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The Next Step Towards Free Internet and True Open Source

By winthrop.polk ·
This discussion started as a question here:
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Okay, so the new mission of this discussion is to set up a plan to provide practically free internet to the world or to, at a minimum, force ISPs to lower there price to a much lower level which will still be profitable for them (figure $7/month for high speed).
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I think we, as a community of technical experts, can accomplish this. Here is my plan, open for discussion.
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We need to first assume that we will not be able to or even allowed to run any lines across the country. We have to assume the entire communications grid is owned by the telcos and we will have to rent bandwidth from them to connect to all the various sites. But we really only require one fast connection and a wireless system per area. This is the plan on how to get there.
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Step 1: everyone turn off your security features on your home wireless network. Let people access the internet through your line, it's not illegal if you allow them to and you won't be held responsible for their actions. Configure your system to give much higher priority to your computers than everyone else?s, that way you don't experience performance issues but still provide full speed to users when your line is not in use, which is probably the majority of the day.
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Step 2: Local communities need to set up a local infrastructure. New apartments, new neighborhoods, and other local communities should spend some money on a tower and powerful high-speed wireless system to provide free internet to there local communities (figure a 1 mile radius reliable broadcast). The homeowners group or similar organizations could then spend some money for the entire community for one high-speed connection. Security should be disabled at this access point, ideally.
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Step 3: IT fellows should create a freeware program (later to be integrated into windows and OSx) that allows you to dynamically send and receive packets on multiple connections. It needs to detect the networks and determine quickly what routes to take for a given packet.
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I don't know if anyone is familiar with Ham radio, but a lot of the ham repeaters already have this setup. We just need to expand it past the hobbyists. There are allot of free long range repeaters out there, every town has at least one. We need to expand all of these to allow internet traffic, paid for by donations, state/town contributions and such. Home wireless cards will probably require an amplifier and may require you to mount your antenna on your roof.
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I would effectively call this new free global wireless network fgw: free global wireless. In the long run it will take on a life of its own, perhaps creating the breading grounds for a new independent internet.

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winthorp, Dr. Dij

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Dr. Dij also left out the ...

was implying your plan is a fantasy. HAL and I were just adding out contribution to the lunacy.

Incidentally, you can stop peer mailing me on this subject. If a topic begins on a discussion, that's the only place I will discuss it. To do so via private e-mail deprives other readers of the full discussion.

Oh, and bulletin boards didn't cost much more to run than a stand-alone computer with it's own incoming phone line, and they weren't all free.

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deja vu

by lucasmarin In reply to OK I didn't understand a ...

you guys making this story up, i dont know... it reminds me of school, when they thaught us how people were mocking columbus cristofol, when he said the world was round.
this type of discussion always arise when someone try to make things better, or to expand knowledge to the unknown... i wish everybody believed for real that "everything is possible".

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"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The Next Step Towards Fre ...

How did you calculate your $7 per month figure for ISP profitability?

"Step 1: everyone turn off your security features on your home wireless network. Let people access the internet through your line, it's not illegal ..."

Ooo-kay. First, that's a bad idea because of the possible security threat to your own systems. Second, it may well be illegal because it probably violates your terms of service agreement with your ISP. Third, that may make it free for my neighbors, but I'm stuck paying the bill for those deadbeats. What's in it for me, besides the privilege of competing with them for bandwidth?

"Step 2: Local communities need to set up a local infrastructure. New apartments, new naborhoods, and other local communities should spend a few thousand dollars on a tower and powerfull highspeed wireless system to provide free internet to there local communities (figure a 1 mile radius reliable transmition)."

A few thousand dollars won't pay for the hardware to cover a 1 mile radius, that's for sure. The tower alone will cost far more than that, and that's without any communications equipment. Then there's the question of who's going to pay for the maintenance and support of this infrastructure. If it's free, where's the maintenance funding coming from? Also, people are screaming now about too many cell towers and wind power towers; you're never going to get agreement to drop one down every square mile.

"The homeowners group or similar organizations could then spend, say, $300 a month..."

That's $3600 a year; a big chunk of money for many homeowner groups. Also, you're just shifting the individual's cost from reducing their bill from an ISP to increasing their dues to the HOA.

"I would effectively call this new free global wireless network..."

What's free about it? I'm either paying for it through my homeowner's dues or through municipal taxes.

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Look

by winthrop.polk In reply to "There ain't no such thin ...

