July 24, 2003
Taking WiFi to the Streets: O'Reilly Releases "Building Wireless Community Networks, Second Edition"
Sebastopol, CA--There was a time, not long ago, when wireless
networking technology was cool. Now it's not only cool, but also
extremely useful, cheap, and can do things that wired networks will
never be able to do. In the last year, consumers have purchased
millions of wireless networking components. Prices have fallen
dramatically and more manufacturers have integrated wireless into their
products. You can find wireless access in coffeehouses, parks, schools,
offices, and homes. "What is it about wireless networking that has so
many people worked into such a frenzy?" asks author Rob Flickenger in
his new edition of Building Wireless Community Networks (O'Reilly, US
$29.95). According to Flickenger, it's easy to understand.
"Wireless data networking is probably the most 'magical' technology to
evolve in recent times," says Flickenger. "Think of it: by installing
an inexpensive PC card, your laptop can suddenly send and receive data
at a very high speed, to anyone in range, even through walls! Many
laptops have dispensed with the PC card altogether, and seem to
magically just 'be' online. Combined with the power of the Internet,
your tiny battery-powered computer can now communicate globally."
Flickenger has worked with 802.11b technology, commonly known as WiFi
(wireless fidelity) since its public release. The first edition of
"Building Wireless Community Networks" helped thousands of people
engage in community networking activities. At the time, it was
impossible to predict how quickly and thoroughly WiFi would penetrate
the marketplace. Today, with WiFi-enabled computers almost as common as
Ethernet, it makes even more sense to build a community network using
nothing but freely available radio spectrum.
The new edition of "Building Wireless Community Networks" has been
thoroughly updated to keep pace with rapid changes in wireless
technology. It shows readers how to make a network available, how to
extend high-speed internet access into the many areas not served by DSL
and cable providers, and how to build working communities and a shared
though intangible network. All that's required to create an access
point for high-speed internet connection is a gateway or base station.
Once that is set up, any computer with a wireless card can log onto the
network and share its resources.
In his book, Flickenger not only provides a blueprint for setting up
wireless community networks, but prods the reader into creating a
definition of "community." As Flickenger explains, "It might refer to
your college campus where many people own their own laptops and want to
share files and access to the Internet. Your idea of community could
encompass your apartment building or neighborhood, where broadband
internet access may not even be available. This book is intended to get
you thinking about what is involved in getting people in your community
With that in mind, one of the goals of "Building Wireless Community
Networks" is to help readers get their self-defined communities
"unplugged" and online, using inexpensive off-the-shelf equipment. The
Selecting the appropriate equipment
Finding antenna sites, and building and installing antennas
Protecting your network from inappropriate access
Network monitoring tools and techniques (new)
Regulations affecting wireless deployment (new)
IP network administration, including DNS and IP Tunneling (new)
Flickenger's expertise, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for the topic,
make "Building Wireless Community Networks, Second Edition" a useful
and readable book for anyone interested in wireless connectivity.
Praise for the first edition:
"A slim, easy to follow volume on how to create a wireless
community-wide network. Instructions on equipment, antenna placement,
--Bob Schwabach, On Compters, December 2002
"A book well worth reading by anyone who is concerned about community
access to the Internet."
--Major Keary, Book News, November 2002
"While there are quite a few excellent books that teach all the 802.11b
know-how, 'Building Wireless Community Networks' is a book you can't
afford to miss. Not only is it an exemplary DIY guide to building
wireless networks and a masterpiece in terms of improvising and cutting
costs, it's also one of the most amusing books I've read
--Danny Kalev, IBM DeveloperWorks, October 2002
"A damned good read...Flickenger has done a remarkable job of squeezing
in a lot of pertinent and hands-on material in such a small amount of
space, and managed to keep it both readable and reliable
--Davey Winder, PC Pro, May 2002
"Corante recommends highly: An accessible guide to just what all the
excitement on WiFi is about and how easy it can be to set up your own
network. With details on everything from firewalls to configuration.
Includes instructions on the infamous Pringles can
--Corante-Tech News: April 2002
"I highly recommend that you get O'Reilly's 'Building Wireless
Community Networks' by Rob Flickenger. This book will give you a
excellent insight of the current status of Wireless Community Networks,
as well as some great information on network topologies,
configurations, equipment, and antennas."
--Erik Bussink, Geneva Wireless Community Network, April 2002
"It's an easy call to say that this book contains somewhere between
thousands and tens of thousands of dollars worth of advice on each of
those constructive topics."
--Glenn Fleishman, weblogger.com, February 2002
"Flickenger not only provides a blueprint to setting up wireless
community networks, but also prods the reader into creating an
individual definition of 'community.'"
--Computers in Libraries, February 2002
"Plain and simple, this is a how-to guide to building a wireless
network than spans more than just a dorm room...clear and
organized...the author has impeccable credentials...the result is the
perfect do-it-yourself manual for what many think is the future of the
--Netsurfer Digest, January 2002
Building Wireless Community Networks, Second Edition
ISBN 0-596-00502-4, 168 pages, $29.95 US, $46.95 CA, 20.95 UK
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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