Set WiFi free

Over on Kiwiblog DPF guiltily confesses to using someone elses open Wireless connection for some internet time, and a trivial amount of data. There are several things wrong with this picture:

1: It isn’t normal to find open wireless connections in NZ. The reason for this, of course, is that we pay for MB usage, unlike in the USA where things are typically uncapped.

The implications of this are manifold, but the first is that if you open your laptop in any reasonable dense area in the USA the you are bound to find several open connections to borrow. The second is that if you surf in pretty much any US based cafe, then you are surfing for free, and the third is that the sheer volume of stuff you download for free means that Apple through iTunes can reasonably expect people to use GB’s of bandwidth to rent movies. Te reverse is true n NZ, and as a result the internet is not pervasive nor that useful.

2:  David felt guilty about using the open connection. To me, unless you crank up the P2P programs or hit pr0n sites, you should not feel guilty about using a free wifi port instead of getting raped by mobile data charges. But you should make sure that you are playing the game fairly by having an open connection at home.
3:  We are miles away from mesh networks – to me these are the logical future, where we wirelessly connect to each other to send local traffic and reduce our dependence on the telco lines to the house. We’ll still need huge pipes conneced to the global internet, but this will reduce last mile costs. Until we have critical mass of wifi ports open, and until we get rid of any ideas that you can charge money for wifi, then we are not on the path to maximising our bandwidth for least infrastructure cost.

Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “Set WiFi free”

  1. There’s been a recent thread on NZLUG about offerring free wifi to neighbours, and an article by Bruce Schneier (a leading computer security guru) has some interesting discussion:

    Whenever I talk or write about my own security setup, the one thing that surprises people — and attracts the most criticism — is the fact that I run an open wireless network at home. There’s no password. There’s no encryption. Anyone with wireless capability who can see my network can use it to access the internet.
    To me, it’s basic politeness. Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea. But to some observers, it’s both wrong and dangerous.

    He points to FON who have some software and hardware to help share your wireless – it sets up a private secure network for your use and shares a public network, with an option to charge for it and make money. If you share yours for free, you get free access to all the other FON-spots around the world.


  2. Great idea, and definitely one I support. However the only way wifi can be freed in this country is if the data caps are removed. I’m totally happy to open my wifi connection to the public, but not if it means I’m reduced to dial-up speed because my neighbours or people in the cafe downstairs used my limit for the day/month.

    I think one reason to feel guilty about using someone’s free wifi in NZ is that the most likely scenario is that they’re a novice and don’t know how to protect their connection – more likely than that they’re paying for unlimited broadband and happy to share.


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