Category Archives: Wi-Fi

Belling the Cat

New York. London. Belfast.

A random pick of three news items, each of which discusses the public availability of free wireless connectivity in mass transit systems. In London and New York, the service provider is a third-party private, for-profit, agency, while it is not mentioned in the article on northern Ireland, but seems to be the transit company itself.

Now, as many people would know, wifi is not currently the most protected and secure wireless connectivity option possible, but nearly all modern portable devices can connect to it ‘out of the box’. Continue reading

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Filed under Accessibility, Communication, Community, connectivity, Democracy, development, Radio, Self-help, Wi-Fi

Less Power, More Power

A Little Energy Goes a Long Way

Somehow the concepts of ‘less is more’ and ‘small is beautiful’ do not ring out loud and clear in the community networking environment. Perhaps they are just too obvious: however, I suspect that for urban-focused networks, with their routers and access points dangling from eaves and out of windows, drawing energy from house utility connections, it is really irrelevant.

In the countryside, things are different. Networks stretch across the kilometers, lonely towers in remote spots relaying signals between clusters of homes, over jungle and desert, from hilltop to distant peak and down to the shaded valley below. In this scenario, efficient power solutions mean less money spent on expensive solar power, generated locally and guarded from the depredations of monkeys and men.

Needless to say, the deliverable goes further. In older systems of information delivery, mankind sought to create efficiency by centralising content creation in one place, transmitting across the world with megawatt transmitters, pumping powerful shortwave signals across the world. What price such efficiency, focusing on the packaging till the words became meaningless, the songs capsuled till the music couldn’t be heard.

How many times have I heard techies and engineers shake their heads and mutter, “There has to be a better way“? In the world of information exchange, evolved and transforming the age-old traditions of information dissemination, we find a semantic that neatly divides the e-Generation from its elders and [not-so-?]betters.

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Filed under Accessibility, Blogroll, broadband, Community, connectivity, Democracy, development, energy, Internet, Intranet, Privacy, Radio, Security, technology, Uncategorized, Wi-Fi

Access 4 All

Broadband and Governance: Empowerment or Illusion?

Proponents of ICT4D, roaming the corridors of power restlessly, find reasoned arguments for the support of the rapid dissemination of broadband connectivity in India seem to bounce endlessly off the walls. In the meantime, the doors of decision makers seem ever more open to the blandishments of commercial technology providers, whose bulging balance sheets reflect their seductive views on where the demand really lies: in the ready pockets of the arrivistes.
Do alternate technologies exist in reality, and can they really provide meaningful leverage for development? Here’s a quick look at the choices for India.

Smart connectivity, a sea change from the analogue technologies ubiquitously deployed in the developed economies of the 20th century, appears to be a powerful argument for the spread of equitable governance. Proponents of these technologies argue persuasively that a “knowledge society” is one armed with more information (and by corollary, better information): better information enables better choices. Continue reading

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Filed under broadband, connectivity, development, governance, GPRS, social processes, technology, Wi-Fi