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Main.EwoutVonkr1.1 - 31 May 2007 - 08:43 - HansGeers

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Since a couple of years many developments have taken place in the field of IT. Two of these (relevant to this thesis assignment) are: The rise of Open Source Software (OSS). The rise of wireless Internet access at so-called 'hotspots'.

The first development has caused the increase of usage of OSS in commercial products. Due to the licensing conditions of OSS, the source code of the commercial software needs to be freely available. This offers interesting opportunities.

The second development is the introduction of wireless Internet access. A so-called 'hotspot' is a location that offers wireless Internet access to anyone using a laptop, PDA, etc. The wireless Internet access is based on the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Devices conforming to this standard are used more and more in mobile devices such as laptops and PDAs. Public institutions are getting equipped with Wi-Fi (are being transformed to hotspots), such as hotels, restaurants, airports, train stations, trains, but the technology is also available within companies.

At these locations quick and easy access to the Internet is assured by Wi-Fi technology. A few companies put up and maintain hotspots, such as T-Mobile, KPN and Swisscom. In general these hotspots are composed of a local network and a remote central server. The largest problem is the fact that such systems differ for each Wi-Fi provider and thus are hard to interconnect. Each provider uses its own methods of logging in and has different rules when it comes to the usage of the hotspots. The one might require downloading software in order to use the wireless network, the other might only use readily available hardware and software and is insecure because of that. Mobidot is one of these companies.

The development of software which manages wireless networks is the core business of Mobidot. It is Mobidot's intention to put up a network of Wi-Fi hotspots, on which Wi-Fi providers can offer Internet access to their customers.

Providing a continuous, fast and low cost Internet connection is what competitors are trying to achieve with the deployment of hotspots. To achieve this goal, several problems have to be solved: a user should be able to make use of the hotspot in the same way at each hotspot of each provider. To deploy as much hotspots as possible, the costs for deployment and maintenance of hotspots should be reduced.

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