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The Internet Businesses United States

The Rise of Free Urban Internet (axios.com) 78

Intersection, the Alphabet-backed smart cities startup known for creating free internet kiosks for cities, is pushing to make free internet accessible in as many major cities as possible across the globe. From a report: As more aspects of our daily lives -- from healthcare to communication to travel -- become dependent on internet-connected devices, the concept of providing internet as a public good is becoming more widespread. Intersection is best known for its successful transformation of NYC's 7,500 pay-phones into free internet kiosks that act as hot-spots and advertising space. It's also spreading its programs to cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and even London. The program is entirely funded by advertising that the company sells on LinkNYC internet kiosks, so less densely-populated cities may be a tougher sell.

The Rise of Free Urban Internet

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2018 @12:11PM (#56615276)

    Sure, and the information flowing through these “free” access points isn’t going to be collected and monetized... right?

    Give me a break. At least be honest about your motivation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not free if they are tracking and selling your browsing habits.

  • We're all more than happy - falling over ourselves, really - to put those wires on ourselves and train MAC III [wikipedia.org] right up.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Fiction is generally bad a doing a forecast of reality, and that one sounds less likely than most. Even BladeRunner sounds more likely.

      Please note: The dystopian stories are usually even worse at forecasting than the utopian ones. You can point at pieces of 1984 or Brave New World that are mirrored in the current world, but you can also pick out pieces of various utopian ones. At the current point in time the dystopian predictions seem the most accurate, but in much of the past it's been the utopian one

      • Sea of Glass was better than the Wikipedia article might have indicated. It read well, and the idea of predictive analytics at scale was very well done.

        Your millage may vary.

        PS: At one time, I considered Oath of Fealty Utopian. Not so much anymore.

  • by TheZeitgeist ( 5083373 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2018 @12:19PM (#56615314)
    ...for a truly 'open-source' internet would be packet travel over wi-fi without ever hitting telco infrastructure. For instance, how far could one relay a packet from their own wi-fi router just bouncing from wifi network to wifi network? Starting in NYC as an example, how far could one daisy-chain WAN jumping? To New Jersey? Florida? California (lol)? Infrastructure is just about deployed enough that a slow, strange, ad-hoc hack-job internet could be built without any telcos or government whatsoever.
    • How long until such a system gets hacked or abused? How would you troubleshoot problems? Do you want your WiFi continuously saturated with traffic passing through from God-knows-where?
    • Sounds complicated and unreliable, when 4G already works like a charm.

      • 4G does work like a charm; considerably better than an ad-hoc internet over consumer wifi WAP's. But the notion of an internet that doesn't depend on any corporate or sovereign gatekeepers is intriguing.
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      I think you're talking about a mesh network. They don't scale well, and with increased size the number of necessary hops climbs. Mesh networks work well on a small scale, but with increasing users they work less well even if you don't distribute them geographically. When you start adding in geographic distribution, I would expect the lag to be worse than O(n^2) where n is the number of concurrent users.

      • Yeah, it would be latency-palooza for such a homwbrewed internet. It would also be slow. It would not be optimal. Fortnight would suck on it. I get all that. What is interesting to me though is this notion of an actual 'underground internet' that is independent of any telco provider, or government sanction. Such a thing would be a godsend for citizens of places like Iran or Venezuela; and would drive their security services bonkers - and not because of the latency time.
    • Starting in NYC as an example, how far could one daisy-chain WAN jumping? To New Jersey? Florida? California (lol)?

      Toronto is north of here over about 30 miles of open water. The Niagara escarpment to the south makes bridging to the backbone near Buffalo something of a problem. Building out a network of any size is difficult and and MESH isn't magic.

    • Multi-hop Mobil ad-hoc networks [wikipedia.org]. Like BATMAN [wikipedia.org] or Netsukuku [wikipedia.org].

      a truly 'open-source' internet would be packet travel over wi-fi without ever hitting telco infrastructure

      That's not the definition of open-source, but I get what you're saying. I think you mean "indie" or distributed.

      how far could one relay a packet from their own wi-fi router just bouncing from wifi network to wifi network? Starting in NYC as an example, how far could one daisy-chain WAN jumping? To New Jersey? Florida? California (lol)?

      Assuming everyone all ran the same friendly software on their cell phones and wifi routers, you could get to the edge of town. You would be stopped once you hit a rural environment. In NYC, that would include Jersey, but not Florida.

      And yeah, it's slow and laggy with minimal throughput. But it's pretty awesome in a pinch. But of cou

  • Or, if you prefer, "Free" as in "Lunch", as in "no such thing, as.."

    Monetization, monetization everywhere!

    ..of course, is anyone really finding this to be a revelation? xD

  • Your data is being harvested and sold so you've got no expectation of any kind of privacy. There is nothing free or altruistic about these urban internet offerings.
  • You mean the new homeless porn access program? Now that's service, bringing porn right to them in the middle of the street.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?

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