Thursday, June 10, 2004

Airport Wi-Fi Mutual Interference Problems

Just went to a Wi-Fi conference in Amsterdam. No way could I get onto the Wi-fi connections with all the Bluetooth interference off the booths.

This interesting article via the internetpolicy blog from a Wall Street Journal article by Amy Schatz, via the Benton Foundation's Communications-Related Headlines:

"A tragedy of the commons, of sorts, is taking place inside America's airports as competing Wi-Fi networks are interfering with each other. Since Wi-Fi signals have a radius of 300 feet or less and interference problems tend to be localized, the FCC hasn't regulated them. But in some cases the systems used by carriers to track baggage have been blasted out by systems used by other parties to provide other services. Airport management has stepped in, insisting that airlines get permission before installing their own systems so the terminal managers can prevent problems with signal interference. Others are asking airlines to make sure that they limit their Wi-Fi signals to within the boundaries of allotted space in the airport -- a request many airlines consider unreasonable. Some airports are taking the notion of managing Wi-Fi a step further: They are installing their own networks. But some airlines fume that airports don't have the legal authority to ration the airwaves. They also worry that their own multimillion-dollar systems could be jeopardized: If an airline's Wi-Fi hardware isn't compatible with an airport-installed network, the carrier would have to buy a whole new system. So what do you do? Turn to the regulators, of course. The FCC is being asked to step in and decide whether or not landlords -- airports in this case -- have the right to restrict the use of unlicensed frequencies."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I helped set up an SMC wireless network for a convention a couple of weeks back. One laptop could not stay connected to the network because of interference from a stronger network in the same building.