Below is AdamShand's response to repeated questions by journalists asking various versions of the question "So since you guys are sharing bandwidth, doesn't that piss off the ISP's?". The short answer is "It shouldn't piss off the ISP's if they have any vision.", the longer version is below.
- ISP's sell "unlimited" bandwidth connections to residential consumers.
- This is a marketing lie (and has been since unlimited dial-up accounts first appeared). ISP's can't afford to let you use all your bandwidth (or stay on a modem line 24x7) because the way they make money is by over subscribing their resources.
- Over subscribing (within reason) is a totally legit method of building out network infrastructure.
- Because it's a competitive disadvantage to offer "metered" internet access (which is really what ISP's want to sell) they are trying to enforce EULA (end user license agreement) style restrictions similar to those in place in the software industry.
- They'd like us to not actually be buying bandwidth, but rather buying the right (ie. a license) to use a certain percentage of our bandwidth so long as we abide by their restrictions (no resale, no home network, no wireless, no sharing, no servers ... whatever).
- This is bullshit. What I want to purchase with my X dollars a month is bandwidth, not a license which permits me to use the bandwidth delivered to my house under certain conditions.
As a group we are researching ISP's usage agreements (see IspWirelessPolicies), and speaking to ISP's representatives, until we find the ones that are willing to sell us what we want to buy (Easy Street, in Portland, seems to be willing and interested in working with us).
- We are happy to abide by reasonable terms of service and pay more when our usage increases.
- In the mean time, so long as the over all bandwidth usage of my DSL connection doesn't change significantly because I'm sharing it, I believe that it's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS what I do with MY BANDWIDTH.
- If ISP's believe that they have the right to dictate how I use what I purchase they better be prepared to re-word their access agreements and accept the possible loss of business and poor PR that may result.
We believe that the above philosphy allows us to stick within both the letter and the spirit of the law as well as leave us in a good position to honestly work with local ISP's to find a mutually benificial arrangement.
"Traditional broadband providers cry foul when users take their cable modem or DSL connections and beam them to friends, family and passsers-by through Wi-Fi networks. "It constitutes a theft of service per our user agreement," says AT&T Broadband's Sarah Eder. But at least one very important observer doesn't buy that. "I don't think it's stealing by any definition of law at the moment," says FCC chairman Michael Powell. "The truth is, it's an unintended use."