WiFi

It seems time to open up the OneCleveland network vision of Cleveland Heights, to see if there is value for others

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 12/24/2006 - 03:02.

The other day I saw, in The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Crain's Cleveland Business, an announcement Case University is funding OneCleveland to put wifi in some high density, affluent commercial and residential rental and home ownership cores of Cleveland Heights. Justifying the expenditure, from Crain's: “Part of the entry into Cleveland Heights is that it’s really an extended community of Case Western,” said OneCommunity chief operating officer Mark Ansboury, and Cleveland Heights law director John Gibbon said. “It’s designed primarily as a trial for the business district, but it certainly will hit a number of residences, as well.” From the PD: "Lewis Zipkin, a major Cleveland Heights landlord" is qouted saying: "It's going to be a terrific benefit for me, my properties and the community". If I were a Case student or trustee, SBC/AT&T, the Cable company or a person living in a less affluent community, I'd have serious concerns about all of this. In fact, as my wife is a Case Ph.D. student being assessed $100s a year by Case for a technology fee, which it now seems is going to Cleveland Heights, I guess I have a right to be concerned myself.

Extending Community Home Online - the ECHO for universal access is about to return home

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 11/28/2006 - 03:38.

On next Wednesday, December 6, 2006,  it will have been two years since I proposed to Northeast Ohio that we can easily and inexpensively bridge the digital divide for East Cleveland, and other communities in need in the region, by deploying mesh wifi networks here and distributing recycled computers running open source software (see original posting below, and linked with other related files here). I called this vision ECHO - originally "East Cleveland Homes Online", renamed "Extending Community Home Online". While I've driven some ECHO progress, over these years, especially deploying to people in need recycled computers running Ubuntu, the mesh is still to come. The time has come.

The face of a tech native: looking across the digital divide

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 11/22/2006 - 04:03.

 

I've had many "chicken or egg" discussions about the digital divide with many people over many years. To some, the divide is about economics and access to technology and the Internet. To some, it is about environment and culture. To some it is about usability and functionality. I believe a person's position relative to the digital divide is influenced by all these factors, over time, influenced by personal capabilities, and I tend to view the challenges to be overcome to bridge the divide in about that order, starting with economics and access to technology and ending with functionality of technology, applications and information services. I'll point to my 19 month old tech native son Claes and some friends and family to explore this issue further. 

Happy 2nd B-Day, REALNEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 10/26/2006 - 02:22.

Two weeks ago saw the second birthday of REALNEO. I started REALNEO in October, 2004, to provide “Regional Economic Action Links for North East Ohio” and implement for the region some exciting open source social networking technology. While the outcomes have not been entirely what I expected, and these years have in ways been rough, I've been thrilled to help drive and support some great developments in the community.

Zero One San Jose to Ingenuity Three in Cleveland - Glocalization for 2007

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 10/13/2006 - 01:09.

Today, at WVIZ IdeaCenter, Ingenuity Festival founder and director James Levin hosted his peer Steve Dietz, director of a remarkable "sister" arts and technology festival ZeroOne San Jose, along with a group of NEO arts leaders, for intimate planning for the 3rd Ingenuity Festival, which will be held around Playhouse Square and Cleveland State University in 2007. James introduced the discussion by explaining he had been in San Jose last month for ZeroOne and is working with the organizers of that event in his brainstorming for our festival, which is one of the most exceptional of its type in the world. And, based on what was presented and discussed today with Steve Dietz, Ingenuity Festival is about to get much more exceptional... James is looking and partnering very globally and focused on strengthening the integration of "technology" into Ingenuity 2007. This was clearly a strength in the exciting artistic expressions of ZeroOne, as presented in an impressive overview by Dietz.

Closing the digital divide ...

Submitted by Phillip Williams on Sat, 07/15/2006 - 18:46.

France gets poorest citizens online for €1 ($1.28)  a day.


Why is it that I am reading of the digital divide being closed aggressively every ware but in Cleveland?! I thought maybe it was not that big of deal here in greater Cleveland... I mean everyone has a computer right? WRONG!!! It is pathetic that so many people are without a basic computer and Internet connection. What will it take to make this problem go away? I for one am willing to put forth an effort to help solve this problem.

