RealTime IT News

Listen to the Wireless News

Every Wednesday morning at 10 AM EST, Jim Sutton turns his home in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains into an IP radio station, broadcasting the Wireless Tech Radio show over the Internet.

The show's technical gravitas is leavened by the presence of co-hosts Steve Stroh, Editor of Redmond, Wash.-based FOCUS On Broadband Wireless Internet Access newsletter and consultant Marlon Schafer of Odessa, Wash.-based WISP Odessa Office Equipment (and sometime ISP-Planet author).

The show, which lasts an hour, broadcasts in 15 minute segments. Sutton says the aim is simple. "The philosophy is that every segment is tutorial in nature." The show has covered subjects ranging from Wi-Max technology to wireless security to an FCC NPRM on cognitive radios to a chat with Brett Glass, chairman of LARIAT, possibly the world's first WISP, founded in 1993 in Laramie, Wyo.

The three hosts have plenty of ideas for future episodes. "We have three pages of brainstorming on topics," enthuses Sutton. "No one's doing what we're doing. There's print, but this is not print."

But the show is in its infancy. "The mid-term plan," explains Sutton, "is to get about a dozen shows under our belt and then go to one of the large players to get a charter sponsor." So far, the show does have one sponsor, Nortel Networks' Kidz Online, which provides the necessary bandwidth.

The show is also looking for talent. Sutton says that he's not making the mistake of only looking for money in a community filled with innovators and iconoclasts. He expects to be able to get "marquee names" in the wireless industry to appear on the show.

The technology behind the show is more wireless than it might appear to be. The cohosts call in to the studio (often using Vonage), and when they're on the road, they generally call in over cell phones.

But the most impressive piece of wireless technology is Sutton's own Internet link. The studio is connected to a radio pointing up a mountain. The show's Internet connection jumps twelve miles to the side of that mountain, where it is connected to the wired Internet courtesy of Marty Dougherty's Roadstar Internet Services of Bluemont, Va.

Other technology is key to the show as well. The first episode had been on the air for less than fifteen minutes when the show received its first question over Instant Messenger. Sutton has both ICQ and AIM aliases for the show.

Episodes are saved in the show's archives (which are still under construction, but are already partially functional). Sutton says this allows people all over the world to listen in at times that are convenient to them, and it helps the website by smoothing out bandwidth demand over time.

Sutton's enthusiastic about all kinds of technology, embracing, among various hobbies, the flying of ultralight aircraft. In fact, Sutton says the site and the show owe a great deal to Roy Beisswenger of UltraFlight Radio, who's helped Sutton and his colleagues figure out what can and cannot be done.

Of all the technologies he's interested in, Sutton is particularly enthusiastic about Wi-Fi. "The benefit that triggered the Wi-Fi phenomenon is that it's an intuitive extension of what we're already doing," he says. "Of course, it's easier to get the service in, and it works faster and better."

Reprinted from ISP-Planet.