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Wireless Networking

WiFi Offloading is Skyrocketing 152

dkatana writes: WiFi Offloading is skyrocketing. This is the conclusion of a new report from Juniper Research, which points out that the amount of smartphone and tablet data traffic on WiFi networks will will increase to more than 115,000 petabytes by 2019, compared to under 30,000 petabytes this year, representing almost a four-fold increase. Most of this data is offloaded to consumer's WiFi by the carriers, offering the possibility to share your home internet connection in exchange for "free" hotspots. But this article on InformationWeek Network Computing also warns that "The capacity of the 2.4GHz band is reaching its limit. [...] the growing number of WiFi devices using unlicensed bands is seriously affecting network efficiency. Capacity is compromised by the number of simultaneously active devices, with transmission speeds dropping as much as 20% of the nominal value. With the number of IoT and M2M applications using WiFi continuously rising, that could become a serious problem soon."
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WiFi Offloading is Skyrocketing

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  • ... my bill when my carrier exceeds the cap I imposed on their use of my WiFi hub?

    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @05:28AM (#49993237)

      Where do I send ... my bill when my carrier exceeds the cap I imposed on their use of my WiFi hub?

      This is really the whole thing.

      ISP-imposed hotspots (all I've seen) require you to log in to the carrier before you can use them. So if you're a Comcast customer, you log in with your Comcast ID, and you're on the 'net. Whoopie.

      The problem, of course, is that this is just a "foot in the door" to charging you for that usage.

      That's why I, and EFF, say you should set up your own public WiFi hotspots, bypassing those imposed by your ISP.

      I've had a NON-ISP open WiFi hotspot -- with pretty damned good range -- for about 5 years now, and only had one tiny problem with a neighborhood teenager abusing it. Nipped that right in the bud, and I didn't even have to ban her. (In fact I think she was pretty freaked out by getting the .mp3 file that called her by name and politely told her to knock it off. Ghost in the machine.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2015 @08:04PM (#49991215)

    I have my revenge!

    • Almost everybody's on 2.4 GHz, and the bands overlap with each other as well as with your microwave oven. If you can run your Wifi on 5 GHz, and don't have distance problems, it's really what you want.

      Unfortunately, while my Linksys WiFi router can use both frequencies, it can only use one at a time, and I've got a few 2.4GHz-only devices in the house, so I'm stuck with 2.4. Occasionally it gets tempting to switch it to 5 GHz and drag out its dumber predecessor to run 2.4 on. (I bought the newer one beca

  • nuking food is getting in the way of WiFi.

  • while in a skyscraper high above Chicago's Loop, and I could see 100's of AP's.

    • I'm in a quiet residential neighborhood about 10 blocks straight West of the Loop and if I walk around the house, I can see almost 40 different APs.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @08:11PM (#49991271)
    I wouldn't be caught dead sharing my wi-fi. There are companies that try to make a living threatening to sue you if they see downloads coming from your IP. Even if you're innocent it costs more to litigate than to just pay, but you're still out $5k...
    • I was thinking the same thing. I bet the cops do not initially buy the story about open WiFi when they kick your door in, put you in bracelets, and proceed to notify the news channel that they just busted a pedo looking at kiddie porn just before perpwalking you to the squad car. It would probably take weeks before some lab informed them that your harddrive is clean

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And god help you if you encrypted your hard drive. Because obviously, only someone guilty would do that.

      • Just run all the guest wifi-traffic through Tor this hides your IP-address. Yes, this will make it slower, but there will be no cops at your door. ;-)

        • Maybe.

          The problem with TOR is that it would route others traffic through your connection too. This leaves the same problem of others on your network.

          There was a couple stories a while back where people were getting their internet shut off on the three strikes rules (somewhere in Europe ) for copyright infringement and it was claimed it was because they ran TOR.

      • It would probably take weeks before some lab informed them that your harddrive is clean

        Last I heard, the backlog at the cop shops around here was measured in years, decades if you're a VIP

    • Re:Not me (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:46PM (#49991815)

      coming from your IP

      You know the public hotspot traffic is segregated to a separate IP addresses, right?

      At least that's how Comcast does it. Can't imagine there rest aren't also doing the perfectly obvious.

      There are entirely legitimate reasons to object to this stuff, but being held liable for public hotspot traffic due to conflated IP addresses isn't one of them.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        I am not sure how much that will help you. Its still on your premiss associated with your device. The prosecutor is going to just say to the judge or jury, "Which is more likely that Bob here singed on to the guest network that is always available to him in an attempt to hide his activities or that someone sat in car outside Bob's house and did all this bad stuff."

