We all love our international mobile carriers, of course, but we also love apps, especially if those apps have the potential to cut international roaming costs and improve our coverage and experience at the same time.
The Viral Spaces research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has developed an Android app that could do just that. Called AirMobs, the P2P app shares a phone’s data plan with others through the phone’s Wi-Fi signal. For every kilobyte shared, AirMobs awards a data credit that you can use to leech off another user at a later time.
If your connection is weak or if your phone is about to die, Air Mobs won’t let anyone else piggyback off of you. The app also lets users choose how much data to share, forestalling any resulting “bill shock.”
“The idea is to extend the principle of ‘give and you shall receive’ to create an incentive for people to share their data plan,” Eyal Toledano at MIT, who developed the app, told New Scientist. “You can use your credit in an area where you don’t have a connection … Maybe the guy next to you has great coverage.”
Unfortunately, an app of this type does not necessarily have the carriers’ best interests in mind. Toledano says that he’s hesitant to release AirMobs on the Google Play store because of how the networks might react.
Still it’s definitely an application worth looking out for, and it’s possible that sometime down the road, it could be released. It’s a very innovative solution to that evil bill shock that always seems to be lurking in the corner for many an international traveler.