Broadband Spread Spectrum Wireless Extends Internet Reach of ISPs & Field Research Scientists

Increased Radio Speed and Decline in Price Enabling Smaller ISPs to Compete with Cable and DSL Internet Access

NSF PI Dave Hughes Explains How Wireless Data Gathering by Environmental Scientists Will Yield Huge Increase in Network Traffic,

pp. 1 - 15

We interview Dave Hughes, principal investigator of two NSF wireless projects and owner of Old Colorado Communications on the state of the art of TCP/IP radios for wireless ISPs and for scientific environmental field research (his second major NSF project). He points out how a fall in prices and increase in capability has pushed the price of 10 Mbps radios to well under $1000 each.

He views Cisco's purchase of Aironet as a major move forward for the wireless spread spectrum industry however the impact of this will ultimately depend on how Cisco integrates Aironet products into its business line and whether it comes to see itself as a provider of connectivity solutions. Cisco has announced its own 45 megabit per second LMDS radio and is also bringing out a line of UNII band radios limited to five miles in transmission range.

These new radios can be remotely logged into and configured - something that greatly increases their utility for ISPs. ISPs meanwhile are going wireless. Breezecom claims ISP 500 customers in North America. Some 100 megabit per second radios are beginning to appear. One such is made by Proxim.

While line of sight problems are critical for these radios, Cisco is claiming to have overcome some of the drop off of communications caused by Fresnel Zone problems. Subtle physical differences found at each site can mar transmission capability. ISPs must have staff skilled in installation. The key business model is focused on connecting small business and will be increasingly focused on delivery of broadband services to residential customers who either don't want or can't get adequate DSL or cable connection.

Hughes discusses in detail the way that the E-rate increases by an order of magnitude the cost of connecting public schools to the Internet by prohibiting the schools from buying wireless equipment and requiring them instead to rent leased lines from the local exchange carrier year after year. Under the Texas subsidy, the monthly cost of the Internet connection is multiplied by 12 and to that figure is added the cost of hardware (DSU/CSU for example) needed for the phone connection. The total sum becomes the amount of subsidy for which the district is eligible. The district is then free to spend the money on the telco connection or on radios and a wireless connection. Wireless normally wins because the district after costing out the alternatives, normally finds that the cost of radios and plug in via radio to an ISP leaves them several thousand dollars left over.

At the 2.4 giga -hertz range most manufacturers make radios that operate at one tenth of a watt or 100 miliwatts rather than the allowed power of one watt. They do this because [such radios can be sold in Europe, and] it saves considerable money in the cost of manufacturing. Customer don¹t seem to mind because if their cheaper 100 miliwatt radio won¹t connect they can buy an inline amplifier for $750 and increase the power to a full watt. When this has been done and under ideal line of sight conditions the radios have successfully work over distances of up to seventy miles.

Given the lack of incentive for wireline telco¹s to bring broadband into rural America, the FCC is has issued a notice of inquiry on the subject of a Software Defined Radio (SDR). One where smart software controls the radio - its power, its frequency spread, and other technical characteristics. Major spectrum possibilities could be achieved simply by allowing the design and use of radios that could tune themselves in accordance with the operational reality of their surroundings.

Hughes points out that one way a user who lives close to an ISP pop can help to spread the benefits of wireless technology is to ascertain whether the ISP operator with allow him to plug a radio into the ISPs pop connection. If so after a site survey to determine that radios needed are available at reasonable price, the user can install the radios and plug one into the ISP¹s Ethernet.

To ensure that they can inter operate with each other, radios are being built to the 802.11 standard. As shown by Apple Computer in its Macintosh Airport Base Station and Airport card architecture, it is possible for someone to spend upwards of a thousand dollars to connect to an ISP with a point to multi-point multi megabit radio and then by placing an omni directional antenna on his roof to connect and relay as many as twenty neighbors using $100 PCMCIA radios plugged into their lap tops.

Of special benefit to ISPs selling wireless connectivity is the ability in software to throttle down to agreed upon rates, the speed of the connections that radios hey supply to their customers give. Also of significance is a new Ethernet PPP protocol that means they need not assign each customer their own IP number.

"Watch out UUNET, the frogs and the shrimp are coming - using your bandwidth" - Dave Hughes

Having laid out this general background, Hughes goes on to discuss aspects of his current NSF funded research on wireless and satellite connectivity for environmental research.

