Urban 802.11 Community Networks for Mobile Users: Current Deployments and Prospectives
Few years ago some network operators launched a new service called Community Networks, where each subscriber shares its residential Internet connection with other subscribers of the same operator via his 802.11 access point. Due to the high access point density in urban areas, community networks have the potential to offer high data rate wireless Internet access for mobile users, going beyond the currently available hot-spots, which are typically deployed in a limited number of isolated locations (e.g., airports, cafes). Unlike cellular networks, the locations of community network access points is not centrally planned. We evaluate existing community networks using a participatory sensing application called Wi2Me. First, we analyze different metrics in order to characterize community networks. Second, we take advantage of this unique 802.11 network (in terms of density and coverage) to study how mobility can be supported by identifying drawbacks and proposing some possible solutions.