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Wireless Networking Communications Toys Hardware Hacking Hardware

Dan Rutter Suggests Tossing Some Wi-Fi At the Neighbors 225

Posted by timothy
from the well-not-in-so-many-words dept.
A few days ago, Dan Rutter (the Dan in "Dan's Data") published an interesting idea for extending the sort of philanthropic technical pranksterism that spawned throwies by applying the same approach to Wi-Fi. That means, looking what he hopes is not too far down the road, creating Wi-Fi repeaters that are cheap enough to deploy on the sly and frugal enough with power to run on solar power or cheaply replaceable batteries. But as he says, "If you've got a lot of spare money, a ladder and no respect for private property, though, you could already be stealthily deploying Open-Mesh or other such gadgets all over your neighbourhood." In some cities at least, you'd be hard pressed to ever avoid at least one available wireless access point, but that's not the experience for most people, most places -- which bears correction.
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Dan Rutter Suggests Tossing Some Wi-Fi At the Neighbors

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spikedvodka (188722) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:23AM (#23290614)
    It's an interesting idea... but here's the thing I can't see the ISPs letting something like this happening.

    Also, what's to prevent somebody from stealing one of the boxes, and causing an outage... or modifying the firmware on one of these boxes to sniff for passwords?

    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:41AM (#23290704)
      Whats to say that the open network isn't already sniffing for passwords ect.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:58AM (#23290804) Homepage

      Also, what's to prevent somebody from stealing one of the boxes,

      You need to make sure that the boxes are cheap and plentiful, so that stealing them is about as exciting as stealing a plastic bag from a supermarket.

      causing an outage

      If it's done right (e.g. using mesh networking technology), breaking just a few nodes should not cause an outage.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jamesh (87723) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @09:39AM (#23291030)

        You need to make sure that the boxes are cheap and plentiful, so that stealing them is about as exciting as stealing a plastic bag from a supermarket.

        How much battery would be required to run something like a WRT54GL at reasonable latitudes assuming the only external power input is solar? I would think that the batteries and solar cells would be the more attractive things to steal, and if you can make them as cheap as plastic bags from a supermarket then you've solved a whole load more problems than community wireless :)
        • Power issues (Score:3, Interesting)

          by klapaucjusz (1167407)

          I would think that the batteries and solar cells would be the more attractive things to steal, and if you can make them as cheap as plastic bags from a supermarket then you've solved a whole load more problems than community wireless :)

          That's a very good point.

          I don't think that using solar-powered devices is economically feasible; you really need access to external power.

          In cities, there's power in every streetlamp, and we need to find ways to get the municipal authorities to give us access to that,

          • by Dan541 (1032000)

            I don't think that using solar-powered devices is economically feasible; you really need access to external power.

            But people will be too stupid to realise that until they have an overcast day.
          • by marxmarv (30295)

            In cities, there's power in every streetlamp, and we need to find ways to get the municipal authorities to give us access to that, and in every café or restaurant, and we need to explain to café owners that it's just a few watts.

            Metricom [wikipedia.org] read utility meters over their mesh data network. If you can add value like that, you're in.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @09:49AM (#23291084)
      Nobody so far has said anything about your point that ISPs won't like it.

      One would hope (yeah, I know...) that people on some kind of open mesh network might think to be a little more secure with their passwords, CC numbers, etc.

      For some time, ISPs had clauses in contracts that only allowed a single computer to use a connection. With NAT so easy to implement, they relaxed that stipulation. But if subscribers start providing free internet to their neighbors, and especially if that network gets expanded as per suggestion, ISPs will probably start disconnecting users that abuse their policies.

      And sure, people could figure out ways to spoof it, but if the technology is simple enough and the use gets widespread, ISPs will figure out how to detect these networks and get compensation for the misuse.
      • by sayfawa (1099071)
        But if subscribers start providing free internet to their neighbors, and especially if that network gets expanded as per suggestion, ISPs will probably start disconnecting users that abuse their policies.

        And sure, people could figure out ways to spoof it, but if the technology is simple enough and the use gets widespread, ISPs will figure out how to detect these networks and get compensation for the misuse.


        I've been wondering about this. If and when mesh networks take off, what do we need the ISPs for
        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @10:50AM (#23291556)
          Dude, there is nothing magic about an ISP. You could pay for a T1 or so and be your own ISP. You can set up your own hardware. Just be prepared to pay for it - the exact same way your ISP does.

