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Underground wireless networks give access to all

An interesting c|net article discusses the growing number of “underground” wireless networks; essentially home or business users with high-speed net access that set up an 802.11b (AirPort) base station and allow anyone to use their bandwidth. The practice has become particularly common in the San Francisco bay area, and allows neighbors to pitch in for one connection that they all then use. Some, however, predict that the practice will pit these communities against ISPs in a legal battle. Many ISPs prohibit an Internet connection from being shared without paying additional money, and the potential impact that underground networks could have on an ISP’s customer base and revenue is significant. In the mean time, however, members of the networks are happy. “I’ve gotten to know the neighbors much better. Occasionally, they bring me pies and things like that,” said one user of the public wireless network he set up.

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