver
do the numbers..
HowieD231   2/26/2014 10:05:36 AM
I ahve read about this initiative in several sources and it's obvious the financial guys have not hired any engineers yet. Based on a rough link budget, a LEO satellite would need an EIRP of about 4,000 Watts to be heard by a typical WiFi device on earth. That's allot of power for a big satellite and nearly impossible for a small satellite. The other problem is going to be doppler shift. A satellite in LEO is travelling around 17,000 MPH so the frequency change during the pass will be significant at 2.4 GHz, I doubt standard WiFi receivers will cope well with this. Satellites in LEO orbit are only visible for about 10 minutes a pass, even occasional access will require quite a few satellites. This project is a data broadcast only scnario, so the you still need some other means to send data back into the net. This are just a few of the technical problems. Using satellites to bypass national laws will not be tolerated under international laws and treaties. The satellite operator will find his license revoked and probably fined by the issuing authority. Space is not the "wild west", there are laws and regulations that do apply even if some are voluntary. The only waythis half baked scheme has a chance of working is if the satellites transmit to specially equipped gound stations that feed traditional WiFi access points for local distribution. This whole thing looks like a way for some financial "speculaotrs" to raise lots of money off of unknowing investors in order to skim off fees and expenses.

networksguy
User Rank
Silver
Re: do the numbers..
networksguy   2/26/2014 6:15:17 PM
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Indeed.  Link budget, round-trip delay time, antenna pattern (WiFi antennas aren't generally going to be directing much power upward - it's a waste most of the time), data rate, Doppler shift, ground track served by one microsat and number of subscribers in it, power available to the sat for transmitter, number of satellites needed and orbital tracks (are the poles, sub-Saharan Africa, and all of Asia covered, as they are for Iridium but not for Globalstar?), satellite orbital decay or graveyard orbits for so many sats, ..., the list of difficulties in doing what it appears they're claiming to do goes on and on.  In the absence of facts, some skepticism is called for.

To be generous, when they say WiFi, perhaps they mean "WiFi" in a non-literal sense -- some wireless networking method.  But calling it WiFi carries compatibility, data rate, coverage, and range implications that are at best misleading and at worst dishonest.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
FREE WIFI
bobjengr   2/26/2014 5:00:23 PM
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Cabe--It seems as though the barriers, both technical and legal, are significant but I certainly do think the system would be marvelous if brought to fruition.  I feel confident that with the advent of the Internet and social media we have a world in which countries are no longer satisfied with governmental status quo.  I think the Arab Spring proves that point.  Is there any feel for the cost of this effort?  Has to be millions if not billions.  Excellent post.

vandamme
User Rank
Silver
Pump and dump scheme
vandamme   2/26/2014 8:57:07 PM
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I doubt the concept would pass a back of the envelope analysis.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Pump and dump scheme
Elizabeth M   2/27/2014 5:48:23 AM
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Your point is succinctly put, vandamme, and I suspect the same, even though it sounds like a good idea!

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