Startups propose broadband sharing to improve speed

Two startups are working on systems that will allow consumers to share their DSL or cable connections and pool their bandwidth to improve throughput. San Diego's Mushroom Networks and Seattle's WinBoost have separately created devices that can aggregate multiple connections; WinBoost uses a wireless antenna that needs to be mounted externally, while Mushroom has built a device it calls an aggregator, which can combine both wired and wireless broadband connections to improve throughput (as illustrated above). While both companies are quick to point out that they want to work with service providers, most telcos and cable companies have strict rules about sharing bandwidth, and are unlikely to give these setups their blessing (unless, of course, they can get a cut of whatever the companies charge consumers). But, hey, if you're real quiet about it, and don't tell anyone except your neighbors, maybe you can pull it off.