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Apple's Steve Jobs had vision of building an open Wi-Fi utopia

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have been unhappy with the high cost and slow speed of mobile data networks, and hoped to solve the problem by convincing consumers and businesses to share their high-speed Internet connections via free and open "guest" Wi-Fi networks.




Jobs planned a "sort of consortium" of technology companies and network manufacturers to implement his idea, according to Re/code's Walt Mossberg. Owners of any Wi-Fi-connected device could then take advantage of those hotspots, rather than using cellular modems or being forced to pay to connect.

As noted by Mossberg, a number of firms -- mainly telecommunications providers -- have since implemented a similar idea. Comcast offers such an option with its home routers in the U.S., while European and Asian telecoms including Three, Fon, Iliad, and others offer customers free Wi-Fi roaming in their respective geographies.

Apple, for its part, did build a "guest network" option into its AirPort series of internet routers. According to the company, a user's "primary network, including [their] printer, attached drives, or other devices remains secure" despite the presence of the guest network.

Some other manufacturers have followed suit, and the Open Wireless Movement -- backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and others -- has released special firmware designed to allow users of some consumer routers lacking the feature to enable it.

According to that group, offloading data transfer from mobile networks to their Wi-Fi cousins would bring a number of benefits. In addition to increasing the availability of internet access to groups that may not be able to afford it and enabling new, innovative technologies that require high-bandwidth connections, it would make much more efficient use of the finite amount of available wireless spectrum.
post #2 of 67
Wireless Utopia... but i imagine it would often turn into the guy next door deciding he didn't need service of his own.
Edited by CustomTB - 8/5/14 at 8:35am
post #3 of 67
Given the laws in place to "protect [us] from terrorism" in many western countries, which basically requires you to be able to identify anyone who connects to your network and keep logs for up to 5 years... DOA, wasn't it? Especially since MAC adresses can be spoofed/software reset.

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post #4 of 67

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

post #5 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
 

This is not my area of expertise, but I was under the impression that 'no password' meant that the data was not encrypted. I always use my cell connection instead of free open wifi because you can't really trust what the owners of the wifi or rogue hacker packet sniffers are up to.

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post #6 of 67
This is a nice vision - for a world without bad guys.
post #7 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

Given the laws in place to "protect [us] from terrorism" in many western countries, which basically requires you to be able to identify anyone who connects to your network and keep logs for up to 5 years... DOA, wasn't it? Especially since MAC adresses can be spoofed/software reset.

I haven't seen this requirement in the western country I live in and I have no way to provide this information if someone asked me. My Airport Extreme lists wireless clients but doesn't keep a log, at least not when running the current version of Airport Utility. 

post #8 of 67
Great idea. But as a first step Apple should do done supporting of the whole fiber game. Perhaps with public hotspots in utility boxes or such. Make sharing your house line a later step

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

This is not my area of expertise, but I was under the impression that 'no password' meant that the data was not encrypted. I always use my cell connection instead of free open wifi because you can't really trust what the owners of the wifi or rogue hacker packet sniffers are up to.

I just checked and you're right. You can set encryption (WPA/WPA2) but these need a password. Of course, it wouldn't take much publicity to get people to use a standard password. This means a user would still have to enter the password for every password-protected guest network but maybe that could be automated. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even if a hacker makes the guest connection using my password-protected guest connection, all they would see is their traffic and possibly other guests, but not mine.

post #10 of 67
Wifi isn't cheap or free due to price gouging
post #11 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Great idea. But as a first step Apple should do done supporting of the whole fiber game. Perhaps with public hotspots in utility boxes or such. Make sharing your house line a later step

