Wibiki goes live with free Wi-Fi internet access

Wibiki today launched its Public Beta for testing its free Wi-Fi access service. Wibiki aims to provide free Wi-Fi access to people who share their own internet access using Wi-Fi.

You’ll need to download the Wibiki software and install it onto your laptop and your Linksys WRT54GS router. (Available for $80 at Amazon.com)

The instructions on Wibiki’s website are incredibly clear and it’s obvious that Wibiki have been working hard at making this simple. The laptop software didn’t cause any hassles or crashes, even though it’s only at version 0.1.3.

It definitely looks that as far as the technology goes, Wibiki has got it right.

The big question is whether they have the right business model for encouraging Wi-Fi adoption, and in particular, bridging the digital divide. In South Africa and many other countries, DSL subscribers pay by the gigabyte, and through the nose at that. This means that sharing with freeloaders is simply too risky. I suspect Wibiki might be able to earn advertising revenue from a portal ‘landing’ page, i.e. the first page that Wi-Fi users will see when connecting to a Wibiki hotspot.

Even if Wibiki shared this revenue with hotspot owners, it is unlikely to be enough for the hotspot owner to make any profit.

Wibiki is led by CEO Shant Hovnanian and CTO Marcos Lara who are no strangers to the world of wireless communications. Shant has been promoting the convergence of voice, data and video over wireless since the early nineties. Marcos has been working on altruistic, community owned Wi-Fi since 2001 as a member of NYCwireless and is the Founder of the Public Internet Project and the Bryant Park Free Wireless Network!

From the Skyrove team, we wish you all the best in helping to make Wi-Fi cheap and accessible to everyone!

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