Wi-Fi networks are much more widespread today than they were back in 2007 when the iPhone launched. And wireless networks are much, much faster. While the original iPhone would crawl around at a snail’s pace on EDGE, today’s iPhone 5s cruises at blistering speeds on 4G LTE networks around the globe. Still, we pay for that kind of speed and the data we use, whether it’s on networks provided by wireless carriers or hotspots splattered around our cities. Some companies have started to offer free Wi-Fi — Google powers it in Starbucks, as one example — but Steve Jobs apparently had a much bigger vision for widespread Wi-Fi use.
In a new report from Re/Code that calls for open Wi-Fi, Walt Mossberg details a walk with Steve Jobs in which Jobs discussed how he wanted to make Wi-Fi free for the masses. “Jobs said he understood the need for security, but he was determined to figure out a way to make free, safe, Wi-Fi sharing from homes and small local businesses not only possible, but common,” Mossberg explained. “He even told me that he planned to get other companies involved, in a sort of consortium, to make this happen.”
One way Jobs imagined this happening was through routers that were able to broadcast an open network in addition to a secure one. This is actually something Comcast has started doing — though the Xfinity hotspots are only open to other Comcast subscribers, and not to everyone.
Mossberg points to two consortiums today that are attempting to — though slowly — provide free Wi-Fi. Those include the Open Wireless Movement and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Could Jobs have done it quicker? Or are we bound to private Wi-Fi forever? Mossberg’s article calls on us to make changes in an effort to see Jobs’ vision through. You can check out his editorial in the source below.