Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


The entire country of Macedonia will be covered by Wifi, according to an announcement by Strix Systems.

There could be many uses for unlimited ubiquitous broadband.

Some of my ideas:

- Wifi webcams filming from a flock of sheep could make a great art project.

- Wifi webcams facing the stove would confirm that nothing is still turned on.

What other Wifi devices could be useful? (Even if it adapts current technology).


Hope the last one isn't off-color.

- Bonjour wardriving?
- Change your mp3 lineup on your PDA or OS-powered player (someday). Stream your audio from your home, for that matter.
- Skype on a PDA could become more than just novelty.
- Remote Assistance to your family member while touring through the mountains.
- Mr Ito infinitely available for speeches and presentations: "You're in the restroom? Will you be there for the next 30 minutes?"

this is a country that has 161 telephone subscribers per 1000 of the population... 1 television per 7 people... (facts from:

All the talk of China leap-frogging the analogue networks by going straight to digital and yet this kind of thing is happening in Europe's back garden!!!

I wonder if VoIP will be adopted, or squashed before it has a chance?

Wi-fi enabled utility meters, water, gas, electric. These could be read remotely and at regular intervals. The data could be used for Time Of Use or demand billing. Monthly/weekly/hourly usage reports available to the customer.

Public safety workers could have instant access to maps of areas to locate structures or perhaps blueprints of buildings for rescue workers?

Skype phones instead of walkie talkies or other radio infrastructure?

Wi-Fi streaming podcasts. My pocket MP3 player is replaced by a pocket Wi-Fi receiver that has an iPod/iTunes like interface to my stored media. Select the media to be played and start streaming. On demand radio.


ahhhh..wifi w/RFID tagged stuff ?? Unlimited !!!

Think of having a tag on your toothpast tube, which when thrown into the Disposal bin, reads the tag. Now it is intelligent to know that the Tube is Done status and quickyl triggers an event notice, which reads "need fresh tube of toothpaste". This is sent to your local home PC, which WIFI's the list to your local grocery store, during the day. By the evening when you get home they have delivered it to in a nice small brown bag at your doorstep. As you replenish your Fridge, it beeps on the tag and updates local pc , with "foodOnhand" status, which can be read from any wifi enable computer or across the internet !! :)-

I think someone on one or other side of this deal has been sold a pup. They are planning a network to cover '1000+ square miles'. Astute observers of Eastern European affairs, however, will notice that Macedonia is quite a bit bigger than 1000 square miles. It is in fact almost 9600 square miles in size. What is to happen to the people who lice in the other 8600 miles?

Let's be realistic about this. Even to cover 1000 sq miles really comprehensively, assuming low-density urban population, you might need in the order or 50,000 low-power wi-fi access points. Even if you were able to install 50 points a day (which you would be difficult, because you just couldn't find enough of the skilled wireless engineers you'd need) it would still take four years to roll out the network. You would also need to put some sort of fiber backhaul into place somewhere. You can't load all the traffic onto the mesh.

This is just another project with a couple of urban wireless networks. They will end up with about 1000 access points, giving good coverage in main streets and the like. That's a good application of the technology, but let's all be realistic about what can actually be achieved here.

Sorry to be a party pooper!

Alexander the Great would be proud.

I wonder about the feasibility of this, as pointed out above, but one idea is to integrate wifi webcams into a GPS navigation system, so that instead of seeing maps you can have a real-time, actual view of the place you want to go to and the places you have to pass through to get there. You can also use this to see if the person you're meeting has arrived yet (since it's real-time), or just plain "people watching". Opens up a whole new can of worms regarding privacy should the common individual be allowed access to what are effective surveillance systems, though.

Capital Skopje has around half of their population and the rest of the network should cover another 40% of the population. So they aim for 90% of population covered. Not an easy task, considering how many mountains and valleys Macedonia has. But they definitely will need the 100-dollar laptops to make good use out of the network.

I am responding to the comments on the coverage of the project. I lived in Macedonia until about three months ago and know some people at the ISP deploying the network. I was also a consultant for USAID which is putting up some of the money for the deployment.

So I know something about the design and planned coverage of the network. Although I'll admit I do not know what has been accomplished in practice.

OnNet is actually using a wWAN technology that uses a small number of high-powered cells to cover an entire metropolitan area. Although compatible with 802.11b/g, I guess it is not actually WiFi.