Hughes emphasizes Tachyon which has just come on line in the spring of 2000 with Concentric as its Internet providing partner as the first company to provide reasonably priced bi-directional satellite linkage to the internet. Tachyon provides a ground station that talks to the satellite for only $5,000. It sells bi-directional, true TCP/IP, at 2 megabits down and 256k up, for $2000 a month, or 300kbps down and 64k up, for $795.

Hughes describes the National Environmental Observatory Network as part of an expanding need for environmental data collection ‹ one that is so broad in its proposed scope that it looks as though only wireless data monitors may do an cost effective job of data gathering.

He talks about several projects in which he is working with environmental scientists whom he is surprised to find are generally unaware of the what improvement in wireless data gathering technology over the past five years make it possible to do.

The kinds of data gathering involved are quite diverse. For example the transmission from sensors the chemical composition of lake water in timed coordination with the overhead passes of a satellite. A second is the collection of light readings from a network sensors on a forest floor and the transmission of that data from each individual sensor a short distance to a data collector. The collector, in turn after perhaps encapsulating it in a tiny Linux data base, transmits it back to the research station and the Internet. A third is the capture of sound - in this case the call of the coqui frog from the rain forest of Puerto Rico. A fourth is the visual observation of shrimp transmitted in high bandwidth in real time. A possible fifth would include the use of partially buried sensors to grab, chemically analyze via tiny Linux and transmit the composition of the gasses of a prairie fire as the fire ignites the material around the sensor and passes over head. Other phenomena measured may be as diverse a earth quakes and hurricanes. From the point of view of Internet infrastructure this means yet another huge increase in bandwidth that will be generated and dumped on to backbones. Watch out UUNET, the frogs and the shrimp are coming - using your bandwidth.

Assessing the Current State of IP Telephony

Data and Voice Converging at the Protocol and Application Levels Telephony Becomes Tool to Be Activated from a Web Page While New Web Oriented Applications Make QoS Less an Issue

pp. 16 - 22

We interview Johnathon Rosenberg Chief Scientist of dynamicSoft. Rosenburg updates us on the outcome of the Megaco protocol which is designed to facilitate the communication of IP telephony gateways with SS7 switches in the Public Switched Telephone Network. The ITU successfully cooperated in the development of Megaco and in January 2000 held a meeting with in Geneva with a small handful of the top IETF leadership. [Editor's Note and not part of Rosenberg interview: Reports from attendees at the meeting indicate that for he first time ITU leadership was overtly eager to cooperate with he IETF in completing the protocols necessary to achieve converge of the voice and data networks. It was also interesting to note in view of the evolving relationship between the IETF and ICANN that Karen Rose, the number two person to Becky Burr also attended.]

Among the other protocols that Rosenberg describes are ENUM, PINT, SPIRIT and SCTP. Here the purpose begins to be to have a users computer link with the PSTN and initiate events there that formerly could have been done only through the network¹s intelligent switching system. While Quality of Service issues are still unresolved and are critical to those who would merely move voice telephony to the Internet, Rosenburg and dynamicsoft advocate a blending of internet and telephony capabilities. Rosenberg points out that with every new medium added to the mix the number of applications enabled grows exponentially. Thus voice telephony over the internet is nothing more than the transfer of a standard century year old service. Internet, video, and voice raises a host of new possibilities. Add the web to this and the opportunity for flexible and powerful productivity enhancing tools seems vast.

Using the SIP protocol dynamicSoft specializes in the provision of client server based tool kits that can be tailored to the needs of individual companies. Under these conditions it becomes possible to think in terms of where the arrival of specified kinds of email could trigger application with the telephone network on behalf of the user. Rosenberg sees a converged future where the only telephony that is worth having is web-enabled.

Commoditization of IP Bandwidth

Some Unresolved Technical and Structural Issues

Interview with Noel Chiappa Emphasizes Uncertainty About Ability of Routing System to Cope with Massive Changes

pp. 23 - 26

In Part 3 of an on going series we interview Noel Chiappa developer of the first multi-protocol router. The interview focused on issues involved in the development of a commodity exchange for bandwidth. While we speculate on the changes in the power structure of the Internet industry that this is likely to bring on, Noel points out that the thing most likely to slow the commoditization of bandwidth is "that Internet routing, isn¹t ready for it yet. It¹s all spit and bailing wire. . . . . Commoditization implies a tremendous amount of flexibility, a high rate of change in topology in the way things are connected together. It also requires a very robust infrastructure. That's one thing we certainly do not have. A lot of this stuff runs because there¹s a lot of smart people tweaking it all the time. And I'm not sure we have enough smart people." For example when one buys an OC3 from San Francisco to Atlanta to start at Sunday midnight and run for 24 hours one is going to want to be certain that the interfaces with the rest of the Internet adjust smoothly. To do this: "You want the routing to adjust very quickly so that you can use it and when it goes away, you want the routing to adjust back. And that's my question: can the routing really do it?" 'If you start dorking around with the topology of the network, are the protocols and everything else in it robust enough to deal with that kind of sort of brownian motion in the connectivity?"

