US Cable companies are now cracking down on people who use their Internet connections to create wireless local area networks (WLANs). This is much like what happened with cable TV in the 1980s when so-called 'cable thieves' were targeted.
Setting up a Wi-Fi network which can be easily broadcast within 300 feet of the transmitter allows people in that area to use the connection for free. The set-up cost of such a network is minimal and the "hot spots", as they've become known, are now present in over 15 million homes and workplaces.
Hot spots have been set up for a variety of reasons, from allowing families access in different rooms to giving customers the Internet in a cafÃ©. Now cable companies have, for the first time, started sending out letters warning customers that if they don't remove the networks they will revoke their access within a week.
Initially only 10 customers have been contacted but these are the first of many, according to Time Warner they are preparing to send more warnings and AT&T are also preparing letters right now.
The people currently being targeted are those advertised by organisations like NYCwireless and other groups that openly show the location hot spots, so anyone who is operating a network advertised in this way prepare for a letter! The cable companies have only started acting since someone pointed out that there was open advertising and Time Warner has told ZDNet why they are targeting such people: "Individuals utilising (their subscription) in this manner to carry out criminal activity would be able to do so in an anonymous manner, In such circumstances, when law enforcement .. attempted to trace such activity, the trail would end with your account.".
News source: ZDNet