For decades, it has not been possible to have open communications systems on the physical level. In a world of wires, network access meant physical access. Wireless networking enabled the technical possibility of a completely open network.

An open network is better than one with many silos, as long as free riding is contained, because, to a given user paying a given cost, an open network provides connectivity that is faster and in more places. To see how an open network creates additional value, consider two people, you and me. We both have the same type of connection at home, and pay the same for it. Occasionally, we are near each other’s houses, but we do not know each other. Consider the baseline world as we have it today: I can use my network when I am home and you can use your network when you are home, but we can’t use each other’s networks. Imagine a world where both of our networks are open. Now each of us can use the other’s network when we are next to the other’s house. Given that my network is mostly not used at any given moment, you using it for brief periods when you are near costs me very little. However, my ability to use your network when I am near your house creates new value for me, far greater value than what I lost when you used my network. Thus, for the same price, the open network served both of us better than a closed one would have.

The sharing of last-mile Internet capacity extends the way the Internet works already everywhere but the last hop to the connection at the very edge. On the Internet, users already share capacity of all the links. This is what makes the Internet so cost-effective. This statistical multiplexing principle allows to achieve better level of service for any given amount of capacity. Not only is statistical multiplexing used on the Internet, similar principles apply to airline overbooking and even fractional reserve banking.

Open Garden supports and promotes the openness of wireless networks, which is why we are a member of the Open Wireless coalition, founded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The goals of the movement are also our goals.

The place of Open Garden in the Open Wireless ecosystem is that of a tool. One of the concerns of potential adopters of open wireless is free riding. Open Garden guarantees mutuality by the very nature of our software: to access Open Garden, users need to install the app, and installing the app also enables sharing of their own access.

We look forward to working with Open Wireless coalition to bring about a world where more utility is extracted from networks and where the openness and the sharing that exists everywhere else on the Internet also extends to the very edge of the network.

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