Patras wireless metropolitan network

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Patras wireless metropolitan network
PWMN logo
Network Name (short) PWMN
Location Peloponnese, Greece
Home page http://www.pwmn.net/
Nodes database PWMN database
Active users Approximately 160 as of March 2010
Operational Yes
Commercial No

Patras Wireless Metropolitan Network (PWMN) is a free (as air), open wifi network community of individuals who all share the same hobby; building and managing wireless networks. Currently PWMN is the dominant wireless network community in Patras, Greece. It has about 100 active members (Mar 2010) who are the individual node owners of this metropolitan area network and it is connected through wireless links with over 8 Greek regional units (Achaea, Elis, Messenia, Arcadia, Aetolia-Acarnania, Phocis, Corinthia, Ionian Islands) with wireless links (on the PMWN side) of up to 105 km.[1][2] It came into existence after the merging of the two previous dominant wireless networks in Patras, namely Patras Wireless Network and SPN in early 2007. It is a non-profit organization which aims to explore network technologies (basically wireless 802.11) and new computer associated technologies in general.

The Plan[edit]

A shared vision of most PWMN members is what they call the Free Internet which is a global computer network where its users are at the same time the ISPs, contribute to its development (hardware/software) and is free for everyone to access. The concept is similar to the one followed in the free source software context. The first steps towards this vision is to connect all the already well-established wireless community networks of all the major Greek cities together, thus forming one of the largest (at least area-wise)wifi networks ever. Part of this vision become a reality recently, when the final links between PMWN and MSWN (Messinia Wireless Network) in Messenia were established. The whole network now spans over more than 200 km from side to side and is estimated to serve more than 250 people [3]- (all with wireless links, all open, all free)

Project history[edit]

PWMN is relatively new (early 2007) but its roots trace back to 2001 when the first wireless network community in Greece was formed: Patras Wireless Network(PWN). The second part of PWMN comes from a totally independent wireless community network, SPN which was being deployed since 2004 in parallel with PWN. In 2006 SPN boasted a faster backbone than PWN, more enthusiastic active members, and a more open/distributed management than the older, more conservative and centrally-managed PWN. In early 2007, most PWN and SPN members decided to overcome their differences and form a totally new network community with members from both networks, following the distributed management system used by SPN, which proved to work better in the community context. Since then PWMN has grown and is now better than ever.

Location[edit]

Western Greece Wireless Network

PWMN is, in the most part, based in the city of Patras and its suburbs. Patras' shape and geophysical characteristics (mainly hills) has made it quite difficult to establish wireless links around the whole city. This is because the links require Line of sight. Despite the difficulties, PMWN boasts double or triple-way backbones which together with the dynamic routing protocol used (OSPF), makes the whole network very robust and very fast. Recently, following the shared vision, the network has started to cover a much wider area, aiming at linking all of mainland Greece. This is not a trivial task since most cities are separated by sea, big mountains and large distances. So far, PWMN has managed to establish long distance links up to:

On late 2009, the major wireless communities of western Greece, set-up their last remaining long distance links which would link them together. Since then PWMN has become part of the broader wireless community network that covers a large part of western Greece (which we tend to refer to as Western Greece Wireless Network).[4]

Design[edit]

The hardware used in PWMN is off-the-shelf 802.11a, 802.11b Wireless devices which operate in 5.4 GHz and 2.4 GHz license-free ISM bands. The actual Computer Hardware used for the Wireless routers can vary from simple Wireless access point to small Single-board computer(SBCs) up to conventional PCs.

The Routing protocol currently used (March 2010) is OSPF, a dynamic routing protocol using a distance vector algorithm. Since the actual network deployment gets more and more meshed with multiple paths from one node to another, the network could benefit by a smarter dynamic routing protocol such as OLSR which is already in use in parts of Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network.

PWMN relies mainly on open source software, and Linux is used to support many PMWN services.

The services used throughout PWMN cover a wide range. One of the main services is the PWMN forum which is the main place for open discussions concerning the network. The PWMN wiki project[5] aims at creating a big knowledge base for all the challenging aspects of wireless networking. As such it contains various Guides, Tutorials, Member's own designs and even networking equipment reviews. PWMN relies heavily on the WiND project to create a map of the wireless nodes and links using actual terrain info. PWMN users prefer to use IRC for their instant messaging needs; the IRC servers throughout the network are connected to a broader network of IRC servers (HWN:Hellenic Wireless Network) which serve all of the Greek Wireless Communities. There are plenty more services like Game Server, File sharing, VOIP, VPN, DNS, Network monitoring and plenty others.

Since late 2010, most of the public Access Points of PWMN, although independently managed, have a common centrally managed Hotspot website engine which introduces the Wireless Community to the guest clients in a uniform way across the community. This Hotspot engine gives the clients access to useful community services (that is IRC, Discussion Forum, WiND project's Map of Network nodes etc.) so that all clients can easily get to know more about the network and get in touch with the community members. The statistics gathered so far, show that there are about 1000 guest clients per month accessing Hotspot website.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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