The present situation in my flat is a classic failure of coordination. There are so many (encrypted) wireless networks operating that interference seems to have become a major issue. Internet access has become slow and unreliable. Of the eleven channels in the 802.11b/g standard, only three (1, 6, and 11) are fully non-overlapping. The individual wireless access points are all interfering with one another, as well as with everything else that operates in the same part of the radio spectrum: microwaves, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, security cameras, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, wireless video game controllers, fluorescent lights, etc, etc. Indeed, a new phone somewhere in my vicinity may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as the 2.401 MHz to 2.473 MHz range goes.
Everyone would have faster and more reliable internet access if we could shut down all but a couple of the access points. Unfortunately, there is no way to coordinate such an action. Furthermore, anyone who actually ran one of the reduced number of access points, if such an agreement could be reached, would be faced with the same kind of illicit usage that forced me to shut down my open network.
One option is to seek a technological fix, in the form of 802.11a or 802.11n equipment that is less likely to be interfered with by existing devices. Of course, given enough time, those devices are likely to face similar hurdles.