Homeless Hotspots: SXSW Stunt Sparks Debate

Filed in Gather News Channel by on March 14, 2012 0 Comments

At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) arts and tech festival in Austin, Texas, you can use your 4G phone or tablet, thanks to a local homeless person. Or you can thank Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH) for their test program called the “Homeless Hotspots Project.”

How does this work? BBH has given the individuals a Wi-Fi sharing device, a personalized “introduction/instruction” T-shirt and an assigned spot in the festival confines.

Information from the company website:

“These are homeless individuals. They’re carrying MiFi devices. Introduce yourself, then log on to their 4G network via your phone or tablet for a quick, high-quality connection.”

Wi-Fi consumers are asked to donate 2 dollars for 15 minutes of access (although the amount is not set in stone). Is this exploitation or compassionate capitalism? Do these “homeless hotspots” feel empowered? Many are wondering whether this is better than collecting soda cans for the five-cent refund or is that a truer form of self-reliance without the “corporate bosses.” The opinions are all over the map and all over the internet.

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