Thanks for NEO's highest compliment: appreciation from Cool Cleveland x 2

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 07/05/2006 - 04:55.

I am really appreciative, this morning. After posting what was certainly the saddest news I can imagine, about the hardship my staff has suffered as a result of a lack of appreciation from my former business associate, Peter Holmes, I opened up this week's CoolCleveland and found that their crew had featured TWO postings from REALNEO. I am very touched and thankful to Thomas and his team for noticing REALNEO and taking an interest in the thoughts posted here - thank you. Please show appreciation back to CoolCleveland... if you are not a member, see what you've been missing... subscribe at CoolCleveland - all free - this is a real NEO must,  and send feedback to CoolCleveland letters at the links below, and supporting the upcoming CoolCleveland/Tech/Ingenuity party at Fat Fish Blue, July 13, and the Ingenuity Festival, as described below... but first, here's the nice write-up about REALNEO from CoolCleveland today, July 5, 2006:

WIRELESS COMMUNITY MESH INTERNET

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 04/08/2006 - 14:08.

 

  

About five years ago I watched a bucket truck pull up under this light pole and the guy went up and attached this radio device onto the arm of the light pole.  The unit is powered right off the constant feed to the light’s photo voltaic switch.  It took the guy less than 5 minutes to install.  Note how the power plug is piggybacked by the old photo cell.

When he came back down to ground level I asked the fellow what the purpose of the radio unit was, and he showed me a plan of the Town on which numerous hexagonal cells were show.   In the center of each of those cells (1/4 mile radius) was to be one of these radio transceivers.  The cells communicated downstream to the numerous homes in each cell, and they communicated upstream to two or three cell tower locations from which they connected to land telephone lines.  The unit was able to handle dozens of simultaneous discrete individual connections with data rates up and down in the 300kbs range.

 

 

 


Their intended purpose?  Wireless multi-channel digital connection for internet and TV!

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NEO Central - Media Arts Center for North East Ohio

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 04/06/2006 - 02:04.

 

Northeast Ohio is about to see an explosive, high profile, living, learning and enlightening force hit the scene and landscape, as area filmmakers, learning institutions and the public come together to create NEO Central - a bleeding-edge collaborative media arts center for NEO now and the future.The center will be based on like-minded initiatives around the world, and will provide shared film/media education, incubation, production, distribution, business and technology resources, and facilities, which are currently located in the historic landmark Gillota Building at 300 Central Viaduct (Carnegie) and will be expanded significantly as part of an area economic development plan. More on all of this is found in the links below, which will grow...

Philadelphia chooses vendor for muny Wireless project

Submitted by DerekArnold on Tue, 10/04/2005 - 18:22.

Philadelphia has chosen a provider for their municipal wireless network and the winner is...Atlanta-based Earthlink over HP.Click here to read the story .

08.09.05 Excellence Roundtable Invitation: join OneCleveland CEO Scot Rourke

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 08/05/2005 - 16:31.
08/09/2005 - 11:30

The Excellence Roundtable is pleased to host OneCleveland/OneNEO CEO Scot Rourke, August 9th at the City Club, for an insightful discussion on the latest developments with his influential initiative bringing ultra-broadband communications and related applications to Northeast Ohio.

Location

City Club - 850 Euclid Ave., 2nd Floor

Broad coalition supports Community Internet NEO needs - Central Ohio Legislator opposes

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 02/24/2005 - 01:08.

Case's Weatherhead School of Management Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI) and other community leaders support an initiative to distribute used computers and ease access to free or low cost Internet access for area residents in financial hardship. The first community being supported through this vision is East Cleveland, where REI drives ECHO - "Extending Community Home Online" - as part of an East Cleveland 2010 community redevelopment initiative. This effort is not in social service for the poor of East Cleveland but a critical initiative for economic development for this entire NEO region.

Information Technology

Submitted by Ted Takacs on Sun, 12/26/2004 - 18:29.

