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[Ham-80211] Municipal WiFi Meets Free WiFi

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Fri Aug 26 13:22:24 UTC 2005

Nick, while that statement appears to be at least in opposition to FCC 
rules, it makes sense when I put my University hat on.  We have to 
provide wireless services to students, faculty and staff (pretty much 
prioritized) or they (or their parents, and I hate it when faculty's 
parents do this) complain to the highest echelons of the University 
administration.  Administration then asks us why we're not providing a 
service "everyone" thinks is a right (natural or constitutional). 
Telling them that the complaint is caused by a student's ad hoc 
installation of a WiFi AP is more information than they want, and they 
expect us to fix it.

 From another perspective, we use a VPN system to safeguard all users' 
data integrity, and ad hoc wireless APs don't usually employ this sort 
of thing. While you might make an informed decision to not use this form 
of encryption to protect data (and I can make a pretty good argument 
that WEp/WEPA or any of the other forms are really not effective) if 
your credit card gets compromised, likely someone will complain that the 
Campus failed to protect them from the scammers.

Finally, we see plenty of virii, worms and trojans as students return to 
campus and we scan and isolate infected wireless-connected computers... 
and wired, for that matter... rather than letting them spew junk across 
the the 'Net.  It's harder to do that on an isolated basis when we have 
to deal with ad hoc installations.

Hope this helps.

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
> service."
> 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
> cases?  
> Nick
> -----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.
> -tjs
> - - - - - - - - -
> 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
> http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_documen
> t=6518122214
> o	Continental's Supplement to the Original Petition
> http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_documen
> t=6518122209
> o	Airports Council International-North America Motion for Extension
> 	of Filing Deadline
> http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_documen
> t=6518143242
> 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
> investments.
> -tjs
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Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020
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Office: 903A Eller Bldg, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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