Students at MIT and the University of Cambridge have come up with an idea for a "wireless cooperative," that would link privately held hotspots throughout a city into a sort of large-scale mesh network.
"The idea is that current residential and business owners could open up their WiFi access points and implement controlled, secure tunneling practices to allow guest access but also protect all parties involved," Ars Technica explains. "The system would offer a trusted point on the Internet that guests could access via an encrypted tunnel, preventing any kind of unfortunate mingling or malicious activity between the host of an access point and its guests."
This idea is reminiscent of a few similar initiatives we've seen in the past--most notably Fon--but would not require any additional hardware, at least in theory.
For more on WiFi Co-ops:
- see this Ars Technica article