This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on October 29, 2008.

Even though the economy is about to take a dive, there are two things Canadians won’t cut from the luxury list: cell phones and internet access.

“Many consumers, with minor exceptions, view these as essential utilities, like water or electricity,” says a report from Solutions Research Group which was compiled to find out where Canadians are likely to penny pinch in tough times.

However, there are ways to try and tighten the purse strings a bit and get some of your surfing for nothing and your web for free.

More than 23 Million Canadians use the web, 19 Million of us carry mobile phones, so why not use one to access the other?

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Gary Ng runs iPhoneinCanada.ca, a website dedicated to news and tips for Canadian iPhone users. More than 25 000 people have viewed his post about jailbreaking the iPhone.

A jailbroken iPhone has the ability to run 3rd party applications not approved by Apple, one of those is PDANet which allows you to tether your iPhone to a computer, which means you can use the iPhone as a modem to access the internet.

Gary says it’s not expressly forbidden by Rogers in Canada, but using your iPhone as a modem to save money, could end up costing you more.

Last year, Piotr Staniaszek from Calgary was faced with an $85 000 bill from Bell after using his mobile as a modem with what he thought was an unlimited browsing plan.

“Overages on data use would cost you an arm and a leg,” says Gary. “Light surfing is ok, but daily tethering needs the 6 gig plan from Rogers.”

If you live in a densely populated area, poaching internet from open access points is a breeze.

Simply click on your mobile connection and look for an unsecured wifi port. Usually the open access points are labeled linksys, the same name as a popular wireless router, and the default setting for those who don’t use passwords.

For those in high rises, finding a friendly neighbour with an open point is just as easy.

“I can see 50 access points from my balcony in the West End,” admits Tyler Ingram, who until recently used to live off the readily available wifi of others.

Brian LeRoux purposely leaves his connection open in his apartment, as a public service. “The internet is owned by no one and everyone (the public) and as such it should be free for everyone to access and use.”

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