This is a volunteer or community application of wireless computer networks. Computer users who have a broadband Internet link can set up wireless access to it using a system such as Wi-Fi. This allows anybody within range who has a similar link to use the broadband connection without having to subscribe themselves. Access is either provided free, or on a subscription basis at a low rate compared with individual broadband costs.
Understandably, telecommunications companies (telcos) are less than keen on this development, since they are spending vast sums on setting up their own high-speed wireless infrastructure using third-generation technologies. The pejorative alternative terms parasitic grid and piranha grid for the system seem to come from that side of the argument.
While rejecting the implications of freeloading, those involved in providing the links haven’t yet settled on a name for them. Terms such as community-owned wireless network, neighborhood area network, community wireless, and open network access point have all been spotted in recent months, though personal telco currently seems to be the most popular.
Some of the more established wireless-sharing groups in the United States include the Bay Area Wireless Group, Seattle Wireless, Portland’s Personal Telco Project, NYCWireless.Net and Boston’s GuerillaNet.
Toronto Star, Oct. 2001
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