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Whoops...a bit of a backlash for BBH Labs, looks like they stepped in something smelly:
It sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia (external - login to view). But it’s absolutely real — and a completely problematic treatment of a problem that otherwise probably wouldn’t be mentioned in any of the panels at South by Southwest Interactive.

Homeless Hotspots (external - login to view) is “a charitable experiment (external - login to view)” by BBH Labs, the skunkworks wing of marketing firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty. In Austin, BBH Labs is partnering with Front Steps Shelter (external - login to view) to equip people from Front Steps’ case management system with 4G MiFi devices to serve as pay-per-use hotspots for attendees at SXSWi. People in the program wear T-shirts reading:
I’M [FIRST NAME]
A 4G HOTSPOT
SMS HH [FIRST NAME]
TO 25827 FOR ACCESS
Homeless Hotspots (external - login to view)
The recommended donation (according to shortformblog (external - login to view)) is $2 for 15 minutes of Wi-Fi access, but BBH Labs says it’s officially pay-what-you-wish. Whatever is paid goes to the homeless MiFi manager — either directly if you pay cash, or every two weeks if you use PayPal. BBH Labs gets exposure for its program as well as data for how it might scale — potentially acting as a replacement for newspapers sold by the homeless today. “We’re believers that providing a digital service will earn these individuals more money than a print commodity,” writes BBH Labs’ Saneel Radia.
More at the link: The Damning Backstory Behind 'Homeless Hotspots' at SXSW | Epicenter | Wired.com (external - login to view)