Information Technology Virtual Communities and articles.

On the digital divide - best practices in PA take turn for worst in OH

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 12/23/2004 - 05:06.

REI Director Ed Morrison sent me a link to an excellent
case study that well demonstrates the value of ECHO - East Cleveland Homes
Online... this article highlights a Philadelphia program that is helping bridge
the digital divide isolating some of the most troubled households in that
region, and we need to do exactly the same types of things to gain exactly the
same types of benefits here - read this story and case study!

This issue is about to become explosive in this state as,
like in Pennsylvania, Ohio politicians are trying to legislate
protections for special telco interests that will take many options away from
communities trying to bridge their digital divides. Ohio is about to become the
battle ground (and joke) for the national digital divide war because a State Representative from Mount Vernon (near Columbus), Thom Collier, has
introduced a bill in the Ohio state legislature that amends existing Ohio cable
competition law by restricting political subdivisions from providing
"telecommunications service using telecommunications equipment".

Carnegie Mellon attacks the greatest Digital Divide challenges - we need to address easy local problems

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 12/22/2004 - 13:28.

There is an interesting posting in Hindu Business about a development by a Carnegie Mellon professor working with academe and government in India to bridge the digital divide there, which serves all people of the world. Of course, where good happens first benefits first. At a recent Tuesday@REI it was proposed a solution for helping the disconnected in Cleveland is te deploy "dumb terminals" - thin clients designed to provide exclusive top-down solutions to limited problems community leaders consider important - whereas the Carnegie Mellon model is to provide the most functional, capabilitiy rich solutions to the most disconect people of India - the illiterate - to empower them at the highest possible level in the greatest range of ways. This is the correct model, and Case has the opportunity to help demonstrate the value of this approach as we work to bridge the digital divide in East Cleveland. Read on...

ED Pro observations about the importance of broadband internet access

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 12/20/2004 - 15:03.

In his ED Pro, Ed Morrison highlighted important observations about the importance of broadband internet access... in this case highlighting a foundation initiative to improve access for rural regions of Minnesota, but the same thinking must be applied to underserved, disconnected urban populations, like in inner-city Cleveland and East Cleveland. Note, in the grand spectrum of Internet access, dial-up is the minimum need of every citizen of the new economy, the level of broadband discussed here (e.g. DSL or Cable, via wires or wifi) is a valuable step beyond dial-up, and beyond that is ultra-broadband, like with OneCleveland, which provides even higher speed communications for large institutions. Toi consider what action is needed here, read the insightbelow, inserting "urban NEO" for "rural MN" and replacing "Blandin" with "Cleveland", "Gund" or any other area or national foundation.

ECHO stands for East Cleveland Homes Online - working to bridge the community's digital divide

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 12/06/2004 - 10:05.

ECHO is a Northeast Ohio region-wide initiative to support the leaders, residents and enterprises of East Cleveland who are proactively working to bridge the community's digital divide - ECHO stands for East Cleveland Homes Online. Representatives of the University Collaboration are driving this initiative, with prominent leadership from Case and Cleveland State. These efforts are supported by the Mayor of East Cleveland, and will help him reinvent the great community he serves.

ECHO will bridge East Cleveland's digital divide by compiling donated computers and distributing them and open source software and wifi Internet access and communications devices to insure each household, business and organization in East Cleveland has a computer with Internet access and optimal software and information services. The Intention is for computers and Internet access, training, education and support services to be made affordable for everyone living and working in East Cleveland, so life there is bettered by enhanced Internet and information technology, including Voice over Internet Protocol, social networking, eLearning, eMedicine, eCommerce and eGovernment. As East Clevelanders become experienced using these new economy tools and services, they will become more powerful forces in the local and regional economy, making NEO a stronger and better community for all.

