2502 West Colorado Ave., Suite 203 · Colorado Springs, CO 80904 ·
Voice 719.636.2040 · Fax 719.528.5869 ·Wireless Web http://wireless.oldcolo.com

Progress Report 2

Sunday, January 14th, 1996

Here is a current status report.

After three days in the Valley, Larry Fox and associate, with one windy as hell day, got the two mast antennas up at Monte Vista Middle School and Center School up and in place, awaiting Bob and Dewayne putting radios on them the week of the 21st. Only suprises - while the holes in the roof are drilled at Monte Vista, the Superintendent (Gary Kidd) at Center school (who is very cooperative on the project) will not permit holes to be drilled in his school roof. For reasons of roof-contractor guarantees which are still running, *provided* no holes are put in the roof. So the cables will have to run on the outside walls.

Larry reports the top of the Center mast is so high (roof plus chimney plus base plus mast) - maybe 40 feet up, that it may required a Cherry Picker from Alamosa to install the yagis.

I have the NT server that will

  1. carry running reports and the final project report online and
  2. will be used as a 'classroom' by the teacher-students is up, on the (office) premises of Old Colorado City Comm, and is connected to the OCC lan to the Internet. And
  3. can be used for wireless tests - such as interference tests, in Colorado Springs.

It is running (reliably so far) Netscape Server software and a Beta version of Wildcat NT multi-user BBS, reached by telnetting into the NT. (NT has, suprisingly enough, no native telnet-in daemon, only ftp).

The 'Wireless NSF Test Project' Web site can be reached with any browser right now at As soon as our domain name request is implemented it will be wireless.studies.org on the net. (there were no untaken simpler names for it)

Telnetting to the same site will get you the generic (Beta) Wildcat BBS - which is both a way for messaging by the public and schools about the wireless project to be posted, will be used by George as the 'discussion' home for the Math/Science course by teachers, complementing the Netscape web paging that will put heavier demands on the wireless pipes. (I also have, not installed, the RealAudio server software for NT which will permit further hammering from school equipped systems)

I also have (as yet uninstalled) CuSeeMe 'reflector' software for the NT, which will facilitate testing it with our own closed video-conference rather than rely on the heavily loaded public reflectors out there.

An associated workstation duplicating what two of the schools have, on the same lan, running Windows for Workgroups is also up, next to the NT. It is equipped with the same peripherals - Connectix camera, graphics tablet, hand scanner, sound board, speaker, microphone, CuSeeMe (still in Beta for Windows), and Netscape that the schools will have (on one workstation).

The little $5 photographer's loupe's that can be used in conjunction with the Connectix ball cameras have proven to be an excellent way to get 5 times magnification on the CRT of any small item (bugs, drawings, text) viewed by the camera online.

A deal was reached with Tetherless Access (TAL), for the loan, with option to buy at $12,000 total (they list for $22,500) three current-design TAL radio systems for the duration of the tests.

Bob has been configuring latest (1 watt) model Free Wave radios for external mounting in the valley.

Xircom has shipped to us a wireless lan (PCMIA card and base unit) for use in Penrose Public Library.

Dewayne has signed up for, and is using, the Metricom service, with Ricochet wireless modem in the Bay Area.

All the multi-media small items for installation on one workstation at each of the 4 schools is in. Two schools are on NT Lans, one will be an OS2 Lan, and Mitchel is on a Novell network, with IP running over it.

(It has been a bear of a task to get all the peripherals and multi-media software of the types/costs schools are likely to use to work on singular workstations. What with limitations of external ports, duplicate solutions for power (from keyboard for both graphics tablet and Connectix camera) it has kept me busy day and night getting the 'models' ready for installation at the schools)

The US West and PTI 56kb connections are at the demark at the Carver House in Alamosa. Three pots phone lines have been installed there too, to be connected via 3 modems we have to Ken's Terminal Server. Telephone numbers

Also phones have been installed in the vicinity of where the wireless and servers will be at each school.
        719-852-3748  Monte Vista School
        672-3001  San Luis School
        ???       Center (not known yet. School is installing)
        596-3368  Mitchell High School
Dave and George will be driving to the Valley Monday, Jan 14th to (1) install the hardware software on a workstation at Monte Vista and Center, and deliver a small OS2/Windows workstation to Centennial School which does not have a net-capable system on their LAN, only a token ring network (2) to connect up the workstation via Supra 28.8 modems to the RMII pop (2) train the school's tech (Lori Roberts at Monte Vista, a new hire tech, Cindy Brown at Center, and Linda Quintana at San Luis) on the peripherals and (3) George to get the 15 teachers started on the distance learning course. (This is just to get the teachers started with e-mail via the RMII pop, using the phone line which will be switched to the Special Routers Dewayne is programming, until the wireless connections are fully operational at each school.)

So by Thursday PM, the 18th one workstation at each school with be outfitted with the multi-media add-ons, and the school tech plus the teachers will be communicating by modem to the Alamosa RMII pop, and starting logs on their logons.