          Being an ISP is not anything that special. You just have to be willing to pay the costs, deal with the business aspects, deal with the legal aspects, and if you have employees, deal with income tax, unemployment tax, etc.

          It's not like being an ISP is something willed or auctioned like season tickets or anything.

          You can be an ISP, or even eliminate needing an ISP. All it takes is money.

          You see, that is what ISPs provide - they handle all the business side of things and charge individual subscribers some reasonable amount for access through cable, DSL, digital cell access, etc.
          • by sayfawa (1099071)
            Yes, that's exactly what I was expecting/hoping. But with mesh networking we don't need the infrastructure connecting that T1 to the rest of the city that we now depend on the ISPs to provide. And that also means no employees and all that other stuff you mentioned. Just the first connection and the mesh repeaters, which the users themselves buy and setup.
            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              Connecting to the rest of the city would be nice for some things, but if you want to connect to the internet, and not just your city intranet, you're going to have to connect to some big pipe eventually.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by karnal (22275)
                I actually heard somewhere that the correct definitions is "a series of tubes." Some other junk about trucks in the tubes or something....
                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by Yvan256 (722131)
                  Well, duh. The series of tubes only work for intranet-style networks, like a city. As soon as we're talking inter-cities, you need big, huge trucks. That's where the huge latency comes from and gets you killed in your favorite online game.

          • If you model internet access as people lower on the totem pole buying bandwidth from people higher on the totem pole, then, absent an infinite regression, you eventually have to get to somebody at the top.

            Originally, this was the ARPANET backbone, later replaced by the NSFNet backbone---once you got to the government infrastructure, you could get anywhere else.

            This has since been replaced by a set of large ISPs, the "tier 1" providers, who interconnect with each other for free, and sell bandwidth to everyon
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shajenko42 (627901)

          Isn't just about every government in possession and in charge of maintaining part of one of those fat underwater cables that brings and sends the data to other countries? Why should they only let ISPs, universities and other government organizations feed off the teet?
          Because ISPs bribe, er, give campaign contributions to important politicians.
          • Please see my post above.

            You could be an ISP if you wanted to. That's what all that stuff about telcos having to install ISP equipment in their facilities was about.

            There is nothing magic about being an ISP. All it takes is money and effort.

            If you became an ISP, then you could have your own customers, bribe your own politicians (don't quite understand why, though), and fret about customers stealing bandwith from you so they could set up their own free WiFi networks while they bitch and complain abo
          • Isn't just about every government in possession and in charge of maintaining part of one of those fat underwater cables that brings and sends the data to other countries? Why should they only let ISPs, universities and other government organizations feed off the teet?
            Because ISPs bribe, er, give campaign contributions to important politicians

            The big fat pipe is often privately owned and operated:

            Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe [FLAG] [wikipedia.org], Reliance Globalcom Transmission Network [flagtelecom.com]

            FLAG is 28,000 km of subma

        • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @02:27PM (#23293364)
          The problem with visions of mesh based networking taking over the world is that there is no solution to the problems of overload that a full mesh infrastructure brings - you need supernodes which have fast direct connections between them for long-distance traffic, and someone has to pay for those (at present ISPs). While in principle the internet is one big mesh and you can route around problems (a great design), in practice it works because most packets take a very direct route to another computer, say through 10 hops or so. If they went through 60-100 hops, you'd be looking at a massively slower internet. At the end of those fat pipes are modems and servers which let you talk to the internet, and someone has to pay for those (at present it's not the gov).

          I think ISPs will eventually be the answer to this problem, not an obstacle. Ultimately they stand to gain from distributing routers that share the service with passing users from any other ISP (peering agreements could make it universal). Eventually we'll all live in an inter-connected cloud, and perhaps eventually the role of ISPs will change to a utility or a public monopoly, but at present they're the best hope we have for instigating something like this.

          You can already see this happening with initiatives like fon and wifi networks like The Cloud. Hopefully ISPs will wise up sooner rather than later to the massive income they could achieve by micro-billing everyone instead of trying to charge loads for fixed connections.