In the best of worlds, all this fiber would be placed underground so it's less susceptible to damage. Unless you want to push power over the fiber, you'll still need power for the wireless routers in the utility boxes, which can be on the ground or up a pole, unless of course you don't have poles. I'm not against providing fiber or broadband to every house, it's just not as easy as many people think. I just had part of my front yard dug up to replace the Comcast cable for next door. The distribution box was on my other neighbor's and my property line. Luckily they didn't damage my yard and had a path to go in but in many areas this wouldn't be the case. For new construction, the state of WA now requires conduit but my cable is direct buried so I wouldn't be able to get a new feed to my house without digging a trench. Wireless takes care of this but you're trading one overloaded network for another. I like direct connected ethernet, which is harder to sniff than a wireless network. I could see installing several WiFi towers in my neighborhood as a better expenditure of my HOA dues, providing both free outdoor WiFi and better cell coverage through an AT&T microcell or something equivalent. One solution doesn't fit everyone's needs or environment.

post #12 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

If it makes the idea easier to accept, think of it as a tax.

 

:D 

post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

Meh - it's pretty easy to limit the guest activity so that it doesn't impact your speed or experience. The real elephant in the room is the fallacy of "unlimited" internet. It's a marketing scam and if it was unlimited we wouldn't see complaints about people getting throttled if their usage exceeds some set point. So much for truth in advertising. Also sharing service is almost always against the terms of use of your agreement with your ISP - again due to the whole unlimited not really being unlimited.
post #14 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

If it makes the idea easier to accept, think of it as a tax.

 

:D 

And because they don't have or can't afford their own wifi, their bandwidth gets priority over yours. Of course, if that bandwidth is piracy or child porn, you the account holder will still be responsible, even if you have logs. You "knew or reasonably should have known" this could happen. Have a nice life after that.

post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

This is not my area of expertise, but I was under the impression that 'no password' meant that the data was not encrypted. I always use my cell connection instead of free open wifi because you can't really trust what the owners of the wifi or rogue hacker packet sniffers are up to.

Your cell connection can be sniffed - not as easily as wifi but it's not that hard for someone determined to be bad. Session encryption is the only answer. Only connect to sites that use HTTPS, and make sure your email accounts are all using SSL (a good idea period, no matter where your machine is). If your email provider doesn't support SSL, the switch providers! Yes, it's that serious.

Right now I'm relying on the minor difficulty increase of cell vs. wifi for sniffing, but I really need to get off my duff and set a VPN up. I use pfSense on my firewall at home so it's not like it's a huge hardship to set it up. There are some really nice OpenVPN clients for iOS devices and with iOS 8 I imagine they will get better. If you don't want to set up your own VPN, there are VPN services for as little as $5 a month - they are a VERY good idea if you travel with your iOS device and need to use open wifi for whatever reasons.
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

This is not my area of expertise, but I was under the impression that 'no password' meant that the data was not encrypted. I always use my cell connection instead of free open wifi because you can't really trust what the owners of the wifi or rogue hacker packet sniffers are up to.

That is correct. Their statement "your primary [wireless] network remains secure" means that you're not interacting with the guest wireless network and that anyone using it will not have any access to your primary wireless network which also connects to the built-in switch and USB port. Of course, you will need to use a password and encryption on your primary wireless network for it to be secure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even if a hacker makes the guest connection using my password-protected guest connection, all they would see is their traffic and possibly other guests, but not mine.

That is correct. It's essentially the same as having two discreet wireless routers in your home where one is for guests and is connected outside a firewall that only access to the Internet. The only way that becomes less secure if there is some bug that can be explored since it is still the same HW and firmware for the simultaneous dual-band setup, but I think that's unlikely.
Edited by SolipsismX - 8/5/14 at 9:19am

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post #17 of 67

British Telecom's routers have a guest network (of sorts) automatically turned on. If you don't switch it off, you can roam onto any other BT customer's WiFi network (plus BT's public hotspots) for free.

 

I don't know how much bandwidth the router allocates to guests but it's a neat idea.

 

4G has made it obsolete where I live though. 

post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by kellya74u View Post

And because they don't have or can't afford their own wifi, their bandwidth gets priority over yours.

