updated 11:01 am EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Strategy would've detoured around iPhone's lack of 3G
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs once wanted to make shared Wi-Fi commonplace in homes and small businesses, says Re/Code's Walt Mossberg. The impetus is said to have been the first-generation iPhone, which lacked 3G. Although people could get around slow 2G speeds by connecting to Wi-Fi, most hotspots were and are password-protected, and Jobs wanted people to be able to leap seamlessly from network to network, much in the same way people transition between celltowers without noticing.
Mossberg explains that in a conversation he had, Jobs said he wanted to partner with other companies on the project in a kind of consortium. The goal was to have Wi-Fi routers shipping with a built-in option for a sandboxed guest network, and find some way of encouraging people to share their bandwidth.
Guest networks are now relatively standard options on routers. It's unclear if that can be linked to Jobs; regardless, widespread shared Wi-Fi is still relatively rare in the US, existing mainly in a handful of networks run by ISPs and/or city governments.