|A Tactical Toolkit to Liberate Pay-Per Use Wireless Networks!|
Wifi Liberator is an open-source toolkit for a laptop computer that enables its user to “liberate” pay-per-use wireless networks and create a free, open node that anyone can connect to for Internet access. The project is presented as a challenge to existing corporate or “locked” private wireless nodes to encourage the proliferation of free networks and connectivity across the planet. The project was inspired by the ongoing “battle” between providers broadcasting wireless signals in public spaces, in particular: corporate entities, wireless community groups, individual users, and proponents of open networks. Like my Wifi-Hog project, the Wifi-Liberator critically examines the tensions between providers trying to profit from the increasingly minimal costs associated with setting up a public network and casual users who simply want to see the Internet transform into another “public utility” and become as ubiquitous and free as the air we breath. The project targets pay-per-use wireless networks as often found in airports, other public terminals, hotels, global-chain coffee shops, and other public waiting points.
The ultimate goal with the Wifi Liberator project is through Open Source distribution, to eventually reach a high enough usage and penetration rate that all pay-per-use wireless networks will begin to free their access to everyone. Since the monetary amounts associated with providing wireless access is inexpensive as the techology becomes more ubiquitous, the need to “charge” for this access is becoming less important and cost effective. Although we are still charged for basic utilities such as water, electricity, gas, and others, the amounts associated with providing internet access are dropping at an exponential rate. This project aims to make this low cost apparent as well as the increasing tensions of keeping people “out” of these networks.
Despite the advent of free and open wireless networks made available by community groups in parks and other urban centers, there is still a monetary restriction on many networks that exist in community buildings and facilities such as airports, train stations, chain restaurants, and other public areas. Most of these “closed” networks are deployed in “waiting” areas with the promise of “convenience” to allow pedestrians or commuters access to the Internet, however they nevertheless impose a monetary and time-based restriction on who can connect as well as for how long, often with “hourly” or “daily” rates for connectivity. Wifi-Liberator is a reaction against these limits to access by lifting the constrictions associated with paid networks and turning them into “free” networks.
The project finds inspiration from the Open Source movement’s ability to turn once “commercial” software into freely available and distributable entities. This is evident in examples such as Netscape’s eventual movement into the freely available, and open source distribution model with Mozilla and its successor, Firefox. By taking an existing pay-per-use commercial model into the public domain, the potential for creative use and output from these systems increases exponentially. This is the hope of “Wifi-Liberator”, that once the restrictions are lifted on wireless access points that it will stimulate creativity and social action amongst the general public and those in dense urban locations where many networks currently overlap.
The following equipment list is to get Wifi- Liberator running on an Apple Macbook running OSX 10.3 or later. (Windows version coming soon)
The Wifi-Liberator Software can run in 2 modes – Proxy and Client.
Instructions For Proxy:
Instructions For Client:
Description of System
1. Closed Node Use: Users who have existing accounts or pay-per-use accounts can access the network. This typically puts a time limit on their use, prompting them for more money or access codes to continue using the network. Those without accounts or enough money to pay for access cannot connect to the node.
2. Wifi Liberator Node Use: The Liberator connects to the network using the software and broadcasts this connection on a second wireless interface from their computer with the SSID “Wifi Liberator”. Users can then connect to the liberated node as they would any other, “free”, hotspot.
Diagram of system: