Law changes: become your own ISP - legally - under new EU law

by Guy Kewney | posted on 14 July 2003

The business plan behind MyZones was based on the assumption that neighbours could club together, build a wireless network in their street, and share a single broadband link. It was a plan that pre-empted next week's legislation.

Guy Kewney

On July 25th, a package of new EU telecoms legislation will come into effect - and they will make it legal for MyZones customers to share broadband with their neighbourhood.

According to MyZones, the new regulatory legislation "will supersede certain of the licensing requirements prescribed in the 1984 Telecommunications Act (TA 1984)."

Current laws, although highly unlikely to be enforced, do appear to stipulate a licence.

However, when approached, the Department of Trade and Industry said that in fact, these laws were being superseded anyway under legislation setting up the new, all-purpose Offcom body for regulation of broadcasting.

"Strictly," said a spokesman, "we should enforce this under current legislation. However, in point of fact, nobody has ever been prosecuted under that legislation that we're aware of, and we would have to concede that the chances of a successful prosecution now are nil."

From July 25th however the licensing requirements will be replaced by a more general 'authorisation' process, meaning that the MyZones customers will be automatically entitled to operate their wireless home network, without having to register or apply to any regulatory body.

The big change is that it is now feasible to enforce a policy where you charge money for providing a private WiFi access hotspot.

"MyZones allows customers to not only share WiFi broadband throughout their own home but also with neighbours who can pick up their WiFi signal. The ability to share enables the customer to share the costs with their neighbours reducing the broadband cost of ownership. A typical MyZones customer would have full always on 512K broadband service for two people sharing at £17.62 per month, three people for £11.74 per month, four people for £8.81 per month all charges including VAT."

The bit that MyZones adds to the process is security. MyZones provides software allows the local hotspot operator to control who they are sharing with.

"With MyZones you can create individual user accounts, issue secure passwords and even monitor the amount of shared usage, effectively becoming a neighbourhood internet service provider," said the company.

You can get the whole package from them: for £149.95 in the UK (inc vat) MyZones will supply a WiFi broadband starter pack including an ADSL modem, Wi-Fi access point, a USB wireless adapter and the MyZones client software to enable a quick and easy set up. The wireless equipment is built by Netgear and this is a good discount price, claims MyZones.

Clive Mayhew-Begg, CEO of MyZones Ltd commented We have been anticipating this legislation for some time and have been developing the MyZones service to allow our customers to take advantage of such changes. The secure and managed sharing of broadband with housemates and neighbours is set to revolutionise the UK broadband market. This is just the start of a new generation of consumer based Internet services."

For those who already have the DSL feed, there's a cheaper package: a WiFi broadband upgrade pack from MyZones for £99.00 (inc VAT) - but you still will be charged £9.99 (ex-vat) per month to use the secure MyZones software, on top of the broadband subscription fee.

In theory, you may find that your broadband provider prohibits broadband sharing. In practice, of course, this is unlikely to be an issue, unless one of your neighbours pulls out of the deal at the point of paying their subscription, and has to be sued for the money (also, a very unlikely scenario).

For more details of the new EU Telecoms legislation please visit the Oftel web site. More information about MyZones is available at MyZones web site.

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