        Its not right, its not fair, its certainly not really beyond a reasonable doubt, but I would not want to bet my future on it in a court room.

        • In the cases I've read about, it was not only the downloading but also the presence on the hard disk or SSD.

          Therefore, if it just went through your AP, and not your computer, you're not going to be convicted. Criminal trials aren't technically decided on "which is more likely", although civil trials (like copyright) are.

          To get that far, of course, the authorities are going to have to go through your storage carefully. In the very best case, this is some police coming to your house, knocking, showing

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      All you do is put the open wi-fi on a different subnet, so if somebody comes after you, you can just shrug and say, "I don't know who it was".
    • Typically speaking these connections are made via a third party (such as Fon [fon.com]) who would appear as the IP address owner/ISP for that connection. So Bob buys an access voucher and accesses some kind of illegal content through my router. His connection, however doesn't go to my ISP, but is VPNed (or similar) straight to Fon, by the router. So when the feds get his IP address and they look it up they see that it is owned by Fon. They'll ask Fon who it is and, depending on how they keep their records, they'll ei

    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      The way this works with British Telecom is that you have multiple SIDs on your router. There's one you connect to that you have control over, and there are also additional SIDs like "BTWifi-with-FON" and "BTWifi-X" with separate IP address and logging that you have no control over. I think that BT internet customers have a free access to these all over the country and if they opt-out of this they can then get it disabled on their own home router. This way BT claims they literally have millions of WIFI ac

      • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

        The way this works with British Telecom is that you have multiple SIDs on your router. There's one you connect to that you have control over, and there are also additional SIDs like "BTWifi-with-FON" and "BTWifi-X" with separate IP address and logging that you have no control over.
        I think that BT internet customers have a free access to these all over the country and if they opt-out of this they can then get it disabled on their own home router. This way BT claims they literally have millions of WIFI access points all over the country, yet the experience is terrible if actually the network is on residential ADSL (upstream capped to 448kb/s for instance).

        Incidentally I've wondered whether you could just replace their ADSL or VDSL (FTTC) router with something of your own without these additional access points and still been able to access their national network of access points for free.

        Not quite the way it works bud. You DO have control over the public hotspot.. in settings you can turn it on or off.
        /my advice would be to opt into the BT wifi scheme on the BT website, connect your router with it opted in. BT then gets a wee signal from it and you are then verified and allowed on the fon network and their partners worldwide. THEN.. turn the fucking public wifi off and you'll never have a problem.. it's only ever checked once

        Also it's a trivial matter to change router. I have this pupp [asus.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With the number of IoT and M2M applications using WiFi continuously rising, that could become a serious problem soon.

    The solution is simple, get rid of the "Idiots of Tomorrow".

  • will will increase to more than 115,000 petabytes by 2019, compared to under 30,000 petabytes this year, representing almost a four-fold increase

    10 terabytes would hold all the information stored in the Library of Congress. A single petabyte is a hundred times that. Perspective [mozy.com]

    • will will increase to more than 115,000 petabytes by 2019, compared to under 30,000 petabytes this year, representing almost a four-fold increase

      10 terabytes would hold all the information stored in the Library of Congress. A single petabyte is a hundred times that.
      Perspective [mozy.com]

      Um, that's because the vast majority of the Library of Congress is text information. I'm pretty sure that their collection of cat videos is severely lacking... (grin)

    • Maybe if you're talking about just the text. A lot of books have photos. And the LoC also has the National Film Registry.

      In fact, the LoC had 186 TB of digital content over 9 years ago. [loc.gov]

  • Hmmph. (Score:5, Informative)

    by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @08:47PM (#49991509) Homepage

    The real reason for the cell companies to "offload" data is to ease the load on their networks. OK, I understand that ... and I realize that it could save me money. If I'm in a hotspot, why not use that instead of eating my limited data plan?

    But honestly, Verizon has almost gotten ridiculous with it. Little beg screens ("are you SURE you don't want to connect to wireless?" -- it was a happy day when I figured out how to kill that one), refusing to open Web pages if I'm just beyond the range of a known hotspot, and worse.

    Verizon is VERY aggressive about offloading.

    Given how much it costs to build a new tower site nowadays, I can understand, but don't be fooled: the benefit of offloading is primarily for the cell carrier, and NOT for you. :)

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      the benefit of offloading is primarily for the cell carrier, and NOT for you

      I'm not so sure about that. When you connect to a hotspot you get the benefit of much higher bandwidth. And by using more hotspots and fewer towers your cell bill is (presumably) lower than if your carrier tried to provide that level of service with towers only.