Posted below are timely articles on technical, social and political developments related to deployment of such "socialized" information services via ECHO. The computer donation, processing and distribution initiative will be described in a different document - this write-up addresses providing Internet access. ECHO will deploy WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) as the core technology for Internet access with a "mesh", which you can visualize like a safety net. Also posted here are articles on alternative access technologies: Powerline Carrier, enabling communications via the power transmission infrastructure already interconnecting everything in East Cleveland, and WiMAX, which uses microwave to bring high bandwidth communications to target locations. Technology needed for ECHO is available in the marketplace and is reliable, cost effective, and getting better daily.

Adding a WiFi router to a cable or DSL Internet access modem (or Powerline or WiMAX access device) allows the wireless transmission of the Internet signal to and from WiFi ready computers within range of the signal, allowing many computers to access a single Internet connection. Range is determined by the WiFi technologies employed ("b", "g" or emerging "n"), and may be enhanced by optimal placement of antennas, amplifiers, and repeaters and diminished by physical obstructions, distance, and other interference. While the least expensive WiFi routers and other devices are "b", the extended range of "g" and "n" may justify using those broader range technologies for the benefit of providing service to more households per access point. It is also possible to add repeaters and amplifiers that extend range further. The deployment schema of these technologies determines the scope of the signal of each access point on the mesh. The objective is to distribute a combination of these technologies so all Internet access areas overlap, forming a mesh providing complete coverage throughout the city.

The greatest technical challenge is determining how loose a mesh is possible - how great a distance may be configured between hard-wire access points. Physical DSL, cable or other Internet access points must be contracted for homes, businesses, churches, schools and other structures distributed throughout the community - the WiFi mesh will radiate from those points. For initial modeling purposes, we'll estimate 1,000 physical Internet access connections must be contracted, for interconnecting all the WiFi technologies needed to provide coverage for 11,000 households in East Cleveland.

Computers in structures with direct access points may connect to the Internet via Ethernet. Unwired computers access the mesh and so wireless Internet by using WiFi cards/devices. By leveraging Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), people may also use WiFi capable telephones and computers for telephone communications throughout the internetworked community and via the Internet world-wide. Costs for computer WiFi cards have become quite low - a "b" card costs under $20 retail - bulk wholesale purchases could drive that cost to around $10. "g" and "n" cards cost somewhat more. The "g" and "n" cards and routers are backwards compatible to connect with "b" devices so a combination of all these WiFi standards will be used, as is most cost effective.

To complete a cost analysis, we must determine the availability of DSL and Cable Internet access in East Cleveland. Areas where households are physically isolated or where there is not any broadband service available will be the most costly and difficult to include in the mesh - perhaps requiring WiMAX and higher strength WiFi deployments. A map must be developed of all addresses in East Cleveland needing Internet access, on which we'll overlay available Internet service options and the optimal mesh of technology solutions. This is not an especially difficult challenge - the data should all be available.

It must still be determine what level of broadband is available in East Cleveland via existing DSL service providers and via cable Internet access. Where available, monthly charges quoted by SBC for DSL in Northeast Ohio range from a minimum of $19.95, if bundled with other SBC telecommunications services (like long distance phone), to an unbundled $29.95, if signing a one year contract. To receive SBC DSL, customers must also subscribe to their POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service - which costs a minimum of $12.67, for those eligible for SBC's low-income "lifeline" program, meaning monthly DSL related access costs/customer total a minimum of $42.62. If available in East Cleveland, cable internet access typically costs around $49/month, after any trial period discounts offered by carriers. With a one year contract, DSL and cable service providers typically provide a DSL or Cable modem at no additional cost - carriers may charge for installation and equipment shipping. These figures are estimates and all this information will be validated by contacting all carriers servicing East Cleveland. Further, pricing may be reduced through strategic planning and negotiation for service in bulk contracts.

