By Nigel Ballard of Portland, Oregon. Nigel is an activist and spokesman for the Personal Telco Project.
The Personal Telco Project or PTP has been in existence since 2000, when a bunch of Portland computer geeks decided to start sharing their home Wi-Fi networks with each other. We then extended the invitation to complete strangers - namely neighbors, passers-by and even visitors to the City were invited to drive up to our front doors and surf the net. The expensive 24/7 broadband we'd each bought we really only seemed to use 4/7 - what to do with all that excess? Give it away of course!
PTP then decided to venture downtown to Wi-Fi the Pioneer Courthouse Square, a myriad of local coffee shops, public spaces and parks - even the Cedar Hills Mall. We now have well over 140 locations offering 24/7 free Wi-Fi access to the Internet. There is no registration required; your surfing is free and truly anonymous. We don't know and we don't care who you are or where you surf.
We were recently awarded 501c(3) non-profit status, and now with the aid of a generous grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust and an equipment donation from our friends at Intel, we're embarking on an altogether more momentous undertaking, namely the unwiring of a large stretch of the Mississippi Retail district.
Along the way we've made many friends and thankfully only a few enemies. The dissenters are mostly the phone and cable companies who want to monopolize Internet access in the USA and in doing so keep it slow and prohibitively expensive.
Currently we rank an embarrassing 17th in terms of affordable broadband Internet access. South Korea's superfast and supercheap offerings keep them firmly in first place. We're always looking for fresh blood in the shape of volunteers. Linux hackers, people with inroads into local businesses, etc. Remember, we are tax deductible and you'll look cool to your peers; wondrous amounts of karma will ooze from your pores if you get involved. Visit PersonalTelco.net for more information.
The Internet really does want to be free you know!