Last August I announced the installation of some open Meraki wireless access points at 100 Prince Street, making free wifi available to my immediate neighbourhood. They’ve been running for a year now without problem, and although I’ve twiddled with the amount of free bandwidth available (turning it down when outsiders were sucking up enough to make in-home use sluggish), the free wifi has been flowing all year long.
Over the year, my Meraki management dashboard tells me, 371 users transferred 113 GB over the network. Although every one of those 371 has seen a splash page upon connection inviting them to send me an email if they find the access useful, the only person I’ve ever heard from is a newly-moved-in next door neighbour who thanked me for the access while he was waiting to have his own connection installed.
My rationale for leaving the access open to any anonymous wanderer-by is completely Marxist in nature. I think of it like I think of hitchhiking: I’ve used enough free wifi out there in the world that I feel I owe it to the world to serve up some of my own when and where I’m able.
Not everyone agrees with this approach, and, like hitchhiking, it has inherent risks. But I think, ultimately, the obivous good of sharing a useful resource outweighs the phantom bad of someone plotting the downfall of society using my bandwidth.