Companies and hobbyists alike are working to build free wireless 802.11b networks that tie together already established access points set up by businesses and individuals alike. The concept, which relies on access point owners to provide free reign of their network, could potentially thwart more expensive wireless initiatives. “The social contract is simple: you can use mine when you are in the vicinity of Mount Vernon Street, Boston. But I want to be able to use yours when I am near you,” explains Nicholas Negroponte, director of the M.I.T Media Laboratory, in a New York Times article (free subscription required). A similar article in The Technology Review says that barring abuse, such free access to wireless networks wouldn’t cost the owners of the access points anything extra. Many Internet Service Providers, however, prohibit unauthorized sharing of a single connection, although it is difficult for ISPs to determine who is not adhering to this policy.