In design, the network was intended to cover more than 95 percent of population. Antoin is correct that Macedonia has an area of over 9500 square miles. The vast majority of the population lives in 10-15 valleys surrounded by mountains. Actually two of the valleys, Skopje-Tetovo in the north and Ohrid-Struga-Bitola in the south, probably have 90 percent. This geography is actually pretty close to ideal for wWAN technologies because cells in the mountains can be "pointed down" to cover the valleys.

I assume that the 1000 square miles being covered is in these top 10 valleys. Much of the remaining 8500, I assume, is in high mountain areas. So, shepherds and hikers will be out of luck, but most of the rest of the population will have coverage.

I am responding to the comments on the coverage of the project. I lived in Macedonia until about three months ago and know some people at the ISP deploying the network.

I can provide a vast amount of insight here since I run the Macedonia Connects project. Unfortunately the Strix press release is less than 100% accurate but the country of Macedonia IS still completely covered. The Strix systems will be deployed in the urban locations of Macedonia. The top 11 cities in Macedonia constitute 58% of the entire population of the entire country. We have also used the Motorola canopy system to extend the wireless network throughout every nook and cranny of this country. What initially started as a school connectivity project - all 460 primary and secondary schools now have broadband wireless connectivity - became a nationwide connectivity project. This project helped reduce the price of connectivity from 120 Euro to as low as 10 euro for WIFI 1G download capacity. Macedonia is a country with one of the lowest Internet penetration rates and it now has a chance to use ICT and Internet access to help them in their course of going from an undeveloped nation to a member of the EU in the next 10 years. Anyone wishing more infomation about the project can view the BBC Click Online story at

Or write to me at and I will provide you with the information you might be seeking. We have a great project here which can be implemented in many other developing nations.


In our two neighbor houses we have Wi-Fi network.We can talk with webcam by that network.From the work i can see rooms of my flat by wi-fi webcams,and if thief come to my flat i can enable alarm.WiFi technology is very usefull for me and my security.

To Glenn Strachan,

I am Director of Corporate Development at Sprint. Please contact me at I'd very much like to talk wtih you about your WiFi build-out in Macedonia. Thanks

The wireless network,which will be funded and deployed by Macedonian service provider On.Net, will cover over 1,000 square miles,making it the single largest broadband wireless network in the world.The network will provide data,voice and video capabilities to the entire Macdeonian population, totaling over 2 million people".

I am a Macedonian and I live in the centre of Skopje, the capital. When I first read about this back in September on the USAID homepage, I was overwhealmed. But the fact is that I still cannot see much of this service other than anouncements. It surely is great publicity for my country (exept for the stupid sheep jokes)but other than the schools I know of nobody that uses it, because it simply is still not there. "This project helped reduce the price of connectivity from 120 Euro to as low as 10 euro for WIFI 1G download capacity" - hope you are right and I'll get it soon (I am currently using cable internet acces for 20 EUR a month for 256kbps).

If you have a WIFI device on your laptop and you right click on VIEW AVAILABLE NETWORKS or you run NETSTUMBLER you will see the new networks. had a part of Skopje running but they will have Skopje covered by the end of the month. If you sign up for the Motorola Wireless service it is 25 Euro for more bandwidth than you are receiving now with cable modem. Many people with Cable modems are experiencing severe bouts of slowness because the ISP has "issues" with their own Internet connectivity and over subscription hardware related issues.

The publicity for Macedonia has been very good.

I live in Macedonia and I want to add a few words to this discussion. First of all, I few bad words have come in my mind as an answer to Thomas Crampton "sweet" comments, but lets put that aside.

The reality in Macedonia is that we are in the Internet Shadow. We're seeking for faster Internet on reasonable prices. The current price of the Main Telecom for Internet access is 33 euros/month for 384/128kbs DL/UL rate with 4 GB monthly transfer ?!?!? What is this, a joke? Off course, there are ISPs as a competition, but they have the fair transfer policy, this is another joke too, but at least they are trying.

To cut my post, people, we have a BIG FAT MAMA monopoly in the Internet and telecommunication industry, this fat woman is called MATAF (decision making is mainly from deutsche telecom). So, any suggestion how to work around this BIG FAT MAMA issue?

To Zar -

The only way to get around MakTel is to build an infrastructure independent of them without any cross connect requirements and an independent source of Internet access. This is what has established - a complete bypass. Their pricing schema is much more favourable than Mt.nets.

Thanks to Mr. Strachan for explaining the situation.

Moreover, I'd say Mr. Crampton's used his uncontested talent above to offer to us Macedonians how to profit by becoming a random-number-generator country-plant, but without him even knowing it. He also managed to display his inability, or lack of wish to regard the mainstream news about Macedonia becoming the first "totally" wireless state as a piece of trivia, which it is - regardless of the coverage.

