Saturday, July 22, 2006

MuniWireless Silicon Valley 2006

In June this year, I attended the MuniWireless Silicon Valley conference in Santa Clara, California. It was a 2.5 day event with lots of stuff going on - presentations, workshops, birds-of-a-feather sessions, product demos, etc. The open-source community was very well represented.

One particular presentation that I found very interesting had to do with an initiative called Green Wifi. It uses solar energy to power wireless routers and it's been deployed in developing countries where the infrastructure is still lacking. I talked to the founders, Marc Pomerleau and Bruce Baikie, and was very impressed by their dedication and enthusiasm. Check out their website at

Another interesting initiative is the Ile Sans Fil, a community wireless project for providing free wireless access in Montreal, Canada. I talked to Michael Lenczner from the group, a very enthusiatic young man who pulled out his laptop and showed me how he could monitor the live status of hotspots in Canada, right there from our conference room in Santa Clara. Their website is They have also developed a captive portal solution aimed at groups or individuals who want to open free wireless hotspots while preventing abuse of the system. It's called WifiDog and is Linux open source.

Broadband Wireless World 2006

In April this year, I attended the Broadband Wireless World 2006 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. There were a variety of entities represented - CEO's, management, engineers, ISPs, vendors, etc. One of my goals was to figure out what they thought of where WiMax will be in the future and to this end, I talked to several people. At the end of the conference, my impression was that opinion is still quite divided. Some folks think Wimax will be here in the next two years, whereas some think it's still to early to say when. One of the complaints was that it's a chicken-and-egg situation with respect to providers and customers. Another line of thought was that the rest of the world will probably be quicker to adopt WiMax as compared to the U.S., given the crowded license spectrum and the difficulties of obtaining licenses here in the U.S.

The expo boasted a large number of vendors and their state-of-the-art equipment. I had a few interesting conversations, one of which was with a gentleman from Kyocera, Japan. Kyocera is testing out this new technology of theirs - iBurst. However, the testing is being done in a few other countries but not Japan. The reason is that it is very difficult to obtain spectrum licenses in Japan and hence, they find it easier to do their testing elsewhere. He also said WiMax doesn't have as much potential in Japan for a simple reason - most of the country (99%) is on wired broadband and so there isn't much of a need for WiMax.

This is a good conference for WiMax folks. The fact that the annual CTIA conference was held in Las Vegas a week or so before it, made it more attractive for a lot of people.