Let Me Piggyback on Your Wi-Fi & I’ll Pay It Forward by Sharing Mine
When I’m out, I’m often reduced to chasing Wi-Fi where I can find it. Intercity buses that pick up passengers near Penn Station, for example, are oases of connectivity in a city of slaphappy password protection. With Wi-Fi spilling out to the sidewalk, you’ll sometimes see me sprinting along 34th Street with my iPod Touch trying to stay in range of a bus as it heads to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Let me tell you: It isn’t easy to run, read, and poke the screen at the same time all while overcoming the obstacle course created by the legions of kids lined up to audition for America’s Got Talent. Ever since I traded my iPhone and its 2-year AT&T contract for the phone-less but subscription-free iPod Touch, I’ve relied on the generosity of strangers so I can check email. But serendipity is increasingly hard to come by as masters of their hot spots raise the drawbridge of unprotected access by building in a password. I find this trend selfish and short-sighted.
The thing about cities is that because everyone lives and works on top of one another and Wi-Fi doesn’t respect walls or doors, there’s a good chance that a neighboring apartment or business is spewing online availability like a gushing fire hydrant. What a waste!
I don’t consider myself a freeloader when mounting someone else’s Wi-Fi signal for a few minutes a day. At home my broadband connection is wide open and available for neighbors to use. It’s my way of paying it forward since I pay my cable company many hundreds of dollars a year for Internet access, and I hardly use it except during evenings and weekends. Similarly, most people I know are actively online only a portion of the day, and even then they’re using just a fraction of the bandwidth available to them.
Getting online when you’re not in front of a computer at home or the office would be so much easier if people shared their networks. Everyone would benefit except, perhaps, telecommunications giants who want everyone to be paying all the time for access even when they’re not using it. You know their names. They’re the ones who portray sharing as unethical and piggybacking as stealing.
Password protection could be made conditional based on whether the rightful Wi-Fi resident is actually surfing the Internet at the moment. So, if I’m streaming a movie, I wouldn’t want to see the action freeze on account of a dude in the street trying to check his email. Sure, bandwidth is finite. But I also know that it isn’t so precious that it must be hoarded. When I don't need it, I'm hapy to say mi Internet es su Internet.
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