          When I walk down the streets of the city I live in, there are no less than 10 wireless access points visible almost everywhere - we already have a mesh, it's just not connected yet.
      • by bcrowell (177657)

        Nobody so far has said anything about your point that ISPs won't like it. [...] For some time, ISPs had clauses in contracts that only allowed a single computer to use a connection. With NAT so easy to implement, they relaxed that stipulation. But if subscribers start providing free internet to their neighbors, and especially if that network gets expanded as per suggestion, ISPs will probably start disconnecting users that abuse their policies.

        The article actually does refer to this, but only at the very end:

        Most ISPs have anti-sharing requirements in their license agreement, but as long as mesh users don't in the aggregate do anything more obnoxious than a typical user would do (and mesh hardware can be set to throttle the bandwidth available to each individual node, preventing one porn fiend from absorbing 99% of the bandwidth 100% of the time), the ISPs a mesh connects to are unlikely to care, or even notice.

        This makes very little sense to me. If I saturate my neighborhood with wifi, but it's all going through my own individual cable modem connection, then the results are pretty predictable. First my cable modem connection will get so slow that it will drive me nuts. Then my ISP will disconnect me for excessive use of bandwidth.

        Of course we can now insert the usual slashdot discussion of bandwidth caps. Yes, it's dishonest of ISPs to c

  • It's a...! (Score:3, Funny)

    by maxume (22995) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:23AM (#23290618)
    Make sure to include a nondescript box and some blinking lights in the setup, we wouldn't want anybody to mistake it for any sort of improvised device.
  • I like it (Score:4, Funny)

    by chuckymonkey (1059244) <charles,d,burton&gmail,com> on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:27AM (#23290630) Journal
    I really like the idea that this guy has, but I hate to think about the crazy ISPs would release on us if people started doing this. They're as bad as the media companies for wanting control over networks. I can just see it now, every repeater that you install is considered a lost sale with potentially thousands of users using it. Cease and desist or we will sue you for one brazillion dollars. Yet another argument for treating the internet like a public utility, just one that you can opt out of if you so choose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Service is intended for one household only. And you're going "OMG GREEDY ISPS!!!" because they want to make money? It's their service! The greedy bastard here, is you. Newsflash: It's not your service. Feel free to make a personal wireless network that doesn't connect to the ISP's network, but don't be stealing their service "just because you can". Bad as the media companies for wanting "control over networks"? Here they'd just stop it because it's people are breaking the terms of agreement. It's N
      • Re:I like it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:53AM (#23290770)

        Service is intended for one household only.

        So? Years back, "service" was intended for one computer. We got ourselves routers because it was quite silly that providers were charging on a per computer basis. It just didn't make sense. Yes, some bits were different, but it were still just that, bits. Story is still the same now.

        • Re:I like it (Score:5, Interesting)

          by westlake (615356) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @09:40AM (#23291042)
          So? Years back, "service" was intended for one computer. We got ourselves routers because it was quite silly that providers were charging on a per computer basis. It just didn't make sense

          So they go back to charging you by the megabyte. Full commercial rates for the five to fifteen households you are now servicing.

          • Re:I like it (Score:4, Insightful)

            by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @10:06AM (#23291198)
            Exactly. This is what is going to happen - metered Internet use.

            And it will happen because some people abuse their connections and allow others free use of service they are not paying to support. Another pressure to move to metered use is because of file sharing.

            But both will cause a change in Internet contracts. Maybe some fixed price as long as users stay below some data level, but tiered pricing after that level based on data transferred. Or even a straight cost per megabyte.

            Whenever something good comes along, there will always be those that look for how it can be exploited to their advantage. Eventually the holes will get closed by some kind of draconian measure and everybody will be the worse for it.
            • by ceoyoyo (59147)
              Hate to tell you, but I've never seen an unmetered Internet connection. Even though they SAY it's unlimited, try testing that out and find out if it really is.

              Besides, metered is the way to go. The "unlimited" accounts are set up so most people waste most of it, putting more money in the provider's pocket. Once the mesh gets going properly you won't need the provider anymore anyway.
            • by Twinbee (767046)
              Actually metered use is just as bad/good as non-metered systems, *providing* the rates average out to the same costs overall (yes, the more heavy internet users would pay extra, and the light users would actually pay less than what they currently pay).

              No one would moan if metered access was so cheap that it costs 0.000001 cents per hour of use. That's what it would lead to eventually, and by that point it would probably be just a public service like roads and parks.
          • They could, but that would probably be a loss from them. Price per Gigabyte is rather low these days, the current pricing schemes actually benefit ISP's, since 80% of the people is paying for something they don't really use.