Dave and George will be back in Colorado Springs the evening of the 18th.

Dewayne arrives Thursday the 18th in Colorado Springs and gets the 4 'small case (about 4 inches high)' router-computers programmed by Sunday.

Sunday the 21st Bob flies in, is met by Dewayne and they head for the valley with radios for Center and Monte Vista and the Wireless Routers. And spend the next several days (1)connecting up the Free Wave 1 watt radios to Monte Vista and Center school, and to the Wireless Routers in the schools (2) survey the San Luis 'challenge'

Monday the 22d, Dave and George visit Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs and install the one-workstation hardware and software on the Power PC the school district has ready on the net.

There is one hitch at RMII, Alamosa. Their Port Master terminal server failed, and do not expect the replacement to be on station until Friday the 19th. So until it is back up we have no ports to connect the modems and lines for the 'loops' between the Wireless Routers and the one at RMII. Not enough ports. But Ken expects that to be remedied by the 19th.

Dave (maybe George) will return to the Valley on the 23d to help in the connecting up of the school's Server and Workstation to the Wireless Router and Radios, and keeping the teachers on track, now with wireless.

Larry will stay in Colorado Springs, ready to support if needed, the week of the 21st.

Hopefully, by the end of that week, both Monte Vista and Center Schools will be connected to workstations by wireless to Ken's POP in Alamosa, and both objective measurements of the wireless thruput between stations, and subjective by teachers of the speed of the connection as the web-communicate, can begin.

Added comments:

It is quite clear that the difference between a 28.8 phone modem connection for running Windows CuSeeMe on a single workstation (which theoretically can handle 8 video-voice sessions) and a much higher bandwidth wireless connection will be illuminating.

In readying the White Pine beta Windows CuSeeMe software for the workstations I operated it on two platforms several times. Connecting to White Pine reflectors with 4 to 8 other people. It is very clear it is really of marginal utility for more than one-on-one sessions at 28.8 modem speeds. Very jerky and broken video, and broken voice. If the effective thruput of the wireless links from workstations are at least 56kb, I suspect we are going to see a world of difference.

It also occured to me one 'way' other than measuring packet data rates, and keeping subjective, and stop-watch logs, to 'report' on such activities as videoconferencing, that video-taping some sessions will give an excellent idea of the comparative practical value of wireless versus telco-modem connections.

On Jan 10th to 12th, I was supposed to be in Washington to present wireless to the Telestrategies Conference (trip paid for by the conference), and visit Steve Goldstein and Don Mitchell at the NSF on our project. But the Big Snow stopped me in Chicago. So I made the presentations by phone conference. Worked out OK. Got one interesting feedback during Q&A periods. George Lucas, the 'bottom telco-line' organizer of the conferences, went out of his way to 'put no-licence wireless in perspective' by throwing up all sorts of objections - including (1) how bad FCC Part 15 bands are - crowded now (2) what great PDA 'services' are going to be available from the telcos (3) how higher power levels are going to pose a health threat - like cellular phones-to-the-head will if they carry too high wattage. !!!!

I countered with (1) the facts of the Apple Wireless NII Bands Petition before the FCC which would move wireless to its own bands, not Part 15 (2) the fact that there are lots of places - US K-12 public education being one of them, that 'commercial' wireless services will likely be unaffordable for mass (42 million student) user (3) the FCC has an eye on health problems, and that some of the radios in this test are being mounted far away from people and (4) the real *business* of no-licence wireless is going to lie - if the FCC acts favorably and the RBOCS don't get away with inhibiting no-licence connections to their nets by trying to impose special access fees - in huge manufacturing business. And that (5) quite apart from US domestic uses, the 3d world does not have the wired commercial choices the US has. That I could see 100 million radios being built for export in this area. But that this reflects more the 'computer industry' approach to business more than the 'telephone company business.' Finally (6) that wireless is in the RBOCS interest if they just thought about it, since the local wireless is going to be connected to the wired at some points. And as it grows, so will demand for long-line data bandwidth, which the telcos sell.

Interesting exchange, betraying the fear & ignorance of even Internet savy big-business types in no-licence wireless.

But it did raise the electromagnetic emissions 'health' bugaboo. So we should include in our report, the way the FCC deals with the issues of power and proximity versus health. For schools, just as they are in 'porno access via the internet' are very touchy about 'health' problem charges. So we should deal with it head on.

So our project proceeds, in spite of shipping (Xmas/New Years) difficulties, cold weather, closed schools, redesigned radios, Beta software - all of which expired Jan 1st, and the usual small techncial glitches. But it is getting there and everybody is earning their meagre project pay for the important task of proving out field wireless - made even more important as RBOCs everywhere are getting price-nasty with ISDN (PacBell doubling theirs and US West asking to triple - to $185 a month), the only other generally assumed 'solution' for higher (than pots line) data bandwith to residences, offices, schools short of costly T-1 connections.

Dave Hughes