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back to article Startup brings free Wi-Fi to the streets of San Francisco

A California startup is relying on civic-minded volunteers in San Francisco to accomplish a goal that so far has eluded the city's government leaders: provide residents with wireless internet access that's free and dependable. Over the past few weeks, Meraki Networks has launched a grass roots "Free the Net" campaign that …

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Why is it so hard to do this?

Cory Doctorow described this ages ago in his novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town in which an area of Toronto is given free wi-fi using scrap computers as access points and repeaters. Fonero is trying to do it on a global scale by offering free or cheap routers and Seattle Wireless already has a bunch of peer to peer nodes in operation (http://map.seattlewireless.net/).

The trick has got to be making it easy to set up and worthwhile to the individuals hosting the node or repeater. Also in areas of low housing density (such as most of Norway) the range needs to be much better than existing gear; after all you can't expect every house to host a repeater or node.

Nonetheless, I wish everyone who tries to do this the best of luck.

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