Again, it's trivial through traffic shaping to de-prioritize traffic from guests.
Quote:
Of course, if that bandwidth is piracy or child porn, you the account holder will still be responsible, even if you have logs. You "knew or reasonably should have known" this could happen. Have a nice life after that.

Nice fear-mongering. Its not that cut and dry: https://www.eff.org/files/2014/05/28/open-wifi-copyright.pdf
post #19 of 67
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
If it makes the idea easier to accept, think of it as a tax. :D 

 

Oooh… That’s a sharp one.

 

Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post
Meh - it's pretty easy to limit the guest activity so that it doesn't impact your speed or experience.

 

You’re right. I limit it to zero bits per second.

 

But I’m talking specifically about a scenario in which the rumored content of the article above is put into play. What would have been my incentive to let anyone use my crap for free?

post #20 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

What would have been my incentive to let anyone use my crap for free?

Plausible deniability? Copyright trolls targeting wide swaths of IPs? Proof that an IP address does not equal a person is finally starting to be taken up by the courts. Of course if your ISP is doing it on your AP like Comcast is, the wifi traffic other than yours is probably on an alternate VLAN and extremely easy to differentiate from your activity. From an upstream point what providers like Comcast are doing isn't a big deal - they probably have more than enough bandwidth anyway and traffic shaping can easily prioritize the primary customers traffic so that the connection isn't impacted. Where I see all this free wifi sharing start to fall down is there is only so much radio spectrum, and in urban environments - dense offices or apartments - its overcrowded as it is. Massively increasing use of finite and shared resources doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

BTW - here is one of the more approachable and easy to read technical articles on wifi I have come across in a while. Good stuff: http://apenwarr.ca/log/?m=201407#14
post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

Even better: your IP address can be linked back to criminal activity that you had nothing to do with. The RIAA could sue you because someone using you IP downloaded songs illegally.

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post #22 of 67
OT: I'm not sure I'm going to buy an AirPort Extreme in the future if they don't beef them up. I can live with the 3 switch ports but the USB port is 1) only USB 2.0, and 2) doesn't work with my RAID. It also doesn't have any decent network monitoring features. They used to allow SNMP (Simple Network Monitoring Protocol), then it became a hidden feature, and now it doesn't appear to exist at all. I think I'll buy a robust small business router next time.

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post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

I just checked and you're right. You can set encryption (WPA/WPA2) but these need a password. Of course, it wouldn't take much publicity to get people to use a standard password. This means a user would still have to enter the password for every password-protected guest network but maybe that could be automated. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even if a hacker makes the guest connection using my password-protected guest connection, all they would see is their traffic and possibly other guests, but not mine.


You are correct.

 

But in the reverse situation, where you are connecting to somebody else's guest network, WPA2 is not enough.


Unfortunately, the encryption of data going from device to router with WPA2 ends when it hits the router, so data is prone to a man in the middle attack (the attacker being the owner of the router).

 

So the only way to protect yourself on others public wifi is to encrypt messages from device to server, as DocNo42 pointed out, either to use SSL for both outgoing and incoming emails, and using websites with signed certificates (via HTTPS/TLS). Or use a VPN to tunnel and encrypt all traffic, which is highly recommended, as not all websites have a signed certificate, and not all email providers support SSL.

post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?

 

In the case of Comcast, it's not John Q. Public, it's your fellow Comcast customers (even though most customers whose home routers - post 2012 versions - make them "Xfinity Wifi" hotspots - aren't even aware of the fact they are serving up a node - and so certainly aren't personally keeping track of who's accessed it, tho' I suppose Comcast is...???)....

 

....so in this implementation of the concept it's more those who've paid up get to scratch each other's backs when out on the road. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

I just checked and you're right. You can set encryption (WPA/WPA2) but these need a password. Of course, it wouldn't take much publicity to get people to use a standard password. This means a user would still have to enter the password for every password-protected guest network but maybe that could be automated. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even if a hacker makes the guest connection using my password-protected guest connection, all they would see is their traffic and possibly other guests, but not mine.