For initial modeling purposes, project up-front cost of $50/modem and recurring cost of $20/access point/month X 1,000 access points = $50,000 up front and $20,000 per month for all of East Cleveland. In addition, there will be an up-front cost for the hardware to configure the WiFi transmission mesh for the 10,000 wireless access households projected in this model for East Cleveland - estimate 1,000 routers, at $50/router, and 1,000 amplifiers/repeaters, at $50 each - totaling $100,000 in additional up front hardware costs. The 1,000 households with cable or DSL modems will be able to access the Internet using ethernet, and ethernet cards are preinstalled in enough computers to assume that will not add any costs. The computers accessing the Internet mesh via WiFi will need WiFi cards, which will be estimated at $20/card, adding $200,000 to the up front hardware costs for 10,000 households. Thus, the up-front hardware cost to interconnect 11,000 households will be around $350,000 - about $32/household. Monthly access service costs will then be around $20,000 for the community of 11,000 households, being under $2/month/household. Even if costs are twice those estimated here, they are quite affordable - most households can afford $2-4/month for high speed Internet access, especially as that also enables VoIP (to optimize this capability, some computers may need headsets, which are available for under $10/headset). Households in East Cleveland already contracting for broadband Internet service will be able to participate in this mesh pricing model, allowing those residents to save or be compensated $30-40/month.

While $350,000 may seem like a lot of up-front money to spend in this community, it provides Internet access to 11,000 households and thus comes to around $32/household, which should be a manageable one-time expense for most households. If some East Cleveland households can't afford that cost up front, there should be a way to finance that over a year, as each household can afford $3-4/month for hardware, on top of $2-3/month for access. It is reasonable to project the entire mesh, with financed access hardware and recurring monthly service, is thus viable for less than $10/household/month. Consider, this distributed mesh cost is about 50% the minimum cost for any of these households to contract just local POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service - and 10 - 20% of what it would cost them for either cable or DSL Internet service, if they qualify. As a strategic planning option, each household could be expected to pay $10/month, which would generate $110,000 per month community wide, totaling $1,320,000/year, which would generate around $500,000 for other development and support costs and cover any losses from non-payments, customer hardships, stolen equipment and such.

To make the process as cost-efficient as possible, a not-for-profit organization should be used to deploy the mesh and enabling hardware and support services, as that may accept donated hardware and services - every device donated and service volunteered represents dollars saved from the costs to the people of the community. This 501c3 should be able to contract advantageous Internet access pricing for the entire community as an umbrella service contract, and should be able to acquire all hardware and contract services in bulk buying agreements for everyone, while negotiating every other advantage possible for a charitable organization. Options to pursue are grants, gifts and charitable donations, and collaborative relationships with schools, government, and other charitable organizations.

It is important to realize the mesh will serve East Cleveland businesses, government, and other organizations as well, making all of them more effective. As an example of the value of that, the Director of East Cleveland's largest employer, Huron Hospital, apparently wanted to initiate a buy-in-East Cleveland program but found few East Cleveland businesses are available on-line, so it is functionally impossible for a sophisticated enterprise to buy local. But as local businesses and residents move into the New Economy, it is a minor task to develop directories of their services, and enable eCommerce capabilities. Thus, local businesses and organizations like Huron Hospital can better serve their community, as is their desire. And all other East Cleveland residents will become more employable and be better served by their local business community, and East Cleveland will be a better place to base a business.

Huron Hospital and other service providers will be able to provide better service to an interconnected community. East Cleveland government and schools will be able to better serve their community. Organizations, businesses, and individuals within and outside East Cleveland will be better able to serve East Cleveland residents, and residents will be better prepared to serve their community and the entire region in every way imaginable. All the great benefits will become clearer each day East Cleveland is undivided.

The only obstacles to making this happen would be obstruction by businesses that hope to sell competing information technology and services in East Cleveland. But, as the preponderance of good to come from ECHO far eclipses the self-interests of any businesses hoping to profit off the struggling residents and small businesses of this community, it is safe to assume no socially responsible businesses will obstruct this transformative initiative.

Some related links:

 

While you're getting up to speed with WiFi, prepare to go faster with WiMax

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/29/2004 - 17:24.

As we all consider the
transformational impact of wifi on our daily lives and this community, there’s
another wireless technology to receive in your mindspace and soon to your business or even home – WiMax… worldwide interoperability
for microwave access… which has blazing speed with a stable range of 15-30 miles and is already prevalent in major cities around the
world, and should be considered part of NEO’s long-term technology portfolio strategy.
The questions are, how does WiMax help NEO and when? Read the NYTimes article posted and linked below – I’ll explore this further as
it relates to bridging our digital divide from the most out of box position
possible.