      • Depends. Right now, the best I can get into the house (without involving Comcast, and I'm not desperate enough for that) is about 4Mb, and my cell data connections appear to be better than that (things go smoother when using my phone hotspot). Next month, it's 40Mb fiber!

  • Perhaps the FCC should allocate more license-free spectrum for this purpose? 2.4GHz was only available because it happened to be shared by microwave ovens, which made the band less usable due to all the interference. How about finding a few more slices of bandwidth to allocate now that everyone is using it? Preferably under 3GHz due to its better penetrative properties.

    • Arguably they need lower penetrating frequencies to solve the problem. More access points makes things better.

    • You mean like the 5GHz band? I'm finding it just perfect, I need 2 APs (one for each floor) but I get good coverage out to the porch and balcony without the signal going too much further. My network's harder to spot and there's less interference with other people so we can cram more networks into the area. Of course I'm also a proponent of wired networking for fixed-location computers so I've usually already got ports near where I want an AP.

      • Except that with 802.11ac using 180 MHz wide channels, there's (again) only 3 non-overlapping channels. :(

        Thankfully, the enterprise APs are smart enough to automatically/dynamically changes channel-widths as interference levels change, so you can stuff 3-15 APs in an area without causing too many problems. Still can't get more than about 50-odd student devices onto a single radio, though.

  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:52PM (#49991849)

    This whole stupid scheme to have open residential WiFi everywhere is going to blow up in their faces. Sooner or later a script kiddie package will come out that sets up fake APs spoofing all the ISPs login pages to steal credentials and grab sensitive data.

    • by xtal ( 49134 )

      There are idiot proof toolkits to do this right now, and they've been around for some time..

  • Maybe companies like Comcast are fine with WiFi saturation. They have a monopoly on the cables in most localities, so if anyone is going to challenge them as a competitive ISP, they'll have to do it wireless. Too bad for them (and good for Comcast) if wireless connections are degraded to the point of uselessness.

  • Bad Management (Score:5, Informative)

    by Caviller ( 1420685 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @10:24PM (#49992015)
    I run the campus and dorm WiFi system at the university that i work at. We have many 250 room(500-750 people) residence halls that use around 30 3x3 802.11N dual band (2.4 and 5.8) access points each (we have a total of ~270 APs in 9 halls). The 2.4Ghz band is perfectly usable ALL of the time(at least 1.5Mbps usable data throughput at all times). Our students usually have around 2000-2500 devices on each band (we allow EVERYTHING except bit torrent) with game systems/appleTV/anything....we do not disallow any device as long as it doesn't impact other people.

    Now how do we keep 2.4 usable in an environment like that? We manage the crap out of it. First we only allow channels 1,6,and 11 to be used. This keeps anyone from stepping on two channels at once. We also (and this one helped a lot!) turned the N protocol bandwidth width to 20Mhz instead of 40Mhz. At 20Mhz, you have 3 completely separate channels. When the width is 40Mhz you basically chew up 2 open channels at once.....so all channels are always walking over each other. Although this does decrease raw throughput of a client, it almost doubles the amount of usable connections per radio and helps a lot with the further away users from the AP. We also do 5 minute power and channel tuning where the system keeps all that balanced as usage differs. We also do not allow anything slower then 11Mbs to connect at all. This has a two fold benefit. One being that it makes sure the client/AP stays with the closest one to it and two...and this is the HUGE biggie....it increases the efficiency of the 802.11 time slice distribution. 5.5Mbps requires 10ms per client in radio chat time that the client gets regardless of how much data it is sending or receiving. 2 and 1Mbps requires 20ms! The old 802.11b is horribly inefficient and actually causes less clients to be able to connect to a given AP. Turing of everything but 11Mbps increased AP/client concentrations around 40%. Another thing we do is NOT impose is per connection speed limits. We found this reduces amount of usable connections per AP(about 10%) and slows down everybody for no benefit 802.11 is good at balancing throughput between all clients already. We also force transfer anyone off the 2.4 band that is 5.8 capable. The last thing we do is have alarms for when the system shows very high levels of interference on the 2.4 band. Sometimes this is a bad cordless telephone or something but 90% of the time......it is a stupid microwave that went bad. In dense university living areas, they are EVERYWHERE!! Especially since the students buy the cheapest ones they can find. One bad microwave will kill 2.4 in an entire area.

