Data Connection Pool Lets People Use Others' Spare Bandwidth
Devices such as smartphone supposedly let people access the Internet anywhere, but in reality, network connections are patchy sometimes. Yet most spots are covered by some kind of connection, just not connections that are open to everyone. Now, a startup has created an app that lets users harness unused bandwidth from other users, creating a stronger, more continuous network. It's a communal pool for data connections. Today, I'll use some of your unused connectivity because I'm downloading videos while you're just reading a PDF. Tomorrow, I'll be the one sharing what I'm not using.
The problem with the app, called Open Garden, is that wireless carriers may resist giving out that kind of capability for free. Carriers already charge for similar services, such as using smartphones to connect laptops to the Internet, as MIT's Technology Review noted. Open Garden hopes companies will relent because the app's system helps carriers deliver faster connection speeds without having to change their networks. One wireless carrier, which Open Garden won't name, has agreed to test the app, Open Garden's CEO, Micha Benoliel, told Technology Review.
People can download Open Garden now as an Android app or onto their Mac or PC computers. The app searches for other devices with Open Garden downloaded on them, then automatically decides how best to connect its own device to the Internet. It gives people priority use of their own connections.
For now, Open Garden draws connections indiscriminately from the devices around them, but in the future, it will let users decide who they want to share with, Benoliel said. Users who are generous about sharing with strangers will earn credits that let them use other strangers' connections.
Open Garden's system is one way to deal with a future in which more and more people own Internet-connected devices in the future and people share ever-more data. It remains to be seen how much people – and carriers – are willing to share.
[via Technology Review]