Vision of a Free, Global Wi-Fi Network

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-10-22 Print this article Print


Alexander Zaidelson, mobile product manager at, said WeFi is community-driven, in that each person using WeFi plays a part in expanding the network. It will not take much to create a global network of free Wi-Fi connectivity, he said. And when that occurs, all users will get to enjoy using the Internet whenever and wherever they want, he said.

"We're building the world's biggest Wi-Fi network-built by the community for the community," Zaidelson said. The WeFi database now has more than 8 million access points and counting in 215 countries, he said. "We were surprised that the number grew so high because our target was 1 million, but now, based on the rate of growth, we expect to hit 15 million access points."

While the base version of WeFi is free for anybody to use, the company is planning to roll out a "premium version" that will provide users with access to commercial Wi-Fi networks, Zaidelson said. Pricing for the premium version has not been established, but it is likely to be less expensive than the going rate for typical commercial access or subscriptions for Wi-Fi, he said.

According to the company's Web site, how WeFi works is:

User A tries to connect in a previously 'un-WeFied' territory. The software quickly finds the best available connection. This information is then sent to the WeFi server. When User B tries to connect, the WeFi software uses the connectivity data already gathered, saving her time and effort. As more users join, more Wi-Fi data is collected and mapped. This helps everyone find free Wi-Fi more easily. The world's Wi-Fi is being mapped (by our users), creating a global virtual wireless network...

The WeFi software supports Nokia phones and Windows Mobile devices, and the laptop software runs on Windows and Macs, Zaidelson said. An iPhone version will be released in a few weeks, he added.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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