There are a lot of reasons for doing this. Look, the internet is getting more and more regulated and most of us are aware that traffic is scanned for "terrorist activity". Who knows what they are really scanning for?

I pulled the $7 out of my ...
The point is the prices for the services are practically identical, but the means of providing the service is different; leading me to believe price fixing is occurring.

Another option would be to do this via satellite. Yeah yeah, funding is a problem but this is still doable. I think it costs around $10 million to put a satellite in orbit.

Look, I just think that a lot of these things should be made free to the public for the good of the country as a whole. I do not think that toll roads should be allowed to exist. I think healthcare should be relatively free, paid for by taxes, like most other developed nations do. I also think that state universities should be free. I don't want to eliminate capitalism, I just want it to either be regulated for the protection of the country, or we can do it ourselves, without the middle men.

You say it may violate the terms of service; I disagree. I don't know about everyone else, but when I signed up for high speed comcast it was a verbal agreement which didn't specify number of users, only bandwidth usable. So in effect, when your not using it your still paying for it so why not let others use it instead of giving AT&T and comcast free profit.

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What's your definition of 'free'?

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Look

"I just think that a lot of these things should be made free to the public for the good of the country as a whole. I do not think that toll roads should be allowed to exist. I think healthcare should be relatively free, paid for by taxes, like most other developed nations do. I also think that state universities should be free."

If something is paid for by taxes, it isn't free. Believe it or not, that money the government spends comes out of our pockets! Really, I'm not joking. Shocking, but true.

If we get rid of toll roads and make universities free, who's going to pay to have the road maintained and the salaries of the university staff? These things have to be paid for, whether directly by the user (toll road drivers, college attendees), indirectly by taxes (spreading the cost across all taxpayers whether they use the service or not), or some combination of the two.

Nothing in your plan as described above is free. Free software is one thing. Anybody with a cheap computer and a free compiler can write code with almost no overhead costs. Collaboration with others is almost free; if one has to one can swap code around on physical media via snail mail. Free physical infrastructure is another matter entirely. Someone has to pay for those towers, access points, routers, etc, the labor to install them, the parts and labor to maintain them, insurance on the towers, the legal staff to file the necessary paperwork to erect the towers and fight the inevitable protests, etc. You're not going to persuade tower manufacturers, installers, network technicians, environmental experts, lawyers, insurers, etc. to do all this out of the goodness of their hearts.

The government doesn't currently provide water or sewer for free, and they're far more essential to life than an Internet connection. EXACTLY how do you propose to fund your project?

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Relatively free means

by winthrop.polk In reply to What's your definition of ...

You state the obvious; I am looking for the less obvious. Yes, if something is paid for by taxes it isn't free, but it is relatively free. By free, I mean that no profit will be made by the controlling entity, or, a "fair" profit can be made at best, not a ridiculous profit. The government doesn't "directly" make money on the construction or use of roads. Companies have somehow been allowed to construct roads and maintain ownership for the purpose of making a ridiculously large profit for many many years where the government could have provided it. In comparing a company own toll road with a government owned toll road, yes I consider the government owned road "relatively free".

As related to state universities, they are currently supposed to be relatively free in that they should not be making a profit. If there ever is a profit, it should but rarely does go to new building, tuition reduction, etc. I don't think there is anything more important for our nations than education, and people have limited funds and the price is rising fast.

In terms of physical structures, we don't need much more than is already in existence. Like I said, every town has ham towers put up by clubs and such. These organizations exist mainly to learn about electronics and a number of these clubs have already experimented with the technology. As each area would decide to implement a plan like this, they would most likely contact the local ham club and ask to run some equipment to their tower (Ethernet connection, signal converter, transmitter, and antenna). The ham club would probably say, "no, but what a great idea, we will implement it for you if you help with the cost". Like I said, eventually, after many years, most towns will end up with free wireless to anyone who has the proper higher powered equipment.

This isn't intended to be an instant Manhattan project. It's intended to be a design guide for local communities which will eventually result in sufficient numbers to start to prompt new neighborhood and apartment communities to implement similar systems to add a bonus to a customer?s selection process (my apartment currently gives free water and sewer, even though I know it is added into the cost of rent; but if I use it a lot, yes I can get a certain amount for free [not relative]). If the hobbyists get the system big and popular enough, I think this will occur; similar to the way starbucks and other companies provide free wireless today to attract customers. All I am really saying is that this existing system of wireless networks needs to be amplified to cover a larger area, first by hobbyists, then, eventually, by community groups and maybe even city groups.

