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Holiday Season Request: Open Your Internet Access Points

I’ve made this an annual request for the past few years:

Please Open Your Internet Access Points During the Holiday Season.

No matter where you live in the world, the next couple months are filled with some form of traditional, cultural, or religious holiday. Family members will be taking time off from work and their lives to travel around the countries to spend time with family and friends. They will also be taking their laptops and handheld computers with them, dependent upon finding the nearest WIFI open access point to stay in touch.

Many will visit local McDonald’s, Starbucks, Panera Bread, and other chain businesses which typically offer free or paid Internet WIFI points. Still more will be visiting places far from these commercial avenues and hunting the neighborhoods for WIFI signals, praying one will be open for access.

If you have a WIFI wireless system in your home or office, consider opening it up to the public for the next two months. You can still protect your computer securely, while leaving the Internet access open. Read the manual or online instructions on how to protect your computer while opening your WIFI system’s access for the Internet for your particular model. You can close the gate when the holidays are over, knowing a few people out there were more than delighted with their holiday gift of free Internet access.

If you are worried about too many users on your system, let’s look at the reality of the issue. If you have a 54 MB per second wireless router, and the average laptop has a 10 MB per second transfer rate, if each user accessing your router were using the full 10 MB possible, you could only handle 5 users. But who downloads and maxes out their 10 MB transfer rates constantly? Few access more than a few KB at a time, so your router could easily host 10-25 or more users without strain. There are no additional costs or charges from your Internet company for additional users as they can’t count who is using, just that it is being used.

Reality is that if you live in a neighborhood of 15 houses within your WIFI range of 300-500 feet (without an external boosting antenna), how many of your neighbor’s visitors do you think would access your Internet at the same time? One, two, maybe three? More likely zero. But you never know.

As I travel around the country and world, I carry a WIFI detector with me, driving through neighborhoods and towns in my car, slowing down and checking for WIFI signals. When I find a strong one, I’ll park and open my my laptop. I wait and wait until it finds the signal, and then it tells me that it is a secure system that requires a password and user name. I move on down the street, looking for another. I have articles to email to publishers and publish on my blogs. I have emails to send to family and businesses. I have work that needs to be monitored and checked. My life is attached to the Internet. I keep looking until I find that fabulously generous person who has an open Internet access point, and do a mental dance and blessing on their heads with grateful appreciation.

Yes, I could use a cell phone to access, but right now, one cell phone doesn’t work across every country in the world. Nor every place.

The joy that comes from finding that open connection that allows a blogger to blog, someone to email family, friends, or work, or just check the news is magic. Honestly, please consider opening your WIFI Internet access point up during the holidays and give the gift of access to the world.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

11 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2006 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    That’s a great idea. I’m going to do that then for the 3 weeks I’ll be somewhere else for the holidays. Not like I’m going to use it anyway. :)

  2. Posted November 7, 2006 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    I will play along, I have no doubt that some mean so and so will try and snoop but hey!

    Just a point from a pedant though, when you’re talking about the speeds it’s megabits, not megabytes. ;)

  3. Posted November 7, 2006 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    A great idea, however there is a far better option.

    Inform those who are about to use your system the WPA, or WEP key. It takes an extra 10 seconds to configure and does not leave you open to the world.

    If one has WPA PSK (Pre-shared Key) as an option, it is very easy to configure a simple password that provides family and friends access without opening up the connection to the neighbourhood hacker(s).

    The world is full of people who use their computer to browse and send email and have no clue about the terms ‘malware’, ‘virus’ or ‘spam’ and will be completely unaware that their system is flooding any connection available. It doesn’t take much to rack up a big amount of data when such miscreant software gets a head of steam up.

    As a side note, I think your mathematics are a bit out.

    Most wireless devices can run at 11mbits (1.1 mbytes/sec) or higher. 55mbit+ is quite common nowadays..

    In Australia we have ‘unlocked’ ADSLv2+ – which provides speeds up to 24mbits per second over the phone lines.. In my case I can almost saturate my 10mbit (1mbyte/sec) ADSLv2+ link via my laptop’s 55mbit wireless adapter.

    Just a thought (or two).

  4. Posted November 7, 2006 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The reality is that the world’s neighborhoods are NOT filled with hackers. Opening your Internet connection does not have to expose your computer. I’ve even had the WIFI router and cable modem connected and then disconnected my laptop from the system and it still worked, staying open for WIFI computers to connect to the Internet without a computer connected to anything.

    Handing out codes and passwords to visitors is great if you know the visitors. It’s the unknown ones to whom this would be such a fabulous free gift this holiday season.

    BTW, I was not talking about speed as much as “volume”. ;-)

  5. Posted November 7, 2006 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Heh! Great idea! But I live in a apartment flat in Singapore!… I can actually readily access 3 networks when I start to scan for wireless networks :)

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the festive season and Christmas!

    *oops… is it too early? i still have my uni examinations to clear!*

  6. Posted November 7, 2006 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I have two routers. The main one runs 802.11g only, with a WEP key. The other one runs as a slave (no DHCP) and provides 802.11b only, with no security. That way, guests can flip open their laptop and just have it work, or I can give them the key and provide them with secure access.

  7. Posted November 7, 2006 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Have a look at http://www.fon.com
    They have a phantastic concept.
    I just ordered a router two weeks ago, installed it and here we go,
    so if you are coming to my village, there is wifi for you.

  8. Posted November 8, 2006 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Just remember:the more ppl on your network, the slower the network becomes for everyone. My friend shares wifi with 3 other families, and between 6 and 8, he says, and maybe 10 to 11, it can get really slow.

  9. Posted November 10, 2006 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I can see where you’re coming from in terms of the idea, but unfortunately I’m legally responsible for everything that gets transmitted over my connection. Should someone decide to download kiddie porn or copy written materials how would I prove it wasn’t me?

  10. Posted November 10, 2006 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Easy. Tracking those things are done all the time. But more importantly, how would they know you had kiddie porn or copyrighted materials if your computer was protected and your Internet open? You can separate the two.

  11. Posted March 16, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I have stumbled upon http://www.fon.com via one of my colleagues. It is a brilliant concept: you can get a low-cost wifi router (or even for free if you are sponsored by a member). Then you open a fraction of your internet bandwidth to strangers. Your house becomes a fon wifi spot. The briliant part is that in return, as a member, you then get free access at any fon spot in the world. For those who are often on the road, this is the perfect system.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] … and of course, because the holiday season is coming!             [...]

  2. [...] silently thank all who provide free access to their WIFI Internet system as my fingers move over the keyboard and mouse to open FireFox, Mozilla Thunderbird Email, and [...]

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