In an ideal world, people who can’t afford to pay for Wi-Fi wouldn’t have to worry about going to Starbucks, the library and other benevolent businesses that offer free Internet connections. Instead, the haves would be willing to share with the have-nots without hesitation, even if the person on the other end is a stranger. This is the world that Open Garden may help create.
The San Francisco based startup has developed a way for devices to share network connectivity via crowd sourcing. Open Garden has created an app for Mac, PC and Android that allows devices to share internet connectivity through a mesh network. With this network, multiple mobile devices connect through Wi-Fi and share strongest connection to the Internet – even if the device owner isn’t paying for a hotspot access or mobile broadband through their wireless provider.
Obviously,Wi-Fi providers and operators may not be too happy about Open Garden. They don’t generally like to provide free access, but mobile users aren’t complaining. Users will have a better chance at connecting to the Internet in a lot more locations, if others are willing to share their network. According to Micha Benoliel, a partner of Skype, there are other ways for mobile devices to share connections, but it is often a complicated process. Open Garden, on the other hand, is free and easier for users without deep technical skills. “This doesn’t require you to be a geek to make this work,” Benoliel said.
The first version of Open Garden does not allow users to monitor who shares their connectivity, but the company is developing another version that allows users to have that control. Open Garden made the app available in app stores this week.