You’d think that everyone would cheer for giving homeless people the hookup, but one company’s effort to turn homeless people into wireless hotspots at the South by Southwest festival is just causing controversy.
Standing in front of the Austin Convention Center, surrounded by throngs of revelers, [Mark] West, 44, calls out: “Hotspot! Hotspot! Wireless connection! 4G! Need to get online? I’m your guy!”
And plenty of Internet geeks are accessing the WiFi hotspot around his neck, a program of BBH Labs, a New York City-based marketing company.
To access West’s hotspot, users send a text message to a number printed on his T-shirt. They then get an access code for the Verizon MiFi 4G around his neck. Users are asked to donate $2 per 15 minutes; West is quick to add they can donate more.
“There are a lot of stereotypes out there that homeless people don’t want to work,” he said. “I applaud BBH for giving me an opportunity to raise out of my circumstances.”