            Full commercial rates for the five to fifteen households you are now servicing.

            Why commercial rates? No-ones mention business use here. Second, just because people share stuff, doesn't mean some is servicing another. I don't even know what "servicing" means in this context?

        • by phulegart (997083)
          We didn't get ourselves routers because it was "silly that providers were charging on a per computer basis"...

          We got routers so we could have multiple computers share a single internet pipe that was coming into our homes. It didn't matter if the ISP said something about only one connection=one computer. We definitely did not add the ability for all the computers in our home to get online at the same time, because something was silly.

          But I agree with the sentiment in a few posts that if something like what
          • We got routers so we could have multiple computers share a single internet pipe that was coming into our homes. It didn't matter if the ISP said something about only one connection=one computer.
            Then we could have used switches as well. But at least here (Netherlands) we couldn't nor was it allowed (use of routers wasn't even allowed according to the service agreement).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WK2 (1072560)

        Service is intended for one household only.

        The ISP sells me bandwidth, not service for a household. Also, people don't use Wi-Fi as a substitute for cable. It's much too slow and inconvenient, and service is somewhat sporadic. People use Wi-Fi temporarily, such as when they are at a friend's house, or a coffee shop, or their home modem is malfunctioning. If someone wants and can afford high speed internet access in their home, they will pay for cable or DSL.

        I live in a large apartment building, and share my cable service via Wi-Fi. It gets used,

        • The ISP sells service with a bandwidth cap for those that use a lot of it and impact others who pay for and expect certain bandwidth levels with their connection.

          And a lot of people use WiFi permanently - not temporarily. It isn't so easy to retrofit most houses with ethernet.

          What you are doing is rationalizing theft and misuse.

          Read your contract. It's what you supposedly agreed to. If you now decide to do as you please, and steal bandwidth for your neighbors because it makes you some kind of hero,
        • by Lumpy (12016)
          Also, people don't use Wi-Fi as a substitute for cable.

          really? I'll bet you $100US that MOST home networks are wireless and not wired. Buffy and Joe Sixpack are too lazy and undereducated to run Cat5 all over the house. They buy a Wireless router, plug it in, and then use the wireless for their PERMANENT network wiring in the home. hell MOST brand new homes built today do NOT have any networking wires in them unless the owner asks for it to be installed. (most new home wiring is so half assed it's not f
          • by Tacvek (948259)

            Also, people don't use Wi-Fi as a substitute for cable. really? I'll bet you $100US that MOST home networks are wireless and not wired. Buffy and Joe Sixpack are too lazy and undereducated to run Cat5 all over the house. They buy a Wireless router, plug it in, and then use the wireless for their PERMANENT network wiring in the home. hell MOST brand new homes built today do NOT have any networking wires in them unless the owner asks for it to be installed. (most new home wiring is so half assed it's not funny, but that's a pet-peeve of mine.) Yes MOST people do this, the non techies outnumber those of you that even know what a Cat5 Cable is 600 to 1.

            You have some good points. I'll first argue that most people probably still have only one computer, a desktop, so use neither (except perhaps a short stretch of cat5 to connect the DSL or cable modem (when it is not a USB model)). Then when 2 or more computers are in the same room, cat5 is probably more common. However, when their are laptops involved, or longer distances, Wifi does seem likely. Personally, I prefer everything stationary to be wired, and anything mobile to use Wifi. (The stationary items m

        • by ukemike (956477)
          Have you read your ISP terms of service? I seriously doubt that you are simply paying for bandwidth with no limitations on its use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vertinox (846076)
        Service is intended for one household only. And you're going "OMG GREEDY ISPS!!!" because they want to make money? It's their service! The greedy bastard here, is you. Newsflash: It's not your service.

        What about people who lease business SDSL and/or T1s?

        It's NO DIFFERENT THAN COMMON CABLE THEFT. Oh, do you support stealing that, too?

        So is Comcast/Timewarner stealing bandwidth of the websites you visit? Cable service is a one way street. Internet connections are not. It is not actually illegal to share your
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          "It is not actually illegal to share your bandwidth with you neighbor whereas stealing cable is. Yes, it breaks the EULAs but they aren't law and all the ISP can do is terminate your service."

          And it is OK for people to just decide that contracts they sign and agree to are no longer valid because???

