Today sees a new free public WiFi network launched in the UK. Targeting underserved and ‘digitally remote’ areas of the UK, free to use access points in both public and commercial venues will be largely funded by the venue and its partners.
This has got to be good news, I tend to get in and out of Las Vegas at least two or three times a year and McCarran International Airport is the only place I know that offers truly free access. There was, apparently, quite a buzz about free WiFi hotspots for the UK springing up back in 2002, but it all seems very locked down now doesn’t it?
Now obviously I don’t really cover telecoms as I typically focus on software application development, but the Freerunner network caught my eye because it is based on open source technology with a distributed network architecture – hence, no data centres and, one would have to concede, no single point of failure.
The company says that traditional WiFi operators have based their networks on a centralised design as this was a sensible thing to do back in 2000 when you needed lots of control over your service, because distributed technology just was not available.
Freerunner says that the most critical component in its network is its access points, “We put most of the processing capability and hard work at the edge. By taking inexpensive access points and putting open source software on them we give them the power of a Linux machine. This means we run the firewall locally on the access point. We define the network rules and carry out QoS at the edge. Freerunner is able to modify what happens at the edge, across the entire network, from a simple web interface in seconds.”
As I say, this caught my eye as the terms telecoms and open source are not often used together unless you are talking about open source telecom billing systems, CRM solutions or teleconferencing software perhaps. This development seems to be at a more infrastructural level that does impact software architectures. Here’s the web site if you want to check out this news further.