2008-04-28

a trademark to distinguish network neutral providers

While on vacation last week, I saw a sign in front of a Burger King in New York advertising free wifi.  The sign listed six things you can do with it (downloading songs, chatting, etc.), which left me wondering whether they provide the whole whopping internet or just the selected portions they highlight.

And that got me wondering whether it would make sense to trademark a logo and phrase for distinguishing internet providers that provide unobstructed access to make it easier for users to pick network neutral wifi hotspots at restaurants and hotels, DSL/cable providers, and mobile plans.

Providers licensing the logo could still rate limit, as long as they didn't do so on the basis of site or protocol.  And the trademarked content would be designed to be simple and understandable by non-technical users, like Creative Commons' license logos, TRUSTe's privacy seals, and the feed icon.

I'm not sure what organization would be most suitable for running such a program, but it should be not-for-profit, as Creative Commons, TRUSTe, and Mozilla all are.

Properly implemented, it seems like a program like this would make it a whole lot easier for users to pick providers that don't have frustrating problems caused by access obstructions while putting pressure on providers to provide the whole internet so they can qualify for the program.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

Bernie Zimmermann said...

I've gotten burned so many times by signs that said "Free Wi-Fi" in big, bold letters and then something else in really small letters that I've just started to assume the only real free Wi-Fi is the kind you steal from your neighbors.

Brian Crowder said...

I go to an e-cafe here in downtown Encinitas that provides excellent, unrestricted (at least, I haven't found a restriction thusfar) free wifi.

Recently, I checked out the nearby (and beautiful) library which was recently completed, and was surprised to find its wifi to be basically restricted to outbound port 80 traffic (which I'm sure was also being proxied). Terrible!

I think your idea of having a real indicator of the level of service available is a great one; but I wonder how many would participate?

Is there a website that tracks free wifi and level-of-service? (real free, not stealable-free) Would be an awesome google-maps mashup.