Social networking via sites such as Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and Pinterest have become popular over the course of the last few years. The idea behind social networking is that “no man is an island”. No matter the person, each individual has connections to others, who have connections to others, and so on. Social networking has not only been used with regards to job security, job recruitment, and online communication, but also tuition. A Philippines loan company named Lenddo grants tuition money for books and other educational fees based upon an individual’s social network strength. An individual who has over 1,000 friends can receive more loan money than someone with 50 friends. Who knew that social networking could earn you tuition and book money?
Social networking now has another component to add to its list of accomplishments: that of data sharing. Karma is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that provides 4G wireless services for its signees by way of another independent network – specifically, Sprint’s WiMax network. When you sign up for Karma’s 4G wireless service, you also order Karma’s WiMax hotspot ($79) and get a free GB of data to share with others. If you want to purchase additional gigs of data, it will cost you $14/GB. Data sharing may prevent you from having to worry about purchasing more data, however: when a hotspot owner opens a connection in a public place, other persons are allowed to log onto that person’s network. When the new individuals log on, they are given 100MB of data while the hotspot owner gains 100MB of data (for sharing, of course). The guests who log onto your network can use their free 100MB until it runs out. After using their free 100MB, they must either a) sign up for their free hotspot and 100MB of initial data or b) leave the WiFi hotspot and wireless network. Should the guest choose to become a WiMax hotspot owner, however, he or she will experience the same good fortune as the owner of the network they joined initially.
Karma was once located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, but made New York City their new residence in 2011 in order to pursue their “social bandwith” theory: the idea of sharing wireless broadband services with others in order to acquire wireless data. Social bandwith is an innovative idea with regard to sharing Internet data with others who are around you. The service will not only encourage users due to the idea of gaining data; it will also encourage benevolence, increased social interaction with new people, and intrigue into Karma’s hotspot service.
Karma comes on the heels of FreedomPop’s 4G hotspot service, which also relies on Sprint’s WiMax network for its services. Unlike Karma’s free GB of data at signup, FreedomPop offers 500MB of free data and a fee of $10 per GB for each additional data. While FreedomPop offers you a WiFi hotspot, USB cable, and iPhone and iPod Touch cases, it does not offer the social bandwith setup of Karma’s wireless service. This is the one circumstance in which Karma drops its reputation of “bad Karma” and delivers on good fortune.