Libertarian Ramblings

Ubiquitous Wifi

Posted by gravisman on July 9, 2008

Sometimes people criticize me or libertarianism in general for being too cold and seamingly selfish. They argue that people can do great things if they work together. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. People naturally work together to accomplish their greatest work. This is why we form corporations, and is really the heart of free enterprise and capitalism. One of the greatest benefits of true liberty is the freedom to work together and to find great ways to work together without governmental meddling.

One of the greatest ways in which we could all work together for mutual benefit is right at our fingertips in millions of homes across the USA. I’m talking about ubiquitous wifi. Ubiquitous wifi is the idea that virtually wherever you go, there will be an open wifi network with which to connect to the internet. We already live in a world where you can pick up a wifi signal almost anywhere, but the odds of that signal being unencrypted are getting lower every day.

The basic logic behind locking down wifi networks with encryption is that people don’t want others leeching their connection. Ok, that makes sense. But, what if you could share your connection under the expectation that most of the time nobody will be using it anyway, and even when they are, you probably won’t notice, and then in return you could have the awesome reward of accessing others’ connections wherever you go. The small loss of bandwidth you would give up to allow visitors on your network from time to time would be greatly overshadowed by your awesome ability to connect all around whatever city you live in.

I understand that we’re all sort of stuck in a prisoner’s dilema here. Everyone is afraid that they will be the only one to open their network, and people will leech off them without getting any benefit. I think this is a movement worth starting, though. Open your network. And when you do, put a comment saying “I opened my network.” After that, tell everyone you know or meet with a closed network that they should open theirs, too. Even in the beginning you can quickly get positive benefits by having easy access to the internet whenever you’re hanging out at any of your friends’ houses – because you will have made all them open their networks. With one circle of friends all enjoying easy access, you can grow from their. Things can only get better.

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One Response to “Ubiquitous Wifi”

  1. As utopian as that sounds, somebody has to pay for that. In addition, it may violate the EULA from the bandwidth provider. Unless you get Cox, Comcast, Qwest, et… to buy into this, you could conceivably get this person’s internet disconnected. Throw in somebody downloading copyrighted material (then the RIAA sues you) to child pornography (then the police arrest you) to hacking (then the FBI says hello), and you are opening up a whole can of worms that nobody wants to deal with. Add in security on their own network and this really isn’t somewhere you want to go. It’s sad that we can’t trust our fellow man for the good of all but it’s the reality of today.

    The best option would be for a company that could provide a similiar quality service at a very low cost with the cooperation of the city. I know we are working on that as other are also. I still believe it’s possible.

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