There are few things more annoying than owning a Smartphone with Wi-Fi access, only to find yourself cut off from internet access when you’re unable to find a hotspot. Ordinarily, you face a choice of paying expensive roaming charges to secure definite internet access; but with the genesis of a new application, Android users may have found a ray of light. Called “Open Garden”, it’s designed specifically to create a mesh network: a symbiotic network which allows each individual user (or “node”) to act as an independent router. In layman’s terms, this means any Smartphone in the network is capable of connecting to (and being connected to by) disparate nodes. According to Micha Benoliel, CEO of Open Garden, “as long as the devices are in proximity they [can] recognize themselves seamlessly. If once device in the mesh has access to the Internet, then the other device can benefit from it.” This is a revolutionary method of connectivity: as long as someone nearby has the Open Garden app, and available Wi-Fi connectivity, any other user in the area with the application can “piggyback” from their connection. When there’s no available internet connection, the application can access the internet via links through other devices, such as laptops. And there’s no need to worry about the stability of your connection; if the connector device leaves the network, the connection is automatically routed through the next-best available device. While this kind of peer-to-peer networking is nothing new on desktop computers, there are few precedents of this variety of software being utilized successfully on mobile devices. The application is particularly useful as it works on devices of different calibres: you can utilize a laptop to connect via an iPhone, or an iPhone to connect via an Android device, ensuring cross-platform use. There are even plans to tailor the amount of memory and data that users can allocate to the application, as well as the capacity to connect to different social networks in order to designate the desired network sharers. While all this stands to be very useful for consumers, some mobile networks have criticised Open Garden’s plans, foreseeing loss of revenue: Benoliel, for his part, claims that Open Garden will help to decongest crowded networks, as Wi-Fi offers more capacity. Whether Open Garden will have a profound effect on the future of 3G and 4G, however, remains to be seen.