Engineering issues; IPv6, NAT, IP Telephony Conundrum, Optical Cross Connect

pp. 27 - 31

On the IETF, NANOG, and Inet-Access lists the IPv6 versus IPv4 and NATed-end-points religious wars continued. It has become fairly clear that the inertia favoring the continued use of IPv4 is vast. A change over would be hugely expensive and no one seems to know quite how to incentivise network operators both on the back bones and end points to do it. Suggestions as extreme as have the federal government mandate a switch were heard. Apart from a desire a desire to salvage protocols like IPsec that were written with end-to-end network transparency in mind, there was the growing realization that many of perceived benefits of IP telephony could not be achieved IP address translation devices (NAT) boxes stood in the way. Richard Shockey put it bluntly 'The deconstruction of the PSTN will be impossible without the introduction of IPv6 and the elimination of NAT¹s in private networks." We present some highlights of the discussions.

Discontent with the policies of the routing registries is growing. Sean Doran presented a useful critique of the current policy. An excerpt ‹ This is a system which enforces a "one-seller" (the IANA), "one buyer" (one may return addresses to IANA only) model, which flies in the face of free markets, and perversely imposes costs upon consumers.

"Although I am happy that there are people trying to conserve IPv4 addresses and also encourage sensible routing announcements by providing not less than a sizeable aggregatable range to qualified buyers, the qualification process is tricky and gets trickier as one¹s business grows."

Finally on NANOG Tony Li had a few things to say about optical cross connects. "An optical cross connect, functioning along with IP routing and an intelligent traffic management system can be used to dynamically place bandwidth where it is needed, when it is needed. The optical plane provides an active provisioning fabric, allowing the network to be more efficient. And a more efficient network makes for a more profitable ISP."

ICANN Footnotes: What Some Others Are Saying about Arbitrary and Capricious Acts of ICANN, and Network Solutions

pp. 15, 22, 26, 31-33, 36

We continue to document some of the more egregious actions of ICANN and Network Solutions. As the first footnote we republish Milton Mueller¹s April 25th showing the ridiculous self-serving nature of Roger Cochetti¹s comments in favoring the introduction of two new to level domains. Mueller makes fours points and then goes on to under score each one in crisp detail.

"1. It would require the new (shop) registry to offer exactly the same terms and prices as the NSI com/net/org registry 2. It drastically limits the number of competing registries, for no good reason. 3. Its ownership arrangements would institutionalize cartel-like controls on the name space. 4. It would put NSI in charge of the back-office services of one the .banc registry, further reinforcing NSI¹s dominance of the domain name registry market."

The second footnote is about the Europeans who are beginning to discover ICANN. Some large corporate content forces there have mounted campaigns designed with the deluded hype that European participation in the ICANN at large membership process can give Europe a role in ICANN¹s regulation of the Internet. More information may be found at

For those who have watched how ICANN operates in ignoring the wishes of all its working groups the following passage seems just a tad misleading ³One thing is certain: the Internet is largely beyond the reach of national attempts to regulate it. A new culture of responsibility is developing. Self-regulation of the Net -Internet Governance -appears to represent a promising approach.²

The third footnote is a May 10th essay by Brett Fausett titled: "ICANN Board Violates Bylaws in Selection of Committee Members And Continues to Work in Closed, Secret Sessions". Brett explains how the ICANN Board in a meeting on April 6th, that in violation of ICANN¹s bylaws was not disclosed until May 9th, maneuvered the announcement of a technical elections committee and a nominating committee in such a way as to achieve a fait accompli and deprive the Internet community of all opportunity for input into committee membership.

We have authored the 4th footnote which presents some new information on the events of July 1999 at Network Solutions. We offer a hypothesis of why Jim Rutt broke his pledge made to the Internet in Rutt Report #1 on June 22, 1999.

The 5th Footnote documents NSI¹s security lapse May 9 when a user found a CGI script that allowed anyone to read any file on NSI's secure systems. the user turn the script into a url that pulled down the names of NSI's secure servers and the logins of their authorized users and log ins. We reprint the contents of what the script retrieved. p>