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Open Letter to Cable Providers: Please Don't Harsh My Vibe.


Recent Headline: "Cable Firms Cracking Down on Wi-Fi." 10 New York City customers of Time Warner's Cable Internet Service Road Runner have been given less than a week to close down hot spots based on that service. Why? The owners of those hot spots (i.e. wireless internet access points) are in violation of their service level agreement (SLA) which prevents them from using cable service outside of their own walls.

As a wireless internet user, a member of the San Diego Telecom Council's WLAN Coalition, and a founder of Airshare.org, I find events like this worrisome even if they are not entirely unexpected. Those of us who have been setting up wireless LAN's for home and work know that SLA's are serious. We've always felt that it was a matter of time before DSL and Cable Providers started cracking down those who shared bandwidth.

Community Wireless Networks are not about doing an end run around payments. They are not about hacking. They are not about getting something for nothing. If that's all you can see, then you're looking too closely.

Even while Wi-Fi technologies have been praised for their digital divide-bridging effects, public praise for Community Networks has historically been laced with more negative appellations: "Guerilla Wireless" and "Parasitic Networks." As a home and work user, I have nothing to hide. Those who share bandwidth are anything but lecherous. To call names and to crack down on our SLA-bending ranks is to miss the point of the community movement altogether.