 

I have no idea how secure this system is (it uses your Comcast customer password to log on), but your estimate's reasonable in my eyes.... ...still I don't log onto sites where I have to enter a password.  Though I'm vaguely concerned that my auto-login sites on my phone, including my social nets and email accounts are instantly available to me....

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post #25 of 67
What's to stop your neighbors from ditching Internet service and using yours?

Neighborhoods will turn into people who pay for Internet and those who steal from them. Who pays for "free" residential wifi when it's not part of a business like Starbucks?

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post #26 of 67

Really? I should pay for service so others can freeload off of me? Not happenin'.

 I have a guest network, with a password, for my guests. That's it.

post #27 of 67
Wi-Fi utopia is not so utopic

https://corp.fon.com/maps?lt=41.18805292295816&ln=-8.658046704101592&zm=11
zoom out out %u2026
and amaze yourself
post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

What's to stop your neighbors from ditching Internet service and using yours?

Neighborhoods will turn into people who pay for Internet and those who steal from them. Who pays for "free" residential wifi when it's not part of a business like Starbucks?
 
Originally Posted by mike1 View Post
 

Really? I should pay for service so others can freeload off of me? Not happenin'.

 I have a guest network, with a password, for my guests. That's it.

As I suggested above, I wouldn't mind having my HOA (only 50+ houses) set up a neighborhood WiFi network, using WPA2 along with a password known to association members. Everyone who pays dues gets the password. Sound fair? Of course I don't see it happening but it's an idea that might work in certain situations. 

post #29 of 67

The City of Cupertino suggested that Apple provide free WiFi for the entire city as part of the approval process for the Campus 2 project and Steve said no.

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post #30 of 67
It's a shame Google is the only entity out there right now making a significant dent in the high speed Internet fiber game. If I had my druthers, Apple would've been buying up wi-fi access points all over the country and selling reasonable monthly subscriptions for unlimited access. I'd be on that in a heartbeat, versus buying cable or fiber from Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T or anyone else.

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post #31 of 67
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
The City of Cupertino suggested that Apple provide free WiFi for the entire city as part of the approval process for the Campus 2 project and Steve said no.

 

Because he recognized that as nonsense, just as making Wi-Fi freely available to the world is. Cupertino does for Apple no more than being the land on which they’ve been for a while.

post #32 of 67
This sort of thing shouldn't be far off with cellular tech:

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/perlman-pcell-technology-poised-reform-wireless-network-193558849.html

Getting round the interference issue allows full bandwidth sharing and far more receivers. It can exist as a shared infrastructure so customers would still subscribe to individual service providers but share the same physical network. Service providers would have to find a way to differentiate themselves but this may be done with content deals rather than bandwidth. The people developing that tech have met with telecoms providers and Google and Apple. Perlman used to work at Apple.

They need to figure out how the backhaul system will work but if it's shared too, it's not such a big deal.

Wi-fi unfortunately would never have worked due to the limited range. It needs full coverage everywhere you are. But fast cellular using the above tech is essentially the same thing and won't have the same data caps we see in current cellular tech.
post #33 of 67
This is one area where you have to appreciate what Google is doing with Google Fiber. There needs to be more efforts like that to shake the telecom industry up. Maybe Apple could sponsor major efforts for muni-Fi efforts?
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

OT: I'm not sure I'm going to buy an AirPort Extreme in the future if they don't beef them up. I can live with the 3 switch ports but the USB port is 1) only USB 2.0, and 2) doesn't work with my RAID. It also doesn't have any decent network monitoring features. They used to allow SNMP (Simple Network Monitoring Protocol), then it became a hidden feature, and now it doesn't appear to exist at all. I think I'll buy a robust small business router next time.

