by rupe

Ricochet is dead for now. What are some alternatives?

As you've probably heard by now, the expensive but beloved Ricochet wireless modem service run by Metricom, Inc. is being shut down at midnight on August 8, 2001. Metricom is declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and company assets (pdf) are to be sold at auction in San Jose, CA on August 16, 2001.

While there is a chance that the service will eventually be turned back on, some discussion of possible alternatives is in order. The most obvious is the use of a celluar based, CDPD modem such as those being offered by my old Ricochet ISP, Wireless Web Connect! The disadvantage, of course, is that speeds probably will never exceed 19.2k or so, which pales in comparison to the 128k offered by the newer, grey Metricom modems.

802.11 is another option, fast, but coverage is sporadic to the extreme. has a comprehensive list of publically available 802.11 APs nationwide. However, APs seem to be creeping into more and more places recently, especially cafes and restaurants, via networks such as Surf and Sip. Starbucks is also talking about implementing a widespread 802.11 network throughout their stores.

In closing, I'm going to really miss having access to this service. I'd thrown together a very cool application to parse RSS feeds from places like CNN and Slashdot, then read them to me as I drove along in my car, and this'll be tough to do now. I guess I'll have to go back to reading news via the VT100 terminal in my lap while driving on 101.

Other people talking about this:
Ricochet's Death Sucks (
Boomeranged by Ricochet (
And I'm sure that AP and Reuters will pick up on the story at some point, but the wires won't convey how vexing and disappointing the loss of this network truly is.


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