wisp.org : An On-Line Resource for Wireless Internet Service Providers
Updated: 12/12/2005; 11:33:23 PM.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I have been following the work that Microsoft is doing in their Windows Peer To Peer Networking.  This is actually some very impressive technology that allows for a distributed set of users to create peer-to-peer groups for exchanging data and information.  I'm working on some applications (actually plug-ins for GoBinder) that are going to exploit this technology.  Microsoft has put together a Peer To Peer SDK allowing you to perform name-to-IP name resolution (PNRP - a serverless DNS technology), along with graphing and grouping APIs for the transfer of data between the peers.  It's all very impressive stuff ... and is in all Windows XP SP2 machines ... and will be in all Vista machines.  The bottom line ... this is going to drastically alter how ad-hoc groups of users on Windows machines will be able to locate each other, communicate, and collaborate.

Today, I found yet another amazing technology out of Microsoft Research.  For years I have been tracking the "wireless mesh networking" space.  This is where each node in a wireless network is a repeater/relay for any other node that is within range.  With true mesh technologies I can communicate with other users, even if they are beyond the reach of my wireless signal, if there are one or more nodes between us that are part of the "mesh" network.  Mesh networks are the next big thing ... even the cellular carriers are talking about adding emergency mesh capabilities into cell phones.

What I found today is that Microsoft Research has code available today that will allow you to experiment with some pretty advanced mesh networking using your Windows XP machine!  The Microsoft Research Networking Research Group has released their Mesh Networking software, and even an Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit.  I've started to go through the documentation, and so far this is a very impressive solution.  They have embraced and extended some of the standards that are currently being developed:

We implement ad-hoc routing and link quality measurement in a module that we call the Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL). Architecturally, MCL is a loadable Microsoft Windows driver. It implements a virtual network adapter, so that to the rest of the system the ad-hoc network appears as an additional (virtual) network link. MCL routes using a modified version of DSR (an IETF protocol) that we call Link Quality Source Routing (LQSR). We have modified DSR extensively to improve its behavior, most significantly to support link quality metrics.

The MCL driver implements an interposition layer between layer 2 (the link layer) and layer 3 (the network layer). To higher layer software, MCL appears to be just another Ethernet link, albeit a virtual link. To lower layer software, MCL appears to be just another protocol running over the physical link.

I am really impressed to see this work this far along.  I have been waiting for years to see mesh networking hit the masses ... and this is now getting close.  I'm now going to upgrade some of my wearable computers to Windows XP just to experiment with this!

11:32:04 PM    

Friday, March 18, 2005

This announcement is yet another team of people who are capitalizing on the continuing evolution of wireless hardware and software capabilities. This team has created an almost "turn-key" solution for creating wireless mesh networking nodes from inexpensive, and possibly even older used, computer equipment. They claim to have completely automated the configuration of the mesh ... that is a big deal. Expect to see more and more of this ...
CUWiN Goes Public with Open-Source Mesh System. The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) released the fruit of their efforts at the end of the week: The project is an open-source effort to provide mesh networking with no center. The system is self configuring among nodes which need no non-volatile or permanent storage. To set up a CUWiN network, you burn a CD with the 0.5.5 software later this week and use it to boot a computer with a support wireless card. The system finds nearby nodes, creates tables, and establishes itself as part of the network. The software is free and open source. The full press release is after the jump.... [Wi-Fi Networking News]

12:11:27 PM    

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ok ... so the holidays got the best of me.  Followed by a lot of work to prepare for deploying wireless at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.  And also maintaining the 80211.net wireless infrastructure.  Working in wireless can keep you busy.  However it's always fun to learn something new, and experiment with new equipment.

That is the kind of information that I had hoped to provide on this site ... experiences and information about deploying and operating wireless internet services.  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be introducing some of the people who will be contributing to our forums.  These are all people from the industry, either WISPs or manufacturers.  All looking to contribute and educate.

I'll be doing my best to keep up with them, and to document some of the work that I am doing!

9:42:26 PM    

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

As a Wireless ISP, it is important to stay on top of the various wireless standards, and technology trends.  "Mesh Networking" has been a growing innovation for quite some time now, and things are only going to heat up more.

Last week, we saw some of the larger companies getting more interested in mesh networking when Motorola bought MeshNetworks.  When we start to see the acquisitions like this occurring, the market is warming up and becoming more mature.

What is mesh networking, and why would a WISP care?  Mesh, also related to Mobile Ad-hoc Networking (MANET), allows each wireless node to not only send and receive data, but to "repeat" data for other nodes.  What this means is that each node in a mesh network becomes a repeater capable of extending the range of your wireless network.

It is important to understand that mesh networking is not the "end-all" replacement for more traditional "hub and spoke" designs, however it is able to complement these designs in areas where you have a higher density of users.  Consider using mesh solutions in suburban enclaves, where you would only have to get your wireless backhaul to the edge of the neighborhood ... and then use mesh to cover the homes within the neighborhood.

Mesh and MANET are still being evolved to address some of the core issues.  Static mesh networks are more prevalent than mobile MANETs since the routing between mobile nodes becomes much more complex.

To discuss Mesh or MANET networking, come join the conversations in our MANET and Mesh Networking Forum!  There is already a link to some tutorials posted there ...

7:23:55 AM    

Thursday, November 11, 2004

We have the initial WISP.Org Forums taking shape on our web site.  Please stop over and take a look at the topics that we are creating.  Again, our goal is to create a WISP information resource ...  a place to discuss more than just the technical subjects, but even more on the business choices and options ... and impacts.  We are also looking for any good tutorials that can be added to the site to assist WISPs in learning more about upcoming solutions and business opportunities.  We have already added WiMAX and MANET/Mesh forums to provide information on how these solutions might contribute to an overall WISP network.

We are also actively looking for moderators and contributors.  If you want to lead discussions and have some expertise in a particular topic, let us know!  If you just want to jump in and start a good conversation, please feel free.  We also have a variety of authors who are looking to contribute articles for the home page.  If you would like to submit an article to be posted, please forward it to us.

We are open to ideas and assistance ... we want WISP.Org to truly be a valuable resource.

9:29:28 AM    

Monday, November 01, 2004

WISPCON VI was held last week - October 27th-29th - in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a great show, and demonstrated the constant evolution of the WISP market. There were course during the show that covered a broad range of topics, and the Trade Show provided vendors with a place to show what they are up to.

One of the biggest things that I noticed at the show is that the sizes of WISPs continues to grow with more and more customers signing up for Wireless vs. DSL or Cable. There were numerous WISPs present that had 1000+ customers ... a sign of serious networking. And that led to the next thing that I noticed: WISPs are growing up and getting serious about business.

There have always been the larger serious players, however more and more of the smaller WISPs are now moving to new classes of wireless equipment, and adding new back-office capabilities. WISPs are getting serious about FCC certified equipment, and the quality of service they deliver to their customers. They are automating network management, billing, and customer service.

All of this is great news for WISP.Org ... as we continue to move forward to our December 1st roll out. We are looking to provide the broad range of business information and expertise to assist the growing WISP to better understand the market, and their options!

11:20:13 PM    

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Several companies in the Wireless ISP market have all realized the value of building community to increase the sharing of knowledge.  80211.net L.L.C., working with TenX Networks, is glad to announce the coming of WISP.Org!

WISP.Org will be the on-line resource for Wireless Internet Service Providers. Using current generation Open Source software (phpBB), WISP.Org is going to create an on-line community that will tap into the minds of leading providers of wireless products and services.

Stay tuned ... look for updates ... our planned rollout will be December 1, 2004!

12:01:40 AM    

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