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If you expect to pitch this idea any further,

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Relatively free means

you need to stop using the word 'free' as a synonym for 'non-profit'. Your use of the word does not match what the rest of English speaking America has defined. It doesn't even match the definition of the word as used by the open source software community.

There's nothing free about what you're discussing. You're merely shifting the costs around and spreading them over time. Somebody somewhere is paying for it. Good luck rounding up all those Samaritans you think are going to do all this work for you.

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Free means free...

by winthrop.polk In reply to If you expect to pitch th ...

Starbucks doesn't provide non-for-profit wireless, they provide free wireless according to there signs. I am only proposing to do the same on a larger scale. Others including homeowners, ham operators and eventually communities and cities should do the same and if they do and the aforementioned software package works anyone will be able to access the internet from anywhere for free. Yes, if you want a dedicated line run to your house for a variety of reasons you will still have to pay for it through your ISP. But this system will be competition for the ISPs and they will be force to lower there price. If you?re a good person you will leave your wireless gateway open for others to use and secure it when you need the bandwidth or give your computers priority. I have a wireless system to use with my laptop which I leave open for other apartment owners to use as they like. There have been as many as 5 people on my network using it at one time and as most of you know there are plenty of other open wireless networks in every community. It's not nor will it ever be illegal to transmit or receive signals wireless, so long as you use free legal portions of the spectrum. It is however illegal to break the password of a secure wireless system, which I am not condoning by any means. In terms of security, you don?t need to protect the internet, just your computer. The only security provided with wireless transceivers is password protection, which isn?t anything special, and can be implemented on your local network rather than the wireless network which should be your access point to the internet as well.

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Starbucks doesn't provide 'free' wireless.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Free means free...

"Starbucks ... provide free wireless according to there signs."

SIGNS LIE. Starbucks gets a bill from their ISP, divides that bill by the number of cups of coffee they sell each month, and adds those pennies to the cost of every cup. Everyone who buys a cup of coffee pays for that Internet access connection. It's included in the cost of the coffee whether you use the service or not. If you don't buy coffee, others are paying for the service for you. Econ 101.

"Others including homeowners, ham operators and eventually communities and cities should do the same on a larger scale."

Then who do you propose they charge, or do you suggest they pay for all this infrastructure out of their own pockets? They don't have customers like Starbucks does, so the money is going to have to come from somewhere. Sooner or later this wireless system you're proposing is going to tie into wire somewhere; who's paying for that connection?

"If you?re a good person you will leave your wireless gateway open for others to use and secure it when you need the bandwidth or give your computers priority."

Then, like the Starbucks customers who pay for the coffee, you're subsidizing those who use the wireless connection without making a purchase. In your book that makes you 'good'; in mine it makes you a naive fool. You may be willing to pay the bill for others, but I'm not. If my neighbor's want to use my wireless connection, they can damn well split the cost with me. I manage a fantasy racing league that costs about $95 a year to run, a lot less than your annual ISP connection. If you think I don't pass those costs on to the players, or think I personally absorb the minimal $5 annual charge for even one of them, you're wrong.

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RE : If you?re a good person you will leave your wireless gateway open

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Free means free...

Only a Stark Raving Lunatic would consider doing something like this willingly.

You are leaving yourself open to all sorts of Legal Problems arising and no way to defend yourself when a Prosecution is Launched as you are at the very least an Accessory to any Crime committed. In the Case of Suspected Terror Activity the Authorities will jump on you from great heights quite quickly and because of what you are doing you are admitting Guilt before any Investigation is Launched.

At the very least you are Supporting Terrorists or Child Molesters nice thought there isn't it? But it's true no matter what happens by doing this you have no control who uses your ISP or what is downloaded or transmitted. You could have been responsible for allowing certain people to communicate and or plan their intentions to commit Acts of Terrorism in posting White Powder in the Postal Service to disrupt your country or even hijack aircraft and fly them into buildings.

By leaving WiFi Points open you have No Control over what it is used for but all the responsibility when something wrong happens.

I hope you enjoy the prospect of long term Impressment and Life Long Requirements of Reporting your activities to Police. Not to mention a Life Long Ban from using Computer Technology.

Col

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