Sebastopol, CA--No cords, no fiber optics, no cables, no cable
networks: creating a connected online community is now freer than ever,
literally. Consumer demand is growing for high bandwidth Internet
access, most commonly offered by ISPs (Internet service providers)--for
a price. Parallel to this demand is the growing popularity of wireless
community networks powered by 802.11b technology, which pairs speedy
Internet access with cheap, reliable equipment for a compelling
alternative to ISPs. Wireless community networks are especially
appealing to communities on a budget, such as schools and small
businesses, and to individuals in an area where land-based Internet
access simply isn't available.
Wireless Community Networks by Rob Flickenger (O'Reilly &
Associates, US $24.95) answers the first big question those
contemplating creating a wireless community network ask: how? "For the
cost of hardware and a bit of careful planning, large amounts of
information can now be sent for miles at very little cost, without ever
involving a telephone or cable company," Flickenger asserts. The book
details real-world networking examples, from selecting appropriate
equipment and finding likely antenna sites to the general problem of
outdoor networking. (One of Flickenger's tips: Lay your antennas in the
spring. A well-placed antenna in the winter may disappoint in April
when the trees are blooming, which can deflect and drop your signal.)
He also includes sample configuration files, network layout diagrams,
even topographical maps.
Flickenger has worked with 802.11b since its public release, and
Wireless Community Networks is the only community networking
book that covers 802.11b, which is emerging as a key wireless
technology. "There's much more to 802.11b spec than that teeny little
'b' indicates," Flickenger remarks. "802.11b is not just the downstairs
apartment of 802.11; it's a whole new world of wireless possibilities."
802.11b, also known as WiFi (wireless fidelity) or WLAN (wireless LAN),
uses an unlicensed frequency employed by other devices such as
microwave ovens and cordless phones--a frequency anyone can use for
Through his humor and enthusiasm, Flickenger not only provides a
blueprint to setting up wireless community networks, but prods the
reader into creating an individual definition of "community." Notes
Flickenger in his preface, "This book is intended to get you thinking
about what is involved in getting people in your community connected."
weblogs by author Rob Flickenger, including NoCatAuth:
Authentication for Wireless Networks and 802.11b Tips, Tricks, and
3, Network Layout, is available free online.
More information about
the book, including Table of Contents, index, author biography,
A cover graphic in jpeg format.
Information on the O'Reilly Emerging
featuring Rob Flickenger and wireless technology information.
Wireless Community Networks
By Rob Flickenger
ISBN 0-596-00204-1, 125 pages, $24.95 (US)