Gag me with a spoon

Lego geometry

Be your own ISP — with Speakeasy Wifi!

Okay, this rocks like a Rush concert: Speakeasy, the incredibly forward-thinking ISP, has set up Netshare — a new system that lets you charge your neighbors small amounts of money to dip into your Wifi signal.

Say you’re living in an apartment building or neighborhood with good radio-wave access to a dozen other households. You could sign up for a $50-a-month DSL account, set up a Wifi node, and share the signal with four other paying neighbors. Speakeasy takes care of the billing, charging everyone their fraction. Presto: You’re all getting broadband for $10 a month, and saving about $500 a year each.

Sure, there’ll be the occasional crunch in bandwidth if everyone tries to download 100-meg movie files at the same time. But quite frankly, how likely is that to happen? My girlfriend and I have been sharing a Wifi node for months now, and we both download high-bandwith stuff — music files, online video, big pieces of software — and I’ve never once noticed a problem.

This is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant idea. I hope other ISPs pick up on it, but I’m not holding my breath.

(Thanks to Slashdot for pointing this one out!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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