1. July 2013–
From Airbnb to Couchsurfing, Carpooling to Kickstarter – the sharing economy is booming and startups from all areas are emerging to offer peer-to-peer services. Newly-launched Android app CrowdRoaming is one of them. It wants to solve a very common (and frustrating) problem experienced by travellers: huge mobile surfing costs when overseas.
The Netherlands-based startup turns phones into WiFi hotspots so that travellers can tap into local CrowdRoaming users' smartphone WiFi and surf without costs. Users with unlimited data just download the free app, which runs in the background and automatically lets nearby travellers access locals' WiFi systems. In return, when these travellers get back home, they themselves open their WiFi to visiting users.
Launched in 2012, so far CrowdRoaming has received funding from an unnamed private financier. While it's only available on Android at the moment, an iOS version is planned.
Homayun Zahidi, Managing Director of CrowdRoaming, said: "In the future, the technology can also be used for other peer-to-peer offers on mobile devices. Smartphones with CrowdRoaming could then be used as a hotspot for tablets without the hassle of needing login codes. Other possible uses include securely connecting with the home router or easier internet access for visitors at large events."
The idea of CrowdRoaming is similar to TechStars alumni Karma, though it requires users to buy a $79 hardware add-on to get started. Karma touts itself as a "social hotspot" and gives users 100MB of free data when they share their WiFi connection with other people. At the moment, it is only available in 80 cities in the US.
Image credit: Flickr user garryknight