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EFF Lists ISPs In Tune With 'Free Net' Movement - Electronic Frontier Foundation - Brief Article

In a move likely to infuriate a few large, commercially successful Internet service providers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Friday posted on its Web site a list of "consumer friendly" ISPs that allow customers to share wireless Internet access with their neighbors and passers-by through the use of low-cost wireless hubs.

Wireless community networks provide Internet services to anyone in the vicinity of a wireless hub in the network without all participants having to sign up with a traditional ISP. This relatively new and grassroots phenomenon, says the San Francisco-based EFF, "democratizes access to Internet services and helps to span the digital divide" by providing anyone within the physical vicinity access to the Internet. In more concentrated wireless service areas, wireless networks provide seamless Internet connectivity to people who travel through a geographical area.

Some ISPs, like New York's Time Warner Cable, have begun enforcing terms of service that allow them to sue customers who share wireless access, according to EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "There's a huge demand for the freedom to operate community wireless access points," he said, adding that EFF is "making sure people have the information to make informed decisions when they choose their ISPs and identifying vendors who can provide that service."

Wireless community networks are an explosive phenomenon, with millions of wireless cards sold in the United States every year. In fact, one community wireless network group, NYC Wireless, provided critical infrastructure in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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