Big carriers like Comcast, SoftBank and BT may have gotten wise to the concept ofshared home Wi-Fi to build far-reaching networks for their customers. But when it comes to the shared mobile broadband, the movement is more of a grassroots effortwith startups and organizations like Open Garden, Karma and the Open Technology Institute pioneering new technologies and business models for letting people crowdsource their cellular connections.

So far mobile carriers haven’t been hot on the idea of shared mobile connections, and for the longest time they blocked phones from tethering with other devices. Buta new startup called M87 is trying to convince carriers that they can benefit from a shared bandwidth model. It’s developing technologies that would allow all of the phones in a carrier’s network to link up with another and crowdsource their connections.

M87 sprouted from the University of Texas at Austin’s wireless engineering department, which developed a technology that allows smartphones to dynamically organize themselves into mesh networks using their Wi-Fi. Those clusters of phones collaboratively identity which device or devices have the strongest links to the 3G or LTE network and then route all of their mobile data traffic through those connections.

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