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Ignoring the fact that Verizon are clearly evil (as shown by their service, and the amount of sneaky rubbish installed by their software), maybe they are contributing to a greater good, without even realising it.

I have moved to America now, and in the area that I live, there are only 2 ISPs, Verizon and Road Runner. Verizon’s DSL service is cheaper, so a lot of people are going for that. Road Runner’s Cable service is better, so I went for that. Either way, I tried out Verizon Online DSL, and part of their sales process is to attempt to upsell customers to buy a router so that they can have as many computers as they want online… a wireless router… which is always sold without WEP or MAC-based security configured, because it causes too many support calls! I talked with the technician who installed my Road Runner service and she said basically the same thing, that people are allowed to install a wireless router on their home connection, but that they certainly wouldn’t assist with configuring any security measures, or provide them with security enabled by default.

At first, this just sounds like the usual cop-out of large corporations (HI TELSTRA!), but if you look again, you realise that if this upsell process is effective, and people get the wireless router and use it, then they are providing something to the public; free broadband wireless access to the Internet. There are no bandwidth restrictions (to speak of) on any of these accounts. They are always-on, and not charged by download, upload, connect-time, nothing. It’s a flat charge per month no matter what you do with your account.

I’m not condoning that people should run around looking for open access points to use, but my point is this; if ISPs are providing these facilities (in particular un-metered, un-secured, wireless access to their connection), then there has to be some level of acceptance of the fact that people are going to be using the service without direct authorisation.

The reason that I thought of all of this, is that before I got my connection installed here, I turned on my iPAQ and checked for wireless networks – it immediately picked up 2, one of which was unsecured. Just for a laugh, I let it have a go at connecting, and bingo, I had a nice, fast connection to the Internet, care of a friendly (read: clueless) neighbour. If I thought that I was costing them anything, I would have gotten off immediately, but with everything here being flat-rate, and me only checking a few emails and doing some quick browsing, I didn’t feel too bad.

What’s the general vibe from other people out there about this sort of thing?

Written by Beau Lebens

July 1st, 2004 at 4:00 pm