[clug] ... and WiFi access in Civic

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Sun Feb 17 13:23:48 GMT 2008

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Following on from my post about changing venues, I thought I'd keep the
further discussions of internet connectivity for PSIG meetings in a separate
thread, since it seemed to blossom out into an idea all its own.

When we were talking about WiFi internet access at PSIG meetings, I went out
on a limb and suggested the idea that the CLUG take on a project of running a
free WiFi access point somewhere around Garema Place for our, and the
community's, benefit.  We already know people who can set up the hardware, and
people who are competent at putting up the software if need be.  It may
require a tiny bit of fundraising each month to support it, but the benefits
to us and to the community would be quite large.

The fundamental principle I was looking at here was that most coffee shops,
etc. seem to only see providing WiFi as a way of drawing in more customers.
~From what I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), many want to lock
down what access you get or control it in some way so that only people who
have bought something can get access to the WiFi.  If we were paying for it
and maintaining it, this question would be largely eliminated - it would be
little burden on a cafe to merely provide power and a place on a wall to
attach the box.

Chris and Matt and I fleshed this idea out further in talking on Saturday.
Chris suggested a mesh of G/N WiFi routers around Garema Place to provide a
lot of coverage without having to install lots of separate connections.  This
would also mean that we could provide the access from one of the upstairs
offices, which are better protected from the vicissitudes of restaurant life.

My suggestion here is to do something similar to what Steve implemented at LCA
this year.  We have one network of unsecured WiFi but that is locked down to
prevent the more egregious abuses (e.g. no unsecured SMTP), and one
WPA-protected WiFi network which people that come along to CLUG meetings can
use.  Either hand out the pass phrase at CLUG meetings, recognise specific MAC
addresses, or whatever.  But I'd prefer to come up with something that
everyone agrees is going to work.

I'd also like to hear from those people (Steve?) who have set up public WiFi
access points as to the cost, and any legal questions that arise.  If we bathe
Garema Place in the warm glow of public WiFi, are we responsible for anything
that the public does on that network?  Are there any other legal aspects we
need to consider?  And just how much would it cost?

Getting the debate started,

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