16 April 2005

Wireless hotspots

| lemaChet
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Being a nerd, I have a fascination with wireless networks and in particular public hotspots. So it is that I’m sitting outside Red Gecko on a Saturday morning testing the hotspot here.

The service is provided through Azure (www.azure.com.au) and is not free, and in fact if you pay by credit card, its pretty hefty at $13.20 an hour. You do have the option however, to bill to a standard ISP account if you have one, but only a few ISPS seem to be taking part at this time.
Further than that, theres some funky “premium sms” thing you can use.
Your time is charged in minute blocks.

Either way, its very simple. No encryption or security of any sort, the management software just picks up the AP and asks you to connect. No IP address is assigned at all. You can access www.azure.com.au straight off the bat, but if you try to access anything else, it brings up a login page asking you to pay for your time.

Even looking at the system settings now, I’m not 100% sure how this works. I forgot to turn off DHCP, so it’s still got my home network address assigned, yet its working perfectly.
When I first checked ipconfig, it had “no media connected” but now.. well, it just works.

Speedwise, it doesn’t seem too bad, but then I haven’t really tried downloading anything to test through put speeds. Web browsing certainly works at an acceptable speed, and I’m able to retreive my emails from my pop3 account.
I hit a snag when I tried to reply to an email however, as most ISPS have security setup to prevent people from outside their environment relaying through their smtp server. Quite rightly.
so I’ll wait til I get home for that.

I’ve been tempted to try connecting to RAS at work, but it’s been made clear to me that although I have that access, its not there to actually USe, its only there for support.
Its a shame, that would be a good way to test the speed.

Streaming a live feed from triplej (albeit sounding crap through laptop speakers) is consistent and solid, which is a reasonable way to measure the ability to maintain a constant data stream at a neat speed.
all in all, apart from the price, its not too bad. Its not something I could really see myself using often, but for business/professional types it could come in handy, especially because your access will work anywhere theres an Azure AP. The only technical downside I can see is that some pages don’t load sometimes, and IE just stops. But I’m willing to accept that a system error on my behalf. I’d really like to know how this works a bit better, and may investigate it when I’m at home again.

I’d probably prefer my balcony though.

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There are a few free web hotspots in Canberra including near a caffe in Dickson and also near Sizzo Bento in Woden Plaza across from Bakers Delight

At that price I’ll never use such a service. Madness.

Especially with IE, please use firefox

sounds pretty risky just entering your credit card details into a website you find on an 802.11 wifi channel… is it Azure or just someone else after your CC details?

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