What Is SOWN

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SOWN (Southampton Open Wireless Network) is a student led project supported by the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science. An offshoot of the Southampton University Wireless Society (SUWS), SOWN aims to be a research and development group for wireless technology. It also aspires to provide community based wireless coverage for the city of Southampton.


SOWN's primary aspiration of providing community based wireless coverage for the city of Southampton is enabled through a wide ranging set of technologies. These broadly breakdown into four separate areas, each of which is discussed in the following four presentations:


Much of our work goes into developing various wireless technologies, testing hardware and software and deploying infrastructure in the form of wireless access points around the city. We also work on our wired infrastructure, as we have several core servers dedicated to providing the various services to allow the network to work.

Nodes and access

Our wireless coverage is executed in two ways. Around campus there are several wireless nodes that people can connect to. These are directly connected to the University's network, so students can access the internet at high speed.

In areas not covered by the campus nodes, we have nodes in student's houses. These SOWN[at]HOME nodes give authenticated access to the student's ADSL and the SOWN network. The idea is to have sufficient nodes deployed so that there is wireless coverage in most parts of Southampton. In addition, we continue to develop more powerful campus nodes and long-range transmitters so that we can offer 'back-link' connections to remote sites.

What are these SOWN[at]HOME nodes and who can use them?

Specific instructions on how to get on the network can be found on our How to Connect page.

SOWN[at]HOME nodes are basically Wireless Access Points or Hotspots. They offer authenticated use of the host's internet connection. We have designed them to be Plug'n'Play devices which are all centrally managed and maintained. They all have congestion control and upload bandwidth throttling, so hosts can be assured that they will not flood their ADSL connection.

Authentication is handled centrally against Southampton's ISS authentication servers, so any current student or staff members of University of Southampton can log in. Students of the School of Electronics and Computer Science can also log in using their 'wireless credentials'. Future arrangements are being looked into so that we can also authenticate members of eduroam, University of Southampton alumni, and zepler.net accounts (ECS alumni).

What Services do we offer?

In consort with its hardware and wireless access, SOWN also provides several other services to its users. Among these are an Asterisk Voice Over IP (internet telephone) server (deployed but under development), multicast audio/video and IPv6. Within the SOWN Project Group we are also working on: IP mobility (the ability to move seemlessly between access points without loosing your connection), 802.1x (advanced network authentication) and Wireless Location Tracking (using the signal strengths of various Access points around you to determine your location).

Interested in Joining?

We are always looking for new members. We hold weekly meetings, where we discuss the latest issues relating to the development of SOWN and we also run regular 'Saturday Surgeries' where we get the chance to get our hands dirty, and play with the various hardware/software involved. If you are interested in joining SOWN, feel free to contact us or to join us on IRC. We will be looking for new SOWN[at]HOME hosts for 2008/09.

Further Reading

For further information on SOWN[at]HOME Nodes, visit the SOWN(at)HOME Node page.

If you wish to know which areas are covered by SOWN, you can look at our Map.

For more technical information, try checking out our Technical section!

We have an external links page