Have you ever been out at a cafe, its wifi on the fritz, and looked longingly at the 13 other networks with little lock icons next to them? For most networks, only a fraction of their capacity is ever put to use, leaving a lot of excess capacity untapped.
The emerging collaborative consumption movement frequently utlizes the internet to enabling connections and exchanges. Never has access to the internet itself been the focus of a business. Until KeyWifi.
As KeyWifi puts it on its IndieGogo project page,
KeyWifi is the world’s first web-based, peer-to-peer internet access platform, allowing individuals and small businesses to safely rent out their Wifi, opening up previously unavailable hotspots and turning our whole world into a potential “Wifi zone.”
That one phrase, “safely rent out their wifi,” could be all it takes to unlock people’s willingness to do such a thing. In an age of phishing, viruses, high profile hacking, giving people the security to share their unused bandwidth with confidence, at a profit, is enormous.
Here again, KeyWifi nails the larger benefit of their service:
The social impact of the internet is obvious in promoting economic mobility, political empowerment, and freedom of information, with significant implications for the developing world. By making efficient use of community, underused infrastructure, and peer-to-peer technology, KeyWifi democratizes the internet, opening up thousands of high-bandwidth hotspots for low-income communities so that they, too, can participate in shaping the future.
Even beyond lowering economic barriers, it’s just efficient use of resources. Just as peer-to-peer car sharing allows would-be renters to access private cars, KeyWifi allows the masses to access wireless networks that are sitting idle.
This all sounds like a great idea, but I wonder what will happen if this gains traction: will ISPs begin to lose money as a result? Will they seek a portion of profits? Create a restriction from such activity in people’s accounts? Hopefully they will not mimic the recording industry’s clumsy, overbearing methods of regaining control.
But for now, KeyWifi offers a promising and very useful option to best utilize online access.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.