    Now...all that being said...when people tell me that 2.4 is crowded and slow because it is unlicensed, I tell them no....it's just managed very, very badly. I have been wishing that one day in the future...hopefully soon as i have requested it during the public comment phase of the last few 802.11 standards...that good spectrum management would be added to the WIFI standards to help with this. The best they do now is look around and try not to be on the same channel. I wish there could be some extremely low level protocol where all access points as part of spec, discuss the rf environment and attempt to keep it sane instead of the apartment fun of 100's of APs all blasting at MAX power to try and get it's voice heard over everyone else's voice. Last time i went to a friends apartment, he was complaining his wifi was slow. When i looked at the rf information.....the noise floor was freaking -62dbm. I told him it will never work right in that environment.
    • The 2.4Ghz band is perfectly usable ALL of the time(at least 1.5Mbps usable data throughput at all times).

      Well, that'll do for checking email...

    • The nature of wireless networks in built-up areas makes them unmanagable. Try checking for APs in, say, central London. You can easily pick up fifty of them - all under different management. Impossible to coordinate.

    • In our schools, we turned off 802.11g (or lower) support (802.11n or better required) completely. Network utilization and efficiency jumped 30%. We had under 20 devices across the school district that couldn't connect after that.

      We also upped the multicast rate to 22 Mbps. This forces devices to reconnect to closer APs and switch APs when wandering around the buildings.

      Unfortunately, the local cable company has been putting their free WiFi hotspots around the city, with the ones around our schools using dir

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'm surprised you don't have issues with people using Bluetooth, wireless headphones and other devices on 2.4GHz, or setting up their own APs. There was an Apple demo a few years back where they had to ask everyone to turn off AP mode on their phones because they were killing the demo wifi with 200+ networks in a room. People just turn it on and forget to turn it off.

      I don't know how we can ever get devices to really share the 2.4GHz space now. In crowded areas with lots of mixed devices owned by different

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Try managing your APs when they are surrounded by unmanaged APs. That's what's being discussed here...
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @11:59PM (#49992331)

    Doubtless it is possible but you really need to hammer the network to do that. What is more they're ignoring that the N standard doesn't use 2.4 ghz.

    Been there done that, chumps.

    I manage a few wifi networks that routinely have a couple hundred people on them immediately next to other networks that have a couple hundred people on them next to other networks that have a couple hundred people on them... all right fucking next to each other. The only way these networks could be more on top of each other is if all the users spooned on each other.

    There aren't any issues with it. What I find fucks with wifi is big thick walls. Shocking I know... Oh and microwaves. Guy goes into the rec room to heat up a burrito or something and anyone using the 2.4 ghz networks starts to have issues. I put up amusing signs informing people of the issue.

    Regardless... most new machines are N compatible so... why not use that? I use it because I can. I don't really need the speed difference since the only thing I'd do over wifi would be to browse the internet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      N standard uses 2.4 GHz - ie it can use both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11n-2009

      The problem with "why not use 5GHz?" issue is there are still many reasons we actually see a lot of equipment using only 2.4GHz capable chips (BTW, it varies a lot around the world).

      1) Power usage. 5GHz draws significantly more power from the device. The smaller device - more important.
      2) Cost. Adding 5GHz capability to the device adds 20-40$ (data from ~half year ago) to the cost of the device. Y

      • thanks for the correction but the point is that the spectrum open to wifi is wider than they were suggesting.

        As to power usage etc... I'm mostly dealing with an office environment where people can fucking plug their shit in if they care. That said, the networks are accepting any network type you could reasonable run into. It accepts B, G, and N.

        I don't care. Its for employees to play farmville or something.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      What I find fucks with wifi is big thick walls.

      I just bought a house. One of the things I was initially pleased to find is that it was built with full-on, 3/4" sheet rock - quality construction!

      That is, until I plugged in my wifi router and tried to connect from my bedroom. I don't know what it is about 3/4" sheetrock made in 1978, but it's practically a Faraday cage. I'm contemplating setting up numerous routers with 1-antenna per room so you can get decent access everywhere in the house.

      A compromise position in the hall closet gets the bedrooms *almos

      • Why? Just run Ethernet cable through the electrical conduits. Then figure out the places where you ACTUALLY give a shit about wifi. Then make those areas accessible using a couple cheapo APs.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why? Just run Ethernet cable through the electrical conduits. Then figure out the places where you ACTUALLY give a shit about wifi. Then make those areas accessible using a couple cheapo APs.

