Cactus Hot Spots

This summer, we’re installing several wireless 2.4 GHz Internet Access points around Moscow.  They use a new, very powerful radio which can “hear” a notebook through most walls at about a mile away.  Of course, if you add trees or additional walls, the distance decreases*.  But if you are within a mile from one of the hot spots, and there are no hills or trees or buildings in the way, we'll be happy to do a site survey to see if you can get the service.  If you're closer, with only a few trees or buildings in between, that can often work, too.  If you have a notebook which can get at least three bars on a Cactus HotSpot, you've made the test yourself - simply stop by and sign up. 

It’s high-speed Internet access, 3000K download, 768K upload in most places.  $19.95 for one computer or $24.95 for multiple computers in a household.  If your notebook can "see" a HotSpot, but the signal is too weak, we may have ways of boosting it.

As of 7/29/05, HotSpots are at (see map below)

Active Now
  • Quail Run, Moscow
  • Mark IV Restaurant, Moscow
  • Darby Road, Moscow
  • Logos School, Moscow
  • Queens Road Apartments, Moscow

Coming this summer, if all goes well.

  • Conrad Smith Apartments, Moscow
  • Henry Court (active now, but currently using another technology.  Will become a HotSpot)
  • Downtown Moscow (active now, but currently using another technology.  Will become a HotSpot)
  • Wil-Ru Apartments, 1615 S. E. Bleasner, Pullman
  • If you have an ideal location for another HotSpot, please let us know.  The ideal spot has several features:

It's located in an area with a high population density, especially of students and professional people.  The host location has stable ownership (long-term) and can be seen by over 100 dwellings.  We'll need power and probably a phone line.

The host family or business gets free high-speed Internet access.

* Wireless 2.4 GHz signals do not go through hills.  They are also stopped by metal, such as steel-reinforced concrete, refrigerators, or walls with foil-backed insulation.  The signal is degraded but not stopped by brick and concrete and trees.  Some trees are worse than others - pines are especially bad, and the thicker the leaf canopy, the worse the degradation.  Walls degrade the signal as well, and the farther away from the source, the weaker the signal will be.  Even rain, snow or fog in the air will degrade a 2.4 GHz signal.

Windows don't seem to bother the signal much.  Frame and sheet-rock walls are not transparent, but not bad.

Some wireless radios are definitely better than others.  Many inexpensive, older notebooks have radios which can barely function, let alone get a good connection at a distance, and some notebooks are quite good.  The quality and shape of the antenna also makes a huge difference.  All else being equal, limiting the view of an antenna increases its sensitivity.  For instance, you can expect a 90 degree "corner" antenna to be about four times as sensitive as a 360 degree "omni" antenna.  The 15 db directional "dish" antennas have a wider view than the more powerful 25 db dish antennas.