Paris WiFi

My first attempt at locating the Wixos WiFi access at Gare du Nord in Paris has failed. No signal anywhere near the bus terminal, although the site FAQ says there is one at this station and that Macs are welcome. I even scanned the vicinity with MacStumbler, a wireless scanning tool for Mac OS X.

I did find another WiFi test running in the train station, setup by Intel and SFR, but had no luck either. Those guys had setup their access points on US channels 1-6 instead of using the authorized channels for France, which are 10-13. Apple ships all AirPort products set accordingly with local regulations, so my PowerBook card is listening on the 10-13 channels. The guy at the booth told me that France had unregulated the WiFi band, so they could use more channels, and that Apple did promise a firmware update to allow French customers to reach a broader range of channels. I don't know what's true or not in all that, but I think they could have done a little homework before starting their test and set their AP correctly instead of being sorry each time someone with a Mac comes to ask why their system does not work. And, please, don't blame Apple for respecting local regulations, that's not serious. It did not give me any good feelings about Intel and their capability to setup a public WiFi access. Moreover, I doubt that SFR, a mobile phone operator, is bringing anything more than being another middleman with extra markup for no added value, unless they are about to uncover some breaking new WiFi mobile phone, or where just doing some co-marketing publicity.

This, my friends, is another brilliant demonstration of the difference between user experience/interface maniacs such as Apple and the ruthless techies who think or act like this, this, this, or (last but not least) this. When you have experienced how easy and fast it is to setup a WiFi network with AirPort (you can share your own experience with other systems here), you really wonder how supposedly top-notch techies can spoil it so badly.



does that mean that if I were to buy an airport card in the US, it would not work in Europe and vice versa? Surely that defies the whole point.

Indeed. Actually I have the reverse issue in that if my AirPort card is locked on French channels, does this mean I can't use it outside France?

The small good news is that France has apparently dropped its regulation regarding the 802.11 frequency range, so there are no more limitation based on channels. One hopes that Apple will catch this and release a firmware update to unlock all AirPort cards and base stations.

I must comment this entry, as I use a Mac and live in the South of France.
Wixos has indeed put up a Wi-Fi network, but it seems that it uses channel 6.
Airport cards bought in France only work on channels 10-13.
A petition is online to get Apple to let us use all channels :
It is legal to use Wi-Fi outside in France in 58 departments (countys). That is why Apple has limited to 10-13 channels, as that is to stay legal as not everyone can use the other channels here in France.
However, an Airport bought in Belgium, USA, etc ... will work perfectly, as long as the Wi-Fi Access Point uses a channel between 1 and 13 for Belgium and other European countries, and a channel between 1 and 11 for the USA.

uhm, the wixos access in the gare du nord works fine - I used it just a week or so ago (at the end of July). I have to open up and login before I can use it, but that's the only glitch. That's using an ibook bought in the UK running OS X though - perhaps the problem is the frequencies? Even if you can't login you should still see the network in airport - I could see both.

There's a café in the extreme east end of the station, above the metro, where you can stand at little round tables and get a full signal. I believe the wixos network uses the 'mouths' of the metro stations for siting its transmitters, it just happens to fall upon the 38 bus route during this trial. If you go to the hotel de ville in the middle of town you will also get a strong signal sitting by the fountains a the north end...

Hi just my 2 cents.
I was lucky enough to go to Apple WWDC in San Francisco in June, and my Apple Airport Card worked perfectly with the local wi-fi network. I've tested it with the ones set up by Apple in the Moscone Center, and with the ones in the Starbucks.
Maybe it's a "problem" of the French Airports only? If I'm not wrong some of the frequencies used by wi-fi were colliding with some military frequencies in France...


PS: I'm italian, and my airport too =)

I would love to flash my French AirPort card. I'm useless on many networks I've come accross (in the US) because of the card I bought in Paris. It doesn't even work with the WIXOS network! So if anybody has any information about a firmware update, PLEASE post it. Also, the link for the peitition above doesn't work--the domain seems to have expired.


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