Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free WiFi

While commercial services attempt to move existing business models to Wi-Fi, many
groups, communities, cities, and individuals have set up free Wi-Fi networks, often adopting a common peering agreement in order that networks can openly share with each other. Free wireless mesh networks are often considered the future of the Internet.

Many municipalities have joined with local community groups to help expand free Wi-Fi networks (see Mu-Fi). Some community groups have built their Wi-Fi networks entirely based on volunteer efforts and donations.

For more information, see wireless community network, where there is also a list of the free Wi-Fi networks one can find around the globe. OLSR is one of the protocols used to set up free networks. Some networks use static routing; others rely completely on OSPF. Wireless Leiden developed their own routing software under the name LVrouteD for community wi-fi networks that consist of a completely wireless backbone. Most networks rely heavily on open source software, or even publish their setup under an open source license.

Some smaller countries and municipalities already provide free Wi-Fi hotspots and residential Wi-Fi internet access to everyone. Examples include Estonia which have already a large number of free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout their countries.

In Paris, France, OzoneParis offers free Internet access for life to anybody who contributes to the Pervasive Network’s development by making their rooftop available for the Wi-Fi Network.

Annapolis, Maryland is in the early phases (as of April 2006) of a pilot program to provide free, advertisement-financed Wi-Fi to all its residents. A private company, Annapolis Wireless Internet, will administrate the network. Users will only see local advertisements upon accessing the network.

Many universities provide free Wi-Fi internet access to their students, visitors, and anyone on campus. Similarly, some commercial entities such as Panera Bread and Culver's offer free Wi-Fi access to patrons. McDonald's Corporation also offers Wi-Fi access, often branded 'McInternet'. This was launched at their flagship restaurant in Oak Brook, Illinois, USA, and is also available in many branches in London, UK.

However, there is also a third subcategory of networks set up by certain communities such as universities where the service is provided free to members and guests of the community such as students, yet used to make money by letting the service out to companies and individuals outside. An example of such a service is Sparknet in Finland.

Sparknet also supports OpenSpark, a project where people can share their own wireless access point and become as a part of Sparknet and OpenSpark community in return for certain benefits.

Recently commercial Wi-Fi providers have built free Wi-Fi hotspots and hotzones. These providers hope that free Wi-Fi access would equate to more users and significant return
on investment.

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