Tales of the Sausage Factory

More Funding For CUWiN=Good News For Open Source Mesh Networking

As regular readers probably know, I’m a huge fan of the Champaign Urbana Wireless Network (CUWiN) and its co-founder and project coordinator Sascha Meinrath. I was therefore ecstatic to hear that CUWiN
received a grant from the National Science Foundation for $500,000.

I have pushed for support for CUWiN for years as one of the great hopes for open source mesh networking using unlicensed spectrum. To unpack that a little from geek speak, it means using non-proprietary code to create nodes that use unlicensed spectrum to form a network by speaking to each other rather than sending a signal point-to-point from a central “hub” (“hub-and-spoke”). You can find a good illustration of the difference between mesh and hub-and-spoke (and good general introduction to community wireless) on this Free Press page.

CUWiN has spent years developing useful open source software and other tools designed to make wireless networks cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to implement in multiple communities and environments. CUWiN software and methods have created networks in Ghanna, the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Champaign and Urbana, and the San Diego Tribal Digital Village in San Diego County. Their software is freely available and downloadable fromtheir website.
People who care about creating ubiquitous and affordable wireless broadband around the world should be throwing money at CUWiN hand over fist. Sadly, as with so many good and desperately needed projects, CUWiN has lived starved for funds and hand to mouth.

The NSF grant gives CUWiN much needed money to continue and expand its good work. I’m also hopeful that “money follows money” as they say in the grant world. With this level of support from NSF, I hope CUWiN finds it easier to open doors at other foundations and grant sources.

I reprint the CUWiN press release about the grant below.

Stay tuned . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Yet Another Amazing Esme Conference Comes To a Close

Sorry to go dark for so long. As future posts will explain, it’s been a busy time and likely to get busier.

One thing keeping me busy has been my presence here at Esme’s latest conference on muniwireless broadband. In addition to time with the fabulous Esme herself a number of very cool people are also here.

The conference has morphed quite a bit since I attended the first one below. My brief reflections (and what it means for the muniwireless industry generally) below.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Quick Take on FCC 3650-3700

The FCC decided the 3650-3700 Order today. You can find a link on the FCC Home page.

As is customary, the Order is not yet released, so we have only the press release to go on.

My first take is below. I know a lot of people are going to be upset that it requires licensing, but it is not a “licensed” regime anymore than a truly “unlicensed” regime. We need to keep an open mind and wait for the actual order to come out.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: UPDATE on 3650-3700 MHz

I have been making calls today. The situation is moving in a more favorable direction. The relevant decision makers are getting our emails and see broad popular support for mesh as well as high-power.

Key issues on which decisions have not yet been made and where comments may prove helpful:

1) Allowing low power mobile devices in the band is critical to expanding mesh.

2) Low power mesh requires non-exclusivity and cheap equipment. The Commission should not impose overly conservative interference protection criteria that drive up price. Flexibility has been critical to the success of unlicensed as a networking solution.

3) Mesh devices must be allowed to communicate with each other in a peer-to-peer fashion, rather than requiring mesh devices to communicate with a high power base station.

4) Any system of licensing or registration must be non-exclusive; the Commission must not create a “first in time, first in right” licensing systems.

Remember, things are turning our way, but your comments are still needed to build a record to counter Intel and others. The Proceeding Number is 04-151. You can file comments by going here.

Stay tuned . . .

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