Paris WiFi

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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.