interviews London: Manu
interviews New York: Ilze
[realaudio, 40min, english]
When New Labour announced their policy aim for the UK to be the leading nation in terms of broadband infrastructure by the year 2005, the resulting media buzz rendered the term broadband - high speed internet access, typically for a flat rate - into daily vocabulary. However a recent report about broadband penetration by the OECD listed the UK 22nd out of 30 nations. 28 people out of 1000 use broadband in the UK, compared to over 140 per 1000 in the leading nation, South Korea. In the UK, delays in provision and high prices have left the cybercitizens feeling short-changed. Some have taken matters in their own hands.
In the last few years, some of the more technically minded internet users had experimented with data transfer using microwaves in order to enable fast, cheap, and wireless access to the internet. Fast, because under an internationally agreed protocol named IEEE 802.11b, microwave transmission has a theoretical bandwidth of 11 MBps - that's over 20 times a typical ADSL (wired broadband) connection. Cheap, because a broadband connection can be shared among many users, and a portion of the microwave frequency spectrum - around 2.4 GHz - is available for use without license .
Networkers with broadband who want to share their bandwith create a network node by installing an antenna on their roof or window sill. The antenna connects to a dedicated traffic-control computer called a router, which in turn is linked to the broadband connection and the networker's other computer systems. Anyone with an antenna that is in line of sight of the first antenna can log on to the internet through a microwave link between the antennas. Some laptops and palmtops have antennas built in. And this convenience and speed comes relatively cheaply - with some care, a good antenna can be made at home, and the required wireless card bought for less than £80. If you're building a wireless access point (or gateway to the internet) and need to have a router, you can reconfigure an obsolescent PC that is being thrown out by your neighbourhood office.
Wireless broadband enables you to download video onto your laptop while sitting in the park, check your emails from your palmtop while strolling the streets, or simply to deal with getting online in a foreign country when you don't have the right modem adapter for the hotel telephone socket. Wireless networks are also an ideal solution for homes and offices. Such internal networks, or intranets, can give you online access in every room and enable you to share printers and other peripherals without the cost and clutter of metres of cable. And wireless networks could even radically change the face of broadcast media.
In this programme, ambientTV.NET talks to participants of DIY wireless network initiatives in London and New York.
[play radio programme]