WISP Wannabe Sells Wi-Fi Snakeoil

by Rob Flickenger

Imagine my surprise when I found this "press release" floating around the Net this morning:

"Seattle Wireless, a Social Wireless Area Network (SWAN) platform provider, announced the expansion of its services to the 12 largest metropolitan cities across North America, making the Wi-Fi technology company the nation's largest Wi-Fi provider."

Gee, that's funny. I'm involved with SeattleWireless.net, and that's the first I've heard of it. Odd that Matt Westervelt and Ken Caruso (the founders of seattlewireless.net) didn't say anything about a press release. You would think they would have said something, considering that I just accompanied them to the third FreeNetworks community network summit in San Francisco.

Ah, there's the confusion. It's seattlewireless.COM up to its old shenanigans again. If you haven't heard the saga, it's easily summed up by consulting the Internet Archive for both seattlewireless.net and seattlewireless.com (which appeared a full two years AFTER the seattlewireless.net project started.) Since the .com appeared on the scene, it has gradually included more and more pieces from various other free network projects (including the Einstein Quote from nocat.net's front page, and even something nebulous called their "Personal Telco" platform (directly taking the name of PersonalTelco, Portland's major community wireless network.)

Up until today, seattlewireless.com has been little more than an annoyance to actual community networking projects. But several important lines have now been crossed:

  • Various node lists and maps from projects including NYC Wireless, PersonalTelco, and of course, SeattleWireless.NET, are listed as seattlewireless.COM nodes.

  • They are now taking money for the privilege of accessing these nodes, none of which are supported by their "organization". Interestingly enough, their credit card entry page doesn't even use SSL.

  • The "company" is now making wild claims about what its technology can do. Here's a choice quote:

"Our telecommunications industry platforms, the Telecom Platform, the Village Telephony Platform and the Personal Telco Platform, allow roaming between different networks and across standards such as 802.11, Bluetooth, HiperLan, TDMA, CDMA, and 3G cellular networks. We partner with carriers, CLECs, ILECs, and telecom companies to license these Wi-Fi platform networks while supplying tools, content, services, branded bandwidth, and portals."

Finally. I've always wanted to roam from my Bluetooth directly to CDMA. Now that's a feature.

In short, don't be fooled. If you're interested in community wireless networking in Seattle, go to seattlewireless.NET. At the risk of stating the tragically obvious, know who you're dealing with before you give anyone your credit card number online. SeattleWireless.NET will never ask you for a credit card.

We build Free Networks.