          It really is stealing, moron, and you know it. All you are doing is trying to justify it and find some way to appease what little conscience you might still have.

          What is worse for your ISP is that you ar
          • There is a simple answer. What you are doing is wrong. It really is that simple.
            If you want to convince anyone, you actually have to provide an argument, rather than simply making a statement.
            • Wow! Cool! It's neat-O how you took a statement out of my post, ignored the arguments, and then said I should provide an argument if I was to convince anyone.

              Maybe you too should read the very last line in my post that you replied to...
              • I didn't quote the whole post, because that would be a waste of space. Your post can be summarized with "It's stealing revenue, don't do it, you're wrong, it's illegal, you're stupid". That's not an argument; that's a rant. Provide a rational coherent argument as to how and why sharing a wi-fi connection hurts the ISPs, or no-one is going to take you seriously.

                Think about some of these questions:
                Would the people using the open service have bought their own connection if the open service didn't exist? How ma
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  You should think about these questions:

                  Why not ask your ISP if it is legal to "sublet" your connection and thereby deprive them of a revenue stream? Even if the people you provide service to would not buy it otherwise, is it OK to add the burden of extra bandwidth to your ISP when your ISP has to pay for that bandwidth on their own backbone connection? Who cares how many people use it or about your altruistic beliefs that you should be able to do it?

                  Call your ISP and ask them. If they say it's ok, the
                  • Thank you for backing up your argument this time. I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and you may notice that I was only attacking the presentation of your position, not the position itself. It's impossible to debate an issue with someone if they don't present any rational arguments.

                    I still don't agree that it's a completely black and white issue though. I'm refering to the "exceptions" from my other post. For example, what exactly is the difference between my family sharing an internet connection in
                    • I don't think that anyone can argue morality on this issue other than people abiding by the TOS that they agreed to. I don't think there is anything inherently moral or immoral about an internet connection.

                      What is a question of morality is deciding to take a service that you are paying some company for, and which you almost guaranteed agreed to not share/sell/give away, and doing that anyway.

                      People talk about ISPs like they are some evil entity. In cases like Comcast or AT&T, maybe they are right.
          • Although you are trolling, or should be anyway, under most of the ISP contract terms I've read (which is maybe a half dozen) there are provisions for breach of contract that involve paying early termination fees. And this is for ISP that require contracts rather than just a Terms of Service. Appealing termination fees usually involve arbitration rather than traditional courts, so you are being a bit dramatic.

            I live in a rural area that is not serviced by cable or DSL. At my studio I have a WildBlue satellit
            • Am I in violation of your ethical standards with regard to theft from ISPs?

              I think you can answer that question yourself.

              Better yet, why not call your ISP up and provide them with the same details you listed here and let them tell you if you are in violation?

              Wouldn't that be the ethical thing to do? Or are you afraid that you really are in violation and they might charge you more or terminate your service?

              If you aren't afraid to do it, why not speak from a position of authority? Call them up an
        • by marxmarv (30295)

          There is no simple answer and an analogy to cable stealing doesn't work because bandwidth sharing is not illegal.

          In Michigan, the simple answer is that it's the very same law. See MCL 750.540c, subsection 1(c) [mi.gov] and this post [slashdot.org].

          MCL 750.540c
          (1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, or use any type telecommunications access device with the intent to defraud by doing, but not limited to, any of the following:
          (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, or intercept any telecommunications service without the express authority of the telecommunications service provider.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        Actually, when they sold it to me they quoted a certain amount of bandwidth and a certain amount of data transfer, per month. The "you've gotta use it all YOURSELF" clause is buried somewhere in the small print. For a reason.

        Around here if I set myself up as an ISP (doesn't matter how small) the telco is required to sell me whatever kind of connection I want and I can do whatever I want with it.

        Yes, sharing your Internet is different than cable theft. Cable is actually unlimited. If the Internet connect
    • Not all ISP's suck (Score:2, Informative)

      by GeorgeS (11440)
      I use Speakeasy for my service and they actually have a program that allows and encourages you to share your net connection over a wi-fi setup.
      They also encourage you to charge for it, but there's no reason why it can't be done for free if you'd like.

      http://www.speakeasy.net/netshare/ [speakeasy.net]
      • Hmmm, that's pretty interesting. It seems Speakeasy realizes that you could be sharing the connection with your neighbor without charging them anything, or paying more yourself, so they've found the only legitimate way of earning some revenue from the practice. Free-sharing your connection has a cost now: you're losing the discount you could earn from SpeakEasy sharing. This really seems the best solution for everyone. Anyone notice any negatives?
    • It's a Billing Issue (Score:2, Interesting)

      by scrib (1277042)
      An unpopular solution would be for ISPs to charge for actual internet usage. Heavy users pay the same amount as people who only check their email every couple days.