Hey, how about another piece of trivia? More Macedonians (in percents)use mobile phones than US citizens.. Or More Macedonians (in percents) send text messages than in USA. Does that mean anything? Of course not. Is it even true? Well, Macedonia is in Europe, it might well be. But who cares - it's not indicative of anything.

So, next time (when feeling an urge) please unleash your libidal power to convey textually your mental image of some/many journalists' or PAs' gaussian-blurred entertainment of the truth, rather than to radiate flashes that may or may not have escaped your sublime (like, say, you need to frolick or you need to make yourself a hot cup of coffee).

Dear Glenn,

I think that it is fair to say that complete project is covered by USAID, and that Onnet is partly owned by SEAF and SEAF is partly owned by USAID. Do not forget that prime idea was to give internet to schools and offer cheap internet in rural areas. Now only commercial wifi in Skopje is interesting, covering town with few station with power of 1W (standard in Macedonia is 100mW), instaling illegaly the stations on the buildings and using free 2.4Ghz band whole range of channels.
So somebody is trying to make good profit from this.
I am user of Mtnet, and that is correct there is a cap on 4GB but afterwards you still have internet with low speed. This cost 40 Euro. Problem that has to be solved and will be in near future.
From the other side your Onnet has a price of 16 Euro for 2GB and then you have to repay.
My montly trafic is something between 15-20GB.
Tell me where we can find benefit in this offer of Onnet/SEAF/USAID donation.
Complette project whent in illegal waters, and somebody has to admit that, not only to be proud that whole country (read Skopje) is covered with expensive WiFI.

hey, all of you, you lost me with those many different opinions here, that very often contradict themselves.

i have lived in MK for the past 10 years, and am fairly up-to-date of what is happening here. or so i think. i have, on the WI-FI issue, checked only this morning, and i think these point here are correct:

-- even in skopje city, there is not as much as a 30% coverage. areas which in other places would be the first ones covered (ever heard of airports?) are not even on the map.

-- i will in the next few weeks check on countrywide coverage and report back, but if even skopje is as bad as mentioned, i fear the result will be dreadfull.

-- i do like the enthusiasm that all concerned work on this project (incl ONNETS clever ''advertising'' last night on TV), but wouldnt it help to stick to the truth, and remain with both feet on the ground?

-- a connection with 128/512Kbps, but only 128Kbps guaranteed, a max of 10Gb/month, and this still limited coverage would be in most countries considered a joke. here they consider this already business use (PLEASE: i am not kidding), and charge 130 EUR (155 USD) per month for it. correct me if i am wrong (glenn ?), but if that rate (or even the 1GB and 2GB/m private rates, which dissolve into nothing after 30 days) you expect this to be affordable to the average macedonian, you live in a dream world.

once more, stick to reality in what you publish and what you promise, incl what your limitations are, and also your pricing schemes, and even your customers, existing and prospective ones, might help you along and support you. but if one feels all of this is just another one of those hot-air baloons, you are being dropped before you even start properly.

greetings - heinz -

Folks, the network in Macedonia is rolling out to plan. It is not done yet. These things have to happen in stages. The next stage will start soon. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about Strix.

So any progress in this project? People are being mugged over here man, these prices are a real joke here, even though many people know and have the need of internet, they can't afford it. It is a shame. The most revolutionary discovery in the century is still considered a luxury in this country.

Help! Please make the monopoly of MtNet fall, we are in a black hole here and still we are talking about a country in Europe.

What I found very funny and sad at the same time is that MtNet is still promoting dial-up, I mean wtf? At the time when the internet was a revolution in my country, I used to connect through a modem and now ten years after that still the same service is being offered? PC selling companies stopped selling modems long time ago, I thought it would be the last time I hear the ugly modem sound, and now ladies and gentlemen we are witnessing a devolution of the internet in the history of one country. I never thought technology could take a swing like this, really! Watch out my friends, don't dump your old pcs and mobile phones yet, maybe you would need them again sometime!


I know that this is an old thread but I've been looking for information for a while and have found nothing.

I'm traveling to Macedonia in July 2009 and I was wondering about the nationwide wireless network.

Is it working?
If so, how to I access it? Do I need to pay? Password? I have a laptop (mac) and an iPhone, both wifi capable. I need to work while there and I'm wondering what my best options are for this? I'll be staying mostly in Bitola and Brajcino.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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One wonders what new will come out of Macedonia. The most networked country in the world back in the early 1990s was Finland, and from there Linux appeared. Read More