There were lots of hints that Steve Jobs was interested in changing the way we all access the internet on the devices he helped create. Back in 2011 there were reports that Apple considered developing its own network for the original iPhone that could potentially replace traditional carrier services using Wi-Fi spectrum. Before that rumours claimed Jobs was interested in Fon, a WiFi sharing service that encourages users to share wireless internet access with others. Today, Walt Mossberg from ReCode shares another story about Jobs’ interest in a world of shared Wi-Fi, describing a conversation between the two where Jobs shared his vision of making free Wi-Fi the norm:

The first iPhone had a lousy, sluggish, cellular-data network, but it also had a much faster data option: Wi-Fi. It even had a feature (still present, but much less touted) that popped up a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks on the screen, so you could always find one in range… But, he once told me, there was a big problem with that technique, one that he wanted to fix: Most of the Wi-Fi networks that popped up on his screen couldn’t be used, because they were secured with passwords. Jobs said he understood the need for security, but he was determined to figure out a way to make free, safe, Wi-Fi sharing from homes and small local businesses not only possible, but common.

Mossberg also claims that Jobs planned to “get other companies involved, in a sort of consortium” to make his vision a reality. The plan, according to the report, was to get manufacturers building wireless routers to build-in an option for a shared, guest network walled off from the user’s personal home network. “Then, he hoped that the industry would encourage people to share their bandwidth with strangers via these guest networks. That way, a smartphone user could walk around, moving from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another, without logging in — much like people using cellular data move from one cell tower to another.”

The report notes that Apple and others have since built in a guest network option into their wireless routers, but that it’s unclear if that came as part of Jobs’ push for the feature or how far along he actually came in developing his idea.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

17 Responses to “Steve Jobs had plans to make free, shared Wi-Fi the norm to improve iPhone experience”

  1. zoidbert says:

    For a while, I had a vision that Apple was going to push a new concept called “SpacePort” would be built on the concept of “if you buy an Apple product, you’re always connected”. At first I thought it would be satellite based but realized costs would be prohibitive. Then I heard about Apple buying into the old television broadcast spectrum, and I thought that has to be why — they’re going to build a nationwide wifi network, if not for all things Apple, at least for the iPhone. Never came to be, of course, but it was a good daydream.


  2. The iPhone was meant to disrupt the Telcos and end the $100/month bills for a phone. Sadly it has not panned out this way.


  3. Actually, here in Belgium, this is a common thing. One of the biggest internet providers here (Telenet) has enabled all its routers to make a shared public wifi signal (next to the private and secured signal) that is available for free for all Telenet customers.


    • herb02135go says:

      Well you get free WiFi but do you get the pride that comes when your country invades another for no reason whatsoever?


    • In Australia, our biggest telco – Telstra – is planning a similar implementation. You securely share a bit of your bandwidth to with other Telstra users. Then you in turn can use anyone else’s. Pretty easy to implement when they supply the free router when you go on contract. They are even letting people from other service providers use the wifi for a small fee.

      This is actually a great idea from Telstra, and I can see the other telcos adopting the same plan. Would be great to get around and have wifi speed everywhere! With things like facetime audio, and the wifi calling in ios8, I can see cell towers becoming obsolete one day.


  4. I all ways was thinking of that idea thanks for the article


  5. photogeek13 says:

    I was always of the opinion that the internet should be part of public infrastructure. But judging by the conditions of my area roadways, it would probably suck. :P


  6. driverbenji says:

    This is the inherit problem with Steve Job’s push for everything to be connected, and not to have to store on the device. This is the problem with Apple’s push for iCloud: We still have to succumb to Cell Data plans, cost, and, if you have unlimited data, you likely get throttled (with some exceptions, but throttling is the norm.). This WiFi idea was meant to give people access at all times to their cloud (along with nixing the cell company for calls/text/etc.). Unfortunately, this will not likely improve, and, I wish Apple would slow down this push for iCloud storage and increase the storage in the devices…until such a time as we have the accessibility (and, for some of us at home, also the speed we need)…this could take 5 or even 10 years.

    What I am saying is this: The next iPhones will have even better cameras that will take better photos and videos, but, most of us can’t afford or don’t have access to push all these HDR pics & 1080p vids over the data connection to store in iCloud. It’s a real issue with me, 16GB isn’t enough to use your camera, and use your apps, and have some music in your iPhone, it just isn’t, and maxing out at 64 or 128 GB isn’t enough. It needs to start at 32GB and go up from there. Base models need to be 32GB to use the thing as a smart phone & camera, and not just a phone. Period.

    Yeah, it’d be nice to get rid of the cell phone company altogether, but, it will take 5-10 more years. Then they will be nothing more than ISPs.

    Slow down Apple. The internet, connectivity, speed and such are not up to speed with Steve Jobs’ vision. Not even close.


  7. Because he hated AT&T that much…thinking back not sure how we were able to browse the internet with edge on the original iphone


  8. This ain’t new. In France with the phone carrier called Free, you have unlimited access to private Free wifi networks (auto join) whenever a FreeBox is in range.
    I am quite surprise to see how much you guys pay for your phone contracts… for SMS, MMS, Calls no limit + 20Gb 4G internet, I only pay $21 a month !


  9. Help!!!! Can someone tell me why Sprint won’t unlock a iphone 4s after a contract is up?