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Looking for Free Internet in All the Wrong Places

Our information infrastructure is woefully under developed.  Case in point, throttling: the practice of when cellphone companies choke off access to data to stave off overloading the system.  Company after company is getting rid their unlimited plans.  The new plans that are being rolled out include penalties for going over a certain amount of data.  In the wake of these restrictions people have been getting creative to avoid charged and fees.  Let’s see what are doing.

1.       Use someone else’s Wi fi

Plenty of places like coffee shops offer free Wi fi in order to attract patrons.  However, many of these hotspots are operated by AT&T or T-Mobile.  Starbucks is famous for making a deal with AT&T, making it more difficult for customers of other carriers to connect and even charging them roaming fees if applicable.

2.       Renting a Wi fi Bubble

For a fee, various companies around the world will rent you a small Wi Fi connecting device.  Boingo is one of the larger such companies in the US.  There was even an Ad Agency that used homeless people as mobile hotspots.

3.       Power to the People

There’s a growing community of people who believe that access to the internet should be a right.  As a medium, the World Wide Web is an invaluable tool for expression.  To that end, there are thousands people across the US and the world who provide free hotspots.  A large list of them can be found here.

We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch.  It may be free to you, but someone somewhere along the line paid for it.  So before consulting your IT support guy, check out this list and be sure that you know what you’re getting into when looking for some free wireless internet.

 

Is Broadband Internet Turning into a Monopoly?

The Internet exemplifies freedom. On the Internet people decide what becomes big and what fades into obscurity. As the years pass, the faster and faster it goes. The more and more information enter the average American’s home. Being an on the edge consumer must involve having the fastest Internet service. It might surprise you to know that Apple co-founder, Steve Woz, does not have broadband internet. Well, to be honest, it should be noted that Mr. Wozniak can get access to internet speeds that are as fast or faster than cable internet through his LTE enabled phones. However, Wozniak cited monopoly conditions that high speed internet providers operate under. How true is that statement?

According to an article written by Susan P. Crawford in the Yale Law Review, 85% of Americans live in an area where there is only one high speed internet provider. In 2006, the assets of Adelphia Communication, which went bankrupt, were divided amongst Comcast and Time Warner. That, combined with a regional monopolies which have been forming since 1997, according to then-President of Tele-Communications, Inc, Leo Hindery, has created a situation in which 70% of consumers live in an area in which there is no broadband competition. So it seems that the Woz is correct. We do, for the most part, live in an age in which telecommunication companies do not compete with each other. This is most troubling since, for the most part, they have achieved this through their own designs. We, the consumers, have paid the price, a highly inflated price. A study done by Hugh Thompson of Digital Home, suggested that the actual price of a gigabyte of data transferred is about 10 cents. On average, that is a 5,000 percent mark up.

This is a serious problem. By the FCC’s own admission, broadband access is important to the economic well-being of the United States. History will tell us that at a time when an essential product is controlled by a single company, quality goes down. I think the last thing that we need for the American economy is for a drop off in quality in any sector. A strangle hold on the Internet chokes freedom, from sending e-mail to communicating to holding our files on cloud hosting sites.