For the price of an AirPort Extreme you could install a Synology NAS which will be compatible with your RAID and provide routing and robust sharing functions...
post #35 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I get the idea, but why should I pay to allow John Q. Public to mooch my Internet speed?
Why am I not surprise you'd be the first person to raise this point, looking at it from your own narrow perspective rather than reflect upon the broader picture (there is one).
post #36 of 67
Originally Posted by paxman View Post
Why am I not surprise you'd be the first person to raise this point, looking at it from your own narrow perspective rather than reflect upon the broader picture (there is one).


Better just enlighten me, since you’re so obviously superior in every conceivable way.

post #37 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I think I'll buy a robust small business router next time.

I long ago gave up on using my wireless AP's built in router functions - they are pretty pathetic. Apples AP's are great wifi access points. For routing I currently use pfSense on an HP Micrososerver I got on sale for less than $200 and it works great. But I'm seriously thinking about switching to an EdgeRouter Lite ($99) from Ubiquity since I don't use the majority of the features in pfSense and the EdgeRouter will use a fraction of the power. And I can use the Microserver for something else 1smile.gif
post #38 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

It's a shame Google is the only entity out there right now making a significant dent in the high speed Internet fiber game.

In very few locations and with just enough fanfare to ensure that Comcast doesn't even dare to try to treat them like they are Netflix.

It's far from humanitarian reasons for what they are doing - purely PR. Awesome for people that happen to live in the one or two magical cities, but squat for the rest of us.
post #39 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

This sort of thing shouldn't be far off with cellular tech:

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/perlman-pcell-technology-poised-reform-wireless-network-193558849.html

Getting round the interference issue allows full bandwidth sharing and far more receivers. It can exist as a shared infrastructure so customers would still subscribe to individual service providers but share the same physical network. Service providers would have to find a way to differentiate themselves but this may be done with content deals rather than bandwidth. The people developing that tech have met with telecoms providers and Google and Apple. Perlman used to work at Apple.

They need to figure out how the backhaul system will work but if it's shared too, it's not such a big deal.

Wi-fi unfortunately would never have worked due to the limited range. It needs full coverage everywhere you are. But fast cellular using the above tech is essentially the same thing and won't have the same data caps we see in current cellular tech.

Mmm ...

I was wondering how long it would take for someone, here, to mention pCell.

From everything I've read, seen and heard, the system works as claimed and Perlman has a 2-year lead on everyone else.

Several times, Perlman has alluded to "a deal to be announced in late 2014".


The following

http://www.artemis.com/pcell

Contains lots of good info -- including the ability to use a [much less expensive] pCell radio as an alternative to an LTE radio -- in areas with pCell coverage an iPad or iPod could be used instead of an iPhone.

Another interesting claim is that a pCell receiving the voice/data is about 1 centimeter in diameter ...

The small size target, and aggregation of signals, could be used to safely transmit power to the remote device ...


Perlman is quite a performer -- several times he has hinted at something bigger than voice/data transmission -- if you scroll down to the bottom of their site you will see a banner that saysL





Finally, another AI thread, today, discusses an Apple patent to charge computer peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc.) by wirelessly transmitting power within an area of about a meter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple on Tuesday was officially awarded a patent related to wireless, magnetic power systems that could one day in the future allow low-power devices like keyboards and mice to be powered over the air, without any physical contact or even battery necessary.
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post #40 of 67
Quote:
Quote:
Why am I not surprise you'd be the first person to raise this point, looking at it from your own narrow perspective rather than reflect upon the broader picture (there is one).

Better just enlighten me, since you’re so obviously superior in every conceivable way.

Perhaps this would appeal to your sense of generosity

http://lifehacker.com/190441/turn-your-wifi-piggybackers-internet-upside-down

17ex3q00o5knmpng.png
Edited by vaporland - 8/5/14 at 5:28pm
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