Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Wireless

328 words

A few years back wireless networking was all new, shiny and exciting. By now – even in mildly urban areas – it appears to be ubiquitous. Wherever there are houses nearby, your chance of seeing a wireless network on your computer is pretty good.

This means that we’re pretty close to having effortless network coverage everywhere. If it weren’t for the nasty thing that is network security. Here in Germany people seem to be quite keen on having encryption for their network turned on and DSL companies even ship their wireless base stations with WEP enabled by default. This means that despite the network technically being everywhere you can’t use it as a passer-by.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the security of my network connections – but once there are a big number of wireless base stations deployed, all of which are using the same networking infrastructure (marketed by different companies) in the background, turning the whole network into a quasi-public one starts looking like a good idea. Very few people will be needing the full bandwidth of their DSL connection and it’d really be nice if you could just walk up to any wireless network you happen to stumble on, use the same authentication as on your own DSL connection at home and be on-line. Likewise, other people could use your connection with their own passwords when passing by your place.

My impression is that the technology you’d need for that to work and to be reasonably secure shouldn’t be vastly more complicated than what we’re having today. It’d just need some extra co-ordinated management. But of course we’re not going to see that as it’d require different companies to work together on something non-trivial for the benefit of their customers. A shame… and thus we’ll have to go on looking for those few people who are nice/dumb enough to leave their networks open if we want to quickly send an e-mail while away from home…

Many secure wireless networks and a single open one

February 19, 2006, 1:11

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