Why it just might make sense to share your mobile bandwidth

Micha Benoliel Open Garden Sascha Meinrath New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute Steven van Wel Karma Mobilize 2013

Internet access for all would benefit society at large; so much so that individuals should be able to share it as they see fit. That was the takeaway from a panel discussing the future of mobile networking at the GigaOM Mobilize 2013 event on Thursday. Unfortunately, that’s not how the traditional network operators provide access, so what can the industry do?

Plenty, actually, provided that people have incentives and easy ways to share their mobile broadband. Steven van Wel, CEO of Karma, said not to think of this as sharing bandwidth but rather, sharing access to the internet. That’s exactly what his company provides: A hotspot that provides internet access to others nearby. And the more a customer shares their hotspot access, the more free data they get in return.

Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of Open Garden agrees and his company offers a similar solution. But it’s not hardware. Instead, Open Garden is an app that lets you share your connection. “This will make mobile broadband ubiquitous and broaden availability. In New York recently, I couldn’t get coverage with either of 2 phones. That sucks! 2014 should be the year of sharing internet data.”

That may be a lofty goal, however. “Roughly 2 billion people are connected now,” said Sascha Meinrath, VP and Director, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. To get the remaining 5 billion people connected it will take more than capital expenditures; it will take sharing efforts, Meinrath said. “Just Imagine the benefit to society for everyone to have access.” It sounds worth it to me, even if the carriers aren’t interested in rewarding me to help them get more people on their networks.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page

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