Tag Archives | Wi-Fi

You Have a Strange Definition of “Unlimited,” Republic Wireless

A stealthy startup named Republic Wireless has launched, based on a concept that’s enough to grab anyone’s attention, at least momentarily: unlimited voice, data, and texting for $19 a month. The company says it’s going to make that possible by routing as much stuff as possible over Wi-Fi networks, and utilizing Sprint’s cellular network where necessary.

There are several catches. For one thing, Republic will only support one phone at first: LG’s Android-based Optimus, running Republic’s custom software. (The first-month fee of $199 gets you the Optimus.) For another, the service won’t offer international calling for now. Republic cheerfully concedes these points.

But there’s another gotcha which the company’s site tapdances around: It claims it’s offering unlimited service, but also says that it’s possible to use the service in a manner that isn’t “reasonable” and which violates a “fair use threshold.”

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Happy Wi-Fi Day!

Qualcomm Atheros created this art to celebrate 802.11 day, a holiday it invented.

I bet you didn’t know it, but today is 802.11 day. (I didn’t know it either until a PR person for Qualcomm Atheros–the Qualcomm division formed after Qualcomm acquired Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros–e-mailed me.) Not because of any scientific milestone involved in creating the IEEE standard more commonly known as Wi-Fi, but because, well, it’s really 8.02.11. Get it?

The folks at Qualcomm Atheros seized upon the tech equivalent of a bad pun to update a group of journalists about what’s next for the popular connectivity technology–and although the excuse may have been lame, what they had to say was interesting. The last big upgrade, 802.11n, delivered speeds on the order of 100mbps Ethernet, so the standard now in the works is going for the next speed hurdle–1 gigabit.

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Wi-Fi Alliance To Certify Hotspots

How many hotspots do you use on a regular or semi-regular basis? At this point in my wanderings I’ve amassed so many Wi-Fi hotspot log-ins that I don’t really remember them all–to the point where I try to create new accounts for services that I already have patronized. And when I’m in an area with multiple hotspots, I’m not always sure which one I want to hop on. Is one going to cost me more than another?

Hang in there–the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on a cure for hotspot overload. Sometime in the first half of next year, if the current timetable stands, the Alliance–the trade group that certifies Wi-Fi networking gear from different vendors for interoperability–will start certifying hotspots, along with the devices that access them.

Among the benefits of the program for consumers will be streamlined network discovery, account setup and login: Your device will automatically figure out which hotspots you already have accounts with and log you in based on your preferences. Certification will also require use of the strongest available Wi-Fi encryption, WPA2.

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Twitter and Southwest Need to Check Their Security

At every available opportunity, I partake in airborne WiFi services. Yeah, I know public wireless isn’t the most secure form of connectivity. But, at the same time, I haven’t been bothered to set up a personal tunnel. And I’ll do just about anything to pass the time on a cross country flight… as I did when returning from CES last week. Southwest’s wireless service runs a mere $5 during testing and linking up on my LAS>BWI flight (3140, 1/8) was a no brainer – especially as I hadn’t loaded up my iPhone with content and my Kindle was left at home.

Unfortunately, there’s something not quite right with their Internet connection in relation to Twitter. As you can see, I wasn’t the only one in my account:

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Does Free Wi-Fi=Crummy Wi-Fi?

I’m grateful for the Google Chrome promotion that involves free Wi-Fi service on several airlines this holiday season. But when I flew between San Francisco and Boston last week, I noticed that the free Wi-Fi on Virgin America wasn’t as good as for-pay Wi-Fi I’m accustomed to–I kept getting disconnected. Gizmodo’s Jason Chen theorizes that the Gogo in-flight Internet service isn’t prepared to deal with the onslaught of freebie lovers.

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Make Yourself Invisible to Wi-Fi Hackers

You’re at Starbucks, busy working on your Facebook page. Bad news: The guy at the next table is a hacker, and he’s also working on your Facebook page. Sit tight, I have a few ways for you to make yourself invisible to hackers.

One Very Serious Threat

There’s a pervasive, serious Facebook and Twitter exploit that leaves you wide open to any and every hacker who can download a simple-to-use, free tool called Firesheep. It’s a threat if you’re using an unsecured, public Wi-Fi network, typically available at an Internet cafe, airport, hotel, or RV campground.

Last week TechBite paid subscribers got the first dispatch about this in the Extra newsletter; here’s a more detailed version.

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Wi-Fi Direct Hits Smartphones, Samsung Galaxy S

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced just over a week ago that it would begin certifying products under the new Wi-Fi Direct standard. Now, according to the organization’s own certification list, the first smartphone has qualified for new point-to-point Wi-Fi communications. The Samsung GT-I9000, aka the Galaxy S, received Wi-Fi Direct certification on November 1st. It’s eighth in a list of certified devices, but the first smartphone to make the cut. As a reminder, Wi-Fi Direct facilitates device-to-device wireless 802.11 communication without requiring a wireless access point or going out to the web. Best of all, only one device has to be Wi-Fi Direct certified to enable wireless networking with any other Wi-Fi gadget. That means Galaxy S owners will, in theory, be able to share photos, music, video, and other files over a localized network. It’s like Bluetooth, only you probably have a few more Wi-Fi devices lying around.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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The End of In-Flight Wi-Fi? Oh, Come On

Aircraft bomb finds may spell end for in-flight Wi-Fi.” That’s the headline on a New Scientist story about last week’s discovery of bombs packed into laser-printer cartridges which were sent from Yemen and apparently intended to blow up airplanes. The point of the story is that terrorists might use in-flight Wi-Fi to communicate from the ground with a cell phone that had been rigged to trigger a bomb aboard a plane, a possibility so risky that it might lead to the abolishing of in-flight Wi-Fi, period.

The article doesn’t really live up to the headline: The closest it gets to evidence that Wi-Fi “may” be banned is a reference to an alarmed explosives expert saying it might be too dangerous.

Seems like a ludicrous overreaction to me. The in-air Wi-Fi I’ve used–Gogo–requires the user to log in and enter a CAPTCHA, and while I don’t discount the possibility of terrorists being smart enough to build a Wi-Fi-based bomb triggering device that can autonomously log into an in-flight network designed to be accessed by humans, it seems like it would require an awful lot of work on their part. Wouldn’t a plain old-fashioned timer produce much the same results with far less effort and technical knowledge required, and less likelihood that the device would fail or be detected?

Remember when a bunch of news organizations suggested that laptops might be banned from airplanes, period? Let’s hope this theory is just as solid as that one…