Meraki mAsh(up) for San Francisco wifi network

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You already read about Meraki raising 20 mil us$ to extend citywide the wifi coverage of San Francisco. Where Google and Earthlink failed , now the Mountain View wifi start-up claim to succeed .

My opinion about this is that they can really achieve to do it , because they are meshing the wifi signal but also mashing-up the philosophy.

From the FAQ of free the net project :

How can I help build this network?

Free the Net is a community-built network. Meraki provides the technology, but we rely on people to help build and grow. There are a number of ways you can help:

  • If you can see the Free the Net signal, sign up for a free repeater to boost your signal.
  • Volunteer to host an outdoor repeater on your roof or balcony. The outdoor units help spread the signal throughout your neighbourhood and are critical to the growth of the network.
  • Spread the word! Tell your friends and neighbours to sign up at http://sf.meraki.com.
  • Check out the network map and keep yourself up-to-date on our progress.

Does it sound familiar ?

Meraki is combining the social part of FON involving people in the construction of network (installing repeaters rooftop or inside restaurants , shops , halls) with their owned technology , keeping the managing of the network in their hands. Technically, I guess that meraki will provide robust gateways with high bandwidth and people will maintain mesh nodes at their home , taking care of them.

This sounds perfect , but there are a couple of things that sounds dissonant :

Are we sure that people will agree to mount the repeater device on their balcony just for the glory of being part of construction of a citywide wifi network ?

What if the repeating node will fail to function , due to a simple software failure or high load kernel panic or other unpredictable causes ? It’s supposed that people who mounted the repeater cell are not technicians , and also if just a mere powercycle could be enough to put again the node on line , who will advise them ?

Let’s wait and see what will happen.

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