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[Ham-80211] Municipal WiFi Meets Free WiFi]

Drew drew at dr3w.com
Thu Aug 25 21:36:10 UTC 2005

Typically the concern over installing a Wi-Fi device isn't because of

property rights, it's concern over extending the existing network into 
an uncontrolled space. University IT groups (and most business IT 
groups) don't think of the 'physical layer' of Wi-Fi as radio amateurs 
do. Their primary concern is network security.
Now, if a student installs an access point that connects solely to their 
personal network, and doesn't route to the campus network, it should be 
'OK'. That is, unless, the student's access point is causing harmful 
interference to the school's incumbent wireless network. Part 15 rules 
apply, here.
As far as Part 97 rules apply, I believe that since your station would 
be licensed, they cannot cause any harmful interference to your station, 
and must shut down if they do. However, using Part 97 rules in your own 
Wi-Fi network excludes the use of any wireless security or encryption, 
short of MAC address filtering (please, correct me if my assumption is 

James Kearney, KC7YJJ

Nick Kotch wrote:

>To me this brings up an interesting point, while I agree that it's silly for
>Massport to demand Continental to remove it's AP I can some what see that
>they may have a case if Massport owns the property there and therefore can
>control what gets installed there. 
>Is a group/company/etc able to keep someone from installing an unlicensed
>radio device on their property?  
>At the university I attend they have a campus wide wireless network that the
>on campus computing group manages and ties into the wired network and
>internet.  On their access page it sounds like any wireless devices have to
>registered with them and that, for example, a student can't just put in an
>access point in their dorm room.  An excerpt from their policy says, 
>	"...is sole owner of the unlicensed frequencies on campus, to
>prevent 	interference, safeguard University resources, and ensure
>I guess a group has the right to restrict the actual devices from being used
>on their property but I don't see how they can have any sort of say over the
>actual frequencies. 
>How would say a ham with an AP operating under part 97 be affected in these
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ham-80211-bounces at lists.tapr.org
>[mailto:ham-80211-bounces at lists.tapr.org] On Behalf Of Timothy J. Salo
>Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 4:01 PM
>To: ham-80211 at lists.tapr.org
>Subject: [Ham-80211] Municipal WiFi Meets Free WiFi
>I wrote this for a local mail list, but you may get a laugh out of it.
>- - - - - - - - -
>Municipal WiFi Meets Free WiFi
>Some of you may find a recent collision between municipal WiFi and
>free WiFi interesting.
>The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), which contracted
>with a company to provide for-fee WiFi service at Logan Airport,
>has demanded that Continental Airlines remove its free WiFi
>access point from the Continental lounge.  Continental has asked
>the FCC to rule that Massport doesn't have the authority to demand
>that Continental remove its free WiFi access point.
>The FCC's public notice is available at:
>	http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-2213A1.pdf
>You can search for submitted comments under Docket Number 05-247.
>(Go to the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System, ECFS, home page
>at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/ and click on "Search for Filed
>Comments".  Enter "05-247" in the Proceeding field.)
>Unfortunately, a couple of thousand users of Continental's free WiFi
>service have submitted comments, so you have to wade through a pile
>of "save our free WiFi" comments to find the interesting ones.  About
>three interesting documents have been submitted so far:
>o	Continental's Original Petition
>o	Continental's Supplement to the Original Petition
>o	Airports Council International-North America Motion for Extension
>	of Filing Deadline
>I suspect that additional interesting comments, if any, will to be
>submitted at the last minute.
>First, if I might observe.
>Based on the record, both Continental and Massport are using
>unlicensed equipment regulated under Part 15 of FCC regulations
>(CFR Title 47), namely WiFi equipment.  Section 15.5 includes:
>	(b) Operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental 
>	radiator is subject to the conditions that no harmful
>	interference is caused and that interference must be accepted
>	that may be caused by the operation of an authorized radio
>	station, by another intentional or unintentional radiator,
>	by industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) equipment, or
>	by an incidental radiator
>In short, unlicensed devices such as WiFi equipment enjoy no
>regulatory protection from interference, and must be shut down
>if they interfere with any licensed service.
>Now, if I might editorialize.
>First, Massport, in a July 5th letter attached to Continental's original
>filing, said:
>	"... There are various safety and security wireless applications
>	currently deployed over the WiFi backbone throughout the
>	terminal area of Logan Airport, including critical public safety
>	communications by the State Police, the Transportation Security
>	Administration, and the Authority.  Given the potential thread
>	to public safety caused by Continental's unauthorized and
>	unlawful wireless communications, ..."
>So, Massport is using unlicensed WiFi devices, which must accept
>harmful interference, to transport public safety information.
>In my opinion, it is probably irresponsible to use a WiFi network
>(in an uncontrolled environment) for safety-critical information.
>(By "uncontrolled" I mean locations where others can install
>Part 15 equipment, such as outside.  Concrete/steel structures
>attenuate the frequencies used by WiFi such that equipment outside
>of your building probably won't adversely affect your WiFi equipment
>inside your building.) Likewise, including public safety traffic as
>a justification for municipal WiFi networks is risky (e.g., I will
>likely remind you about harmful interference and Part 15 unlicensed
>WiFi equipment.)
>Second, by all appearances, Massport is trying to suppress potential
>competition.  Of course, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise.
>Municipalities haven't complained about benefiting from monopolies
>in the past.  I find it ironic that some advocates of municipally-owned
>networks are hesitant to remind us that these same municipalities
>were instrumental in creating the existing cable and phone
>monopolies.  So, claiming that municipal WiFi systems will help
>fight existing monopolies may also be a bit risky, (e.g., because
>I will remind you that municipalities seem to like to create
>and protect monopolies).
>Having said all that, I am not necessarily opposed to municipal
>investments in broadband infrastructure or services.  I simply
>expect that any proposal include a well-articulated and widely
>accepted set of objectives and detail about the expected
>benefits, costs, and risks.  Any proposal ought to contain
>enough information that municipal investments in broadband
>can reasonably be traded off against alternative municipal
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