Wireless contestants will try to cobble together a network

The campus of George Washington University in Washington tonight will be the site of a competition to create an ad hoc wireless network using low-tech tools.

'We're trying to cover the campus using Pringles cans and laptops with no backbone,' said Rob Daniel, an instructor and graduate student in the school's Electronic and Computer Engineering Department. 'It's peer-to-peer at the network end.'

The Urban Wireless Challenge is being held in conjunction with the Secure Trusted OS Consortium Symposium, being held at GWU.

Five teams of five members each'both students and conference attendees'will compete to pass a mobile agent from computer to computer, covering as much of the campus as possible. They will use notebook PCs running the Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems; Orinoco wireless network interface cards; and antennas built from empty cans of Pringles potato crisps.

'We're trying to build a network in a hostile, radio frequency-unfriendly environment,' Daniels said.

Each team will start with one member at the college's Marvin Center and must pass a Java applet to team members around the campus, returning to the starting point in an hour. Each team will be scored according to the number of nodes it passes the applet to and the complexity of the route.

The contest could have real-world applications.

'We hope to gather statistics from this to build models for real networks,' Daniels said.

Such models could useful for establishing ad hoc networks without backbones of the fly in hostile environments, such as combat situations, said Rod Durham, a member of the symposium's board.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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