      If ISPs charged per GB up and down, they'd quickly lose interest in people who shared with a neighbor. It would also discourage use of Sandvine [wikipedia.org] to disrupt file sharing (Linux distros only, of course) because throttling bandwidth would throttle their profits. The marginal cost of bandwidth (for a subscriber) is Zero, so consumption is unrestr
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I really like the idea that this guy has, but I hate to think about the crazy ISPs would release on us if people started doing this.

      Some ISPs have account types explicitly intended for sharing, like Speakeasy.

  • ISPs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaveGod (703167)

    I still wonder if it would be workable for an ISP to supply a router which gives the owner priority over the bandwidth but allows any subscriber to connect (only) to the internet.

    For the consumer it's a mutual benefit, I make my bandwidth open to fellow customers and they do the same for me. The ISP wins from having a better service to attract customers, and also from wifi-only subscribers. The latter may also make for cost/price competitiveness, since you have more subscribers per physical connection.

  • Stealing & More (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @08:37AM (#23290682)
    I know the slashdot crowd is a big fan of free things, aren't we all, but when you sign on for internet you agree it's for your household, apartment, or whatever, not for you to provide publicly (even though many people inadvertently do with unsecured wireless networks).

    Just like you can't steal cable or run a cable over to your neighbor's, you can't steal internet service either.

    Likewise, when someone pirates something using your network, the person getting sued will probably be the person that pays the bill--you. And just think what would happen if someone downloads child pornography on your connection...!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MythMoth (73648)

      when you sign on for internet you agree it's for your household, apartment, or whatever, not for you to provide publicly

      Not necessarily true, but even where it is they can, frankly, bite me. Since they sell unlimited bandwidth and then put in teeny small print to say, effectively "unlimited does not mean unlimited" I don't have much of a problem with ignoring their unnecessary restrictions. Remember, this is a breach of contract at worst.

      My electricity and water suppliers are not able to put these restrictive terms into their contracts, I see no reason why I should respect the internet suppliers' attempts to do so.

      • by jamesh (87723)
        I think in Australia (and, being slashdot, someone will correct me if i'm wrong :), you need a carrier license to supply a communication service to the public.

        Also, I think ISP's can't advertise something like 'Unlimited', and then add conditions in small print. The conditions have to be as visible as the 'Unlimited' text, although i'm less certain about that one... it may have been a proposed law.

        • by MythMoth (73648)
          In the UK that's precisely what they do. For example, grabbed from Tiscali's site:

          Unlimited downloads. This great value package offers you unlimited downloads every month. Download movies and music, play games online, watch video clips and listen to the radio. Fair usage policy applies.
          It is not "Unlimited downloads" if a "fair usage policy" says it's limited.
      • The problem is that "unlimited" is kind of like a buffet. Just because you can go back as often as you want doesn't mean it's right for you to give someone else a plate and tell them to eat as much as they want too on your buffet entry fee, unless you pay for their use of the buffet too.

        Electricity and water, as far as I know, is usually not put on "unlimited" plans. You pay for every gallon and every kWhr consumed. You don't pay by the MB, GB or anything like that.
        • by MythMoth (73648)
          Don't be fooled by marketing.

          You don't pay by the MB, GB or anything like that.
          Unless your "unlimited" policy really is unlimited, yes you do. They just market it as if it weren't true, and you can't pay less in return for using less than the fixed amount that they're selling you.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by zippthorne (748122)
            Yes, precisely like a buffet.

            It's not even an analogy. It's literally the pricing scheme adopted by the ISPs.

            They charge "per person" with the expectation that the average person will take only so much. But that assumption goes all to heck if people start sub-letting their buffet plates.

