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Download this: Residential Wi-Fi sharing made easy

Apr 27, 20062 mins

Researchers have developed technology designed to enable neighbors to pool their Wi-Fi Internet access to deliver better performance and exploit bandwidth that would otherwise sit idle.

Haiyun Luo, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  says that the technology he created with graduate student Nathanael Thompson would encourage people to share their bandwidth without having to worry about security or privacy issues.

The 1MB Practical End-host collaborative Residential Multihoming (PERM) software file can be downloaded  here and used  by those of you with  subscriptions for broadband connections, says Luo, who leads the  Systems, Wireless and Networking Group at the university. The PERM Project site describes the technology as having been implemented on Linux clients and with Linksys wireless routers.

Luo says he plans to discuss the technology, which has been in the works for two years and funded by the school, with ISPs. He says the technology presents “a great opportunity” for them in that more people will be encouraged to subscribe for services if the services are more flexible and perform better.

ISPs have attempted to restrict certain uses of their broadband services, such as by discouraging freeloaders from accessing the ‘Net via unsecured Wi-Fi routers, but acknowledge it is difficult for them to actually monitor such abuse.

PERM uses flow-scheduling algorithms to choose the best connection available and gives subscribers priority when it comes to their own Internet connections. The software also alerts subscribers if their connection is being misused.

The peer-to-peer technology is initially restricted to use by people in their homes, but Luo is interested in extending the technology, say, to users in cars and homes.

The project was presented this week at the IEEE’s INFOCOM conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Bob Brown,