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Steve Jobs Dreamed of Open Wi-Fi Networks

After the release of the iPhone, Steve Jobs told Re/code’s Walt Mossberg that he was so frustrated by AT&T’s slow cellular network and the general lack of open Wi-Fi access points that he came up with a plan to make it easy for users to share their Wi-Fi networks with strangers safely. He even wanted to create an industry consortium of sorts to make guest networks a standard feature of wireless routers. Jobs’s frustration could have been the inspiration for the guest network feature in AirPort base stations, though it might also have just been a natural development.favicon follow link


Comments about Steve Jobs Dreamed of Open Wi-Fi Networks
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Julian Y. Koh  2014-08-12 04:54
I don't see why I would expose myself to allowing complete strangers to use the Internet connection that I am responsible for all the activity on. Similarly, when I'm out and about, why would I trust my data to a network that I don't have some sort of agreement with? I'll admit I'm one of those outliers who always uses a VPN whenever I'm traveling, and often even from home, but still, nothing is really free...
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-08-12 06:57
I think it's telling that this is a 2007-era dream. Obviously, cell networks are much faster and more widespread now, so the concept of ubiquitous Wi-Fi is less important than it used to be, and the security issues wrapped up in accessing unknown networks and letting unknown people use your network have become more significant.

That said, I do think Jobs's dream could have been realized in an interesting way if the industry as a whole was behind it, so every router had a guest network on by default, freeloaders weren't able to abuse bandwidth, all communications were encrypted end-to-end, and so on.

The concept of near-ubiquitous access is one aspect of Vernor Vinge's excellent novel "Rainbows End."