            If you wanted "all you (and everone you want to call 'friend') can eat," you should have bought that plan. Not the "all you can eat" plan, which assumes that you'll be the only one doing the eating.
            • by MythMoth (73648)
              If the buffet really was "All you can eat" then I would have no problem with the constraints. When it's "All you can eat (fair eatage policy applies)" then, as I say, they can bite me.
      • My electricity and water suppliers are not able to put these restrictive terms into their contracts
        Apples and oranges. Electricity and water are both metered services. Broadband, by and large, isn't.
        • by rho (6063)

          That's the OP's point. It IS metered, but they advertise it as if it were not. Most cable broadband actually limit you. You're not allowed under whatever "Fair Use" policy they cobbled together to peg your advertised bandwidth 24/7.

      • by Dirtside (91468)
        Water and power suppliers are usually prohibited by law from putting those terms into their contracts. Internet providers are not.
      • Buffet restaurants can and do add those "restrictive terms" into their "contracts". If your Internet service is metered as your electricity and water are, I doubt they really care who uses it.
    • The same thing happens everytime there's an article here about free wifi.

      • Some People are all for it
      • People give reasons why it won't work.
      • In the US CALEA [calea.org] is the law and demands that you be able to provide real time wire sniffing to anyone on the last hop. If you provide wifi, that's now your responsibility. A $10,000 a day non compliance responsibility.
      • How do you keep from being in trouble with the RIAA, MPAA, etc

      It's a neat idea, and I hope people keep tinkering. However we also need to push the le

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by delt0r (999393)
      I provide a free access point. Its not against my ISP rules. There are 2 "AC" using it right now.

      Just because in your area the ISP are wankers does not mean they all are.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I can't remember agreeing to that. It definitely wasn't in the ads.
  • So how much money would take to inspire a hacker to actually make something like and publish the schematics? I've been toying with the idea fo starting a foundation similar to the X-prise only on a smaller scale. So would $100 be enough?
  • by SteveDob (449830) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @09:04AM (#23290842)
    My UK ISP already provide for 'municipal' wi-fi via an affiliation with FON. By opening up part of my spectrum, I get to piggyback my mobile devices on some other member's wi-fi when I need to.

    The only additional item here seems to be not getting ISP permission to do what they are happy to give permission for anyway. Rebellion this isn't.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @09:11AM (#23290880)
    that the police trace back to your ISP connection. They won't care that you had an open WiFi, all they'll know is that some pr0n, bomb-making literature, racist/hate traffic appeared on the internet and it was your IP address that was the source. You thought the RIAA was bad, wait until DHS gets on your case.

    Bleat all you like about "helping the community" or philanthropy or whatever you like. This is a naive attitude - similar to leaving your garage door open and then claiming "it's not mine" when stolen goods are found inside.

    Anyway, if these devices are so cheap that you can afford to leave them out in the open (until they die, suddenly the firt time it rains), then your neighbours can afford to by one themselves.

    • by fuego451 (958976)
      Exactly! Which is why I finally decided to lock down my router last night, due to paranoia. I live in a new development where homes average 30 meters apart with no big trees or other obstructions so my router has pretty good reach. Most of my neighbors have the same ISP I do, which gives you an ADSL modem/router combo (I see four 'admin' and a 'linksys' AP's), but apparently these folks have no idea what AP they are connecting to and, somehow, mine was the first choice. I guess they liked the essid I chose,
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      Not all of us live in the US.

      Even there, you still have some semblance of innocent until proven guilty and standards of evidence. If it became common to share a bit of your bandwidth then a simple IP address wouldn't be much evidence against you.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I love this reason, "because the cops may not like it"
  • Sure, I'd love to be able to grab some 'Net time wherever I am, but the simple fact is (at least in the UK) ISP's are pretty aggressively putting bandwidth caps in place.

    I installed a second wireless router upstairs to double the coverage in our flat, but only enabled WEP at the outset (yeh, I know); someone cracked the password and helped themselves to 6GB of download in one week.

    Result? Virgin capped us down to dial up speeds for two weeks.

    Nice one that, thanks for (ab)using my bandwidth.

    So given that so
  • I'd gladly share my bandwidth with others if I thought I wouldn't have the government kick down my door with an RIAA sponsored search warrant in hand and take all my computers. If I really felt free from scrutiny, I'd let others use my bandwidth. I can't use it all thanks to comcast throttling me, so others can have a slice too but I've got to trust them.

    IT's fear of attempted prosecution that keeps my wi-fi locked not anything else.

    Sheldon

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