CONSIDER: REALNEO, Universal Access, VoIP, Video and the transformation of our region

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/29/2004 - 14:55.

Consider what it means to have a community that communicates and collaborates effectively together. REALNEO allows everyone in Northeast Ohio or beyond, as interested, to participate in a free, standardized, open source virtual network, and so share solutions beyond how to invigorate our regional economy. When connected together in such a smart way, we may leverage a wide range of world-class technologies as never before done or even conceived in a physical community. Take VoIP and videoconferencing, as examples.

Keep talking about the NEO crisis: Clevelanders must get connected

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 11/28/2004 - 20:48.

I find it absurd when people criticize the Plain Dealer for their "Quiet Crisis" series and challenge area residents to look on the sunny side of life. While REALNEO certainly features plenty of progressive developments and people in the region to celebrate, it is essential we all redouble efforts to correct our failings and support solutions, rather than hibernate in denial - things won't be any better in the Spring.

For one roadmap to a better future, in the 11/28/04 Plain Dealer Forum Section the insightful Joe Frolik offers a blueprint for significant improvement for NEO, taken from lessons learned in our regional diamond Chicago, which not inconsequentially was able to lure away one of our leaders of our sustainability movement because our community leaders were not as supportive and promising as those of the Windy City. For another roadmap, look to Boston, and just down the road to NEO's most progressive suburb, Shaker Heights.

In another new economy domain, the OneCleveland initiative has been nationally recognized at the top of the community bandwidth spectrum but, for lack of concerted comprehension of the connection between connectivity and economic development, we are lagging Philadelphia in visioning on becoming the wired city of the future. Worse, the City of Cleveland has failed to leverage information technology as a foundation for economic development and we're now recognized as the worst of 70 large city virtual communities in the Country. Worse, those who allowed us to become the worst are slamming the barn door and pledging away $30,000,000+ to out-of-state contractors to put us right.

As a more sane strategy, I suggest leaders for the future of Cleveland speak up about this crisis and take ownership to find solutions. I started speaking up on this issues in 2001, writing a "Quiet Crisis" op/ed on our failing virtual community and the digital divide, and I am working with a group of Case and Cleveland State leaders to solve those problems in East Cleveland, where city government is receptive to outside support. I reprint below my op/ed from 2001, which remains true today, and I encourage others to post their thoughts on these issues as comments here, or email me on these matters at norm [at] icearth [dot] com.

Public WiFi policy lessons being learned now in PA - pay attention OH

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 11/28/2004 - 17:17.

Many private businesses in NEO are making life better for area residents and visitors by making their Internet access free to others via WiFi. I'm writing this posting from Talkies, in Ohio City, in a room full of others so unwired, and none of us would be here if the owners weren't so progressive. Unfortunately, most NEO leaders are not as forward thinking as our small business champs, or progressives leaders like in Philadelphia, developing large-deployment mesh public WiFi strategies for all their residents.

WiFi offers immediate economic development impact at many levels, bringing the IT savvy creative class out into the streets and to area businesses, on even the most dismal NEO evening, and making them appreciate the region as progressive and desirable. A smart regional WiFi strategy may have much greater impact bridging the digital divide for residents who cannot afford or gain access without concerted public initiative. REALNEO is supporting effort to create a WiFi mesh for all of East Cleveland, where residents are struggling with so much in life. But, in planning this, we must all realize making computing and Internet access a civil right, so to speak, smacks of socialism in the face of monopoly access providers like Adelphia and SBC, which want to charge as much as possible to those who can pay, and deny access to those who cannot. Accept this truth as we attempt to unbundle economic development from the current monopoly stranglehold on Internet access, as we shall soon face challenges like being faced by Philadelphia, and Ohio in not as progressive as Pennsylvania and so even more likely to fail at the hands of entrenched business interests. Read what's up in PA:

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