          Small nit pick:
          Commercial, Industrial, and high density Residential use conduit.
          Low density Residential primarily uses non-metallic sheathed conductors fastened to wall studs.

        • Run low voltage lines through the same conduit as your high voltage power?
          • If you're running insulated and shielded cable then I don't see why you'd have a problem.

            I've done it myself many times and I've never had a problem with it.

            Is there likely some anal rule about it? Doubtless. But since your home was built in the 1970s we can assume you don't have communications conduits. So exactly how are you going to run able if not through what conduits you have? And again... cat 6 cable should be just fine in there. All your electrical wiring should be insulated already, so the only iss

            • It's a safety issue. You expect your low voltage wire to actually be low voltage, and safe. If there is damage within the conduit, and wires are crossed, those low voltage lines may be carrying dangerous voltage.
              • wiring an old building for ethernet is going to require some flexibility.

                In practice, you can either run the ethernet through those conduits or you canrun the cable along the walls stapling the ethernet cable around corners and stuff. You choose.

                If it bothers you, then you can install ethernet surge protectors at each socket within the wall panel. Those will run you about 5-7 dollars each.

                Up to you.

                Here is the thing, the wires in an ethernet cable aren't going to carry high voltage. The wires themselves wil

                • Ultimately, it's still a violation of the NEC. You can run low voltage signaling through high voltage conduits, provided proper wiring, but standard CAT6 and its endpoints is not rated for that. Is it going to cause any practical problems in residential wiring? Assuming you're using shielded and properly grounded CAT6, probably not, but you may run into trouble if you have to file an insurance claim or try to sell the property.
                  • worst case I have to pull the cable out of the wall which is easier than putting it in. So... I still don't care.

                • Flat Ethernet cables are very easy to push under baseboards without using any tools. I've wired up several rooms in our house using those without any issues. Currently only running 100 Mbps switches, but the cables will support gigabit (Cate5e and Cat6 are available in flat versions on monoprice.com).

      • I tried ethernet over the power line and it was incredibly slow. I switched to ethernet over coax and it worked much better for me. I then used multiple Apple Airport Extreme base stations in roaming mode. I'm sure there are a dozen other routers that will do the same thing.
    • Uhm, 802.11n most definitely works on the 2.4 GHz band. Supports up to 450 Mbps using 3 spatial streams.

      It also supports the 5 GHz band, again for 450 MHz using 3 spatial streams. It's the bridge protocol between the two bands, with g only on 2.4 and ac only on 5 GHz.

    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      How do monitor, check for and track down the interference? I've had problems in the past and would love to know how to resolve this (residential and small office)

      • I've personally never had a problem. I think most wifi issues are caused by either weak signals or big thick walls.

        Or microwaves... from satan.

        I've noticed that not all microwaves cause issues. Just certain ones.

        I suppose if you really wanted to get sophisticated about it, then you could install one of those signal analyzing apps on your phone and then graph signal strength in real time.

        But for the home or small office you're generally talking about a single access point. Its super simple. If you're having

        • by Malc ( 1751 )

          Sounds like you're not having to deal with 40+ networks visible at one time, often with multiple access points for each network. The impact of high density living and working in London.

          • Then your walls are too thin is the issue there... or consider getting some EMF shielding wall paper. There are a lot of brands and designs. Most are metal based... either some sort of aluminum or copper or nickle iron or something. Others are some sort of weird composite.

            We use the EMF dampening/shielding wallpaper on some rooms that either have very sensitive equipment or that we don't want radio signals to leave.

            As to dealing with that... professionally I deal with a building that is entirely controlled

  • I have three access points at my house: One on the second floor, one in the basement, and one in the garage. (The AP in the garage is a repeater, with a hacked router doing bridged client mode (not wasteful WDS) wired to another hacked router being a simple access point.)

    I didn't always have to do this: Back before the neighbors all had Wifi and a million Wifi widgets all streaming Netflix and Youtube, I had reasonable coverage all over my house and yard with a single WRT54G with a parabolic beer can on

  • In a tightly packed neighborhood or apartments you may have 20-30+ wifi hotspots within rage at any time, probably half of them seem to be on channel 6. I'm surprised they still work at all given the overlap in signals coming from devices from various manufactures made over the past 15 years. Then older non-wifi friendly stuff that pretty much kills any nearby wifi signals like wireless cameras, old cordless phones, baby monitors and more.
  • ...it can plug into a router for ethernet. My WiFi is dispensed by my own private router. It is not open and used only by my mobile devices (cell phones, laptops and hand-held game consoles). My main computers and game consoles get a wire.

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