Free the internet

For the last few years I have wanted to setup a free community access point, but not been able to find the right way to do it. Earlier this week I read about Lachlan Hardy using Meraki Mini’s to do just that in Sydney and then his bold idea to do a bulk order for Sydneysiders. He has answered many questions on his blog, so check it out.

Basically you plug them in, quick config and then they operate as a mesh WiFi network allow both public and private access to the network. You get to limit overall bandwidth allocated to free users, ban users that abuse the system, but you cannot a download limit by users.

But the benefits are huge.

But consider this, the true benefits of a mesh network don’t lie in making a sexy little hardware system for your personal use. The benefits come when you convince your neighbours to do it too. And then you and they convince their neighbours. And before you know it, you have free wifi network access at that cafe on the corner or that park around the block with the cool bench. That’s just the start of the vision Mark Pesce was talking about at Web Directions. That’s just the start of everything that’s coming

Convince your friends. Convince your families. Buy them for friends’ birthdays. Talk to the folks in the local cafes, restaurants and community stores. Give one to your grandma. Tell the user groups you belong to

Check out their web site for more details.

I kind of missed his order but still want to do the same thing. So if you are in Melbourne and want one, drop me a line by 25 Oct and I will add you to my order. Each mini costs $US49, and if I get an order for 10+ we should be able to get the shipping down to a reasonable level, say $US12-15 per device vs $US30.

4 thoughts on “Free the internet

  1. This sounds like a great idea, although you’d have to get people used to the idea of sharing their bandwidth (which they paid for), and also get enough people taking it up that you have coverage over a reasonable area.
    You also have to wonder about some of the security questions – e.g. how should I separate my Meraki(s) from my box(es) when they’re both connected to the same router? How should my emailing, minesweeping grandma do it? I’m into the idea of a wireless mesh, I think that’s great. What I’m not